3 weeks. The average person in our world is expected to live for 71.5 years, which amounts to 3,718 weeks. 3 weeks accounts for roughly 0.08% of the amount of weeks that the average person has to live on this planet. Obviously, when you put it like that, 3 weeks sounds like a minuscule amount of time. It might make you wonder if it is even possible to do anything meaningful in 3 weeks. Well these days you can travel around the entire world in well under 3 weeks (doing that in 80 days used to be a big deal), you can build a brand new house (heck you can probably build 3 houses thanks to Extreme Makeover Home Edition), and scientists even say that 3 weeks is the perfect amount of time to break or begin any habit. So obviously 3 weeks is a long enough amount of time to get significant things accomplished! Recently, I was blessed to be able to spend 3 weeks at the Rafiki Village in Liberia, Africa and they were most significant.
During these special 3 weeks God allowed many significant things to happen in my life. God blessed me to have the absolute best 3 teammates to go on this adventure with. Over this time he enabled 4 people who met for the first time face to face in the Brussels airport to become great friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life. In 3 weeks God helped me to overcome so many fears and false ideas I had of Africa. In 3 weeks He enabled 67 orphans to each teach me something different about Himself, life, love, and happiness. Furthermore, He taught me about the need for more full-time missionaries who serve passionately and selflessly, just like the wonderful 3 full time missionaries that I got to know and develop friendships with at the village. Most significantly (and it may sound so cliche) I learned that only Jesus can truly fix a world that is so totally and hopelessly lost without Him (not education, not money, and not democracy). I also learned that you don’t always need or get 3 weeks’ time to do something significant sometimes you only get a moment or a few minutes.
In Luke 8:43-48 Jesus heals a woman with an issue of blood. It only took a moment probably less than a minute in total and Jesus changed a woman’s life forever. There were many moments that were significant to me on this 3 week trip. However, there was one that has become more special to me now that I have had some time to reflect. During our 3 weeks at Rafiki there was a particular girl who was super shy and never said much during any of her group’s game sessions with us. She isn’t a great athlete and was definitely a child who was easy to glance over because she was so quiet. She was sweet though and liked to give my team members and I high five’s whenever we would pass by but she would rarely if ever say anything. One of our last days in Liberia I made it a goal of mine to try and talk to her. I pulled her out of a soccer game and started to ask her simple questions to try and get her talking. She was extremely shy and would only give one word answers. After about two or three minutes our one sided conversation ended. I was happy that I tried to talk to her but not overall satisfied with the result. The next day during some free time she came and sat next to me and we watched the other kids play soccer. We even talked for a little bit and had a real conversation! It was awesome and shocking at the same time, and I know that if I hadn’t put the effort in the day before she would have never come over to talk with me. It may not have been a life changing moment for her, but it was for me. She taught me that spending even a minute with someone can make a difference in their life. Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. You never know what impact even the smallest act of kindness or the willingness to have a conversation can have on an individual’s life.
3 weeks. In the grand scheme of things it is such a short amount of time. However, God can use even such a short amount of time to make a big difference in our lives and the lives of those that we encounter. I don’t know if I will ever see any of those children again. I don’t know if they will remember me 1, 5, or 10 years from now. I don’t know what plans God has for those children, and I don’t even know what future plans He has for my life. I do know that if we trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding that He will make our paths straight. I just hope and pray that He leads all our paths to meet once again either in this lifetime or eternity.
-Benjamin Gonzalez, University of Florida
To God Be the Glory!
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