So how does a soft white grandmother from North Carolina find herself in the middle of the West African bush where most of the comforts of home were sloughed off and left behind for the privilege of serving some of the neediest women on the planet? And how did this particular speck on the globe become the destination? In God's sovereignty, He had been preparing me for this all my life, although I only became aware of it less than 3 years ago.
Wade & Kate McHargue are perhaps the most amazing couple I have ever personally known. They have not yet walked this earth for four full decades, but as their childhoods met adulthood and those questions of purpose and destiny were before them, they surrendered their lives, body and soul, to Jesus. My life intersected with theirs four years ago in my living room when they were in Charlotte for a year between terms on the mission field. A friend of mine just happened to choose to use the restroom at her church one Sunday morning at the same time that Kate heeded the call of nature, and they met over the sink (a sink which, by the way, had warm running water and liquid soap available), at which time my friend invited Katie to attend Overflow. And so it was that this lovely young woman the age of my own daughter was in my living room with a group of 20-some women praising God together as we collectively offered encouragement to one another in our faith. She made an impression on me as a woman who was a living, breathing rare specimen of what it looks like to be so in love with Jesus that everything else in life literally falls into place behind the joy of her relationship with the King. My own journey with Jesus had transformed huge parcels of acreage in my heart, but I knew that I didn't have her absolute confidence that I was loved the way King Jesus loves his princess daughter, and my soul craved that assurance. Katie's countenance gave me visual evidence that it really is possible to love and be loved that way by my Creator, and I knew that if my heart could grab onto that level of assurance then I would never be afraid of anything again because nothing would matter except that which matters to Him.
When Sherry and I had the opportunity to meet Wade, the person God provided to help us through a particular family crisis, we got to know a young man who epitomized our understanding of passion and surrender to God's plan for his life and the life of his family and the Body of Christ. When the time came for this young couple to take their three children back to West Africa for their next term of mission work in Guinea Bissau, I missed them deeply. But thanks to 21st century technology, wireless communication keeps friends close. From the first e-mail reports of the new work they were beginning as Youth for Christ missionaries in a land of deep spiritual darkness, my heart was stirred to join them there, and every successive report just intensified my desire to be a part of what they were doing. Without ever expressing that desire to Kate or Wade, I left it in God's hands to orchestrate or not, according to His plan for my life.
Last April I received an invitation from Kate to bring a team of women from America to shower the local women of her village and surrounding area with the love of Jesus by pampering them with massages, pedicures, manicures & facials. These are typical spa treatments common to us but utterly unknown to women whose physical labor from morning to night to keep their families alive in primitive conditions is all they know. Her vision was to provide them with a gift of extravagant, individualized hands-on love from the Lord that they don't even know is available to them. She wanted to see some servant hands literally become the hands of Jesus on these women's aching muscles and sore feet, and share with them the message of hope that can be theirs if they choose to follow this Jesus. They don't have to live in fear any longer, as Jesus has the authority to drive out those demons that keep them enslaved to an existence of hopelessness and dread. But how will they know unless someone tells them? And how will they believe the message unless they see it demonstrated by those who have already received forgiveness and grace?
And so it was that I said yes with my husband's full blessing, and the preparations began. The demon worshipping animists hidden in a handful of tiny villages of the West African bush were about to meet the Jesus Spa.