When the End Draws Near

Three months ago, I arrived in Lome, Togo and started an adventure with Mercy Ships aboard the Africa Mercy.  As this journey comes to an end, I am constantly reminded of how much I have changed in this short time.  I know that returning home will be a challenge and a struggle. 

In journeying to the missions field, one finds themself constantly relying on God.  I felt it when I did week-long missions trips to Honduras.  I felt it while spending a month at a summer camp.  I felt it while spending four weeks in the middle of nowhere, Uganda.  I feel it after serving three months aboard a floating hospital ship. 

In the missions field, you learn to let go of everything and allow God to provide.  I learned how to slow down, ever so slightly, and how to quiet my mind and listen to the silence.  I discovered how close God was in every aspect of life and how his hand is in and on everything we do. 

When returning to the western world (Europe and the States) many people fall back into the habit of relying of their own strengths and forgetting that God is essential to who they are.  It isn’t a sudden change, but it is something subtle, something that few people notice. 

I have been told to make sure I have a time to reflect on everything I learned before heading home.  To go travel to get reacquainted with ‘normal’ society.  To take time to pray.  Not jump in to everything.  Not to expect people to understand.  To know that you can never fully explain how you have changed.  To know things have changed and you will no longer ‘fit in’ with the rest of society. 

Each missionary who returns home finds themselves in this situation.  After experiencing the culture they are in and relying on the grace of God, they see things differently.  They are forever changed.  The person they once were may still be there, hidden underneath layers of God’s work.  They haven’t become someone new, but they have been given the opportunity to experience God in every aspect of their lives. 

I do not have the words to explain everything that I have seen, felt or experienced in my time with Mercy Ships.  Nor have I been able to explain these things from my trip to the Agule Community Health Center in Uganda last summer.  Nor from the two separate months I served at the Saranac Village in upper-state New York with Young Life.  Nor from the two, week long trips with Crossing Boarders into Honduras. 

I can tell you what happened, but I still struggle with telling people how much these adventures have changed me.  I don’t think I will ever fully be able to share the experiences with everyone.  No missionary can. 

Yes, I will return with many stories to share, but it wont be the same. 

As I sit here, looking out over the Port of Durban, I can’t help but think of everything that has happened in the past thirteen weeks.  I can’t help but think of how different it will be when I return home.  And in this change, we find out how much we have grown. 

God Bless and PEACE

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3 Comments »

  1. Mila Said:

    Great post. Would you allow Mercy Ships to post on our Facebook page.

    • stkerr Said:

      Yes. I have no objections to it, though I just finished my time aboard the Africa Mercy… I hope to return some day to the Africa Mercy family.

  2. Hi Sean,

    I went to high school with your mother and saw your post on FB. I’ve been a missionary in Russia for about 10 years. A good friend of mine spent 2 years on the African Mercy working as a nurse. I really appreciate your post. I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few thoughts I have after reading what you’ve written.

    First, I know what you mean. God does a deep work and it’s hard find the words for the spiritual growth and stretching that happens.

    One thing that has helped me whenever I visit the US — to always keep an attitude of moving forward into what God has ahead. I try not to say that I’m going ‘back’ to the States. The Lord said that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for service in the Kingdom. I always want to go forward into the good work that God has prepared in advance for me to do. I encourage you to keep moving forward with Him. Don’t think of yourself as going ‘back’ to anything.

    Remember that your family and friends have probably not changed very much in the time you’ve been gone. I’ve certainly experienced an odd sort of pressure to conform to the way people remember me, rather than being fully who God is making me to be. Be willing to be different, perhaps very different.

    If you’re interested, you can see more about what we do at http://www.cantrell.cc and http://www.StoneworksInternational.com.

    Blessings,

    Mike


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