For those of you who have met my father, it is easy to understand that his simplicity and desire for adventure can create a complex and unpredictable journey. I remember so clearly the call from my dad in April of 2017. I was driving back from class at Virginia Tech when my phone rang. I picked up and heard the words that everyone who knows him has heard so many times, “Hey buddy, there is a trip coming up. You interested?”
A trip with my best friend—are you kidding me? I was super interested.
He went on, “I need you and Justin to take the food into Nuba, I can’t go on this one.” I knew the people of the Nuba Mountains were facing famine and needed an emergency shipment of food, but instantly I was flooded with thoughts of, “God you have got to get me out of this, I do not want to go to Nuba and I surely don’t want to go back to South Sudan/Sudan without my dad.”
However, as the couple days passed (that was how long my dad gave me to decide), God made it so clear that His plan was for me to go and step out from under the wings of my father.
In Mark 6:7-13, we see that Jesus has spent time training his disciples on how to hear from the Father and go out into the world. This part of the gospel is when Jesus comes to his disciples and essentially says, “Hey buddy, I want you all to go out and tell people about the love of my Father.” Jesus continues and gives them instructions so they are not lost, gives them encouragement so they have hope, gives them a friend so they’re not alone, but most importantly, gives “them authority over impure spirits” through access to the Father. Jesus knew that stepping out was a scary moment for the twelve, so he did everything he could to prepare them for the moment.
It took me months to realize that my earthly father was preparing me, while also recognizing that, ultimately, my heavenly Father was the one behind the preparation.
I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me on this trip. I would read on the internet about the dangers of the Nuba Mountains and the enemy instantly would attack me with fear. So when the day came to leave, I hugged my beautiful blond headed wife, kissed her one last time, checked to make sure I packed my retainer and I was off. After several days of traveling, we finally reached our destination.
We spent six or seven days going from village to village, handing out sorghum to the starving people. The joy that swept across faces as people began to receive their food was incredible, however, the best feeling was watching Justin Dowdy—a man that demonstrates a tender side of the Father’s heart I am almost positive no one else has ever had—play with these kids. The dude was magic.
Picture this: We are standing at the school in Nuba that was bombed and destroyed by the government. The same kids that fled the building to dive into holes they dug by hand for protection are watching JD do a magic trick with a rock—in the exact same spot.
I tell you what, in those brief moments of fun and joy, you never would’ve thought those kids ever faced any trials. Joy and laughter ran across their faces, and for those brief moments every worry and fear was gone. Likewise, every fear and worry I was experiencing was gone.
You see, although the enemy wants to come and cause us to operate in fear and with restraints, Jesus came to set us free from that.
Jesus knew that the training for the disciples was only half the fun. He wanted them to have the real-life application outside of his physical presence. And he didn’t send them out just for himself. He loved them so deeply that he wanted more for them. He desired for them to continue their growth and apply it.
I mean isn’t that the goal of every good father or mother? They desire to train their kids and send them out into the world, and they take nothing but pride and joy when they see their kids succeed. The Father is the same, He delights in our stepping out in the midst of fear. He knows that the moments we enjoy life the most will happen only when we step into what He is calling us out to do.
ATC Field Coordinator Jake Fuller took his first trip out of the country at nine years old. In the 15 years since, he has traveled with Answering the Call to Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, Costa Rica and Lebanon. He and his wife live in Southwest Virginia. When he isn't working on the family farm, he is attending classes at Virginia Tech to finish his Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science with a Minor in Social Change and Leadership. After graduating early this May, he will pack his bags and depart for an evangelism trip to Darfur, Sudan with Answering the Call.