“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Last summer, I was able to participate in a missions trip to a city in Northern Europe with a group from Providence. There is a large Muslim population in the city and our goal was to evangelize the neighborhoods where most of them live. We happened to go during Ramadan, which impacted the entire structure of our trip. During this month-long holiday, religious Muslims fast until sundown, then eat and fellowship together late into the night. Following the rhythms of the neighborhood, we stayed inside most mornings and ventured out in the afternoons and evenings as people began their preparations for the evening feast.
Every outing was structured around prayer: praying before we left, praying while we walked, praying through every interaction with the locals, and praying afterwards as we returned home. One day we each loaded up backpacks full of New Testaments written in Arabic that we intended to distribute to the Muslim neighborhoods. A friend and I were sent to one particular area of the city, where we quickly ran out of places to leave the Bibles. Our backpacks still heavy and unsure of where we even were, we began to pray and walk down the street.
On our left, we noticed an elderly Muslim struggling with several bulky bags, and as I went over to help, something told me that she spoke French (I am a French teacher). When she thanked me in Dutch, I responded in French, and her eyes lit up. She cheerfully struck up a conversation with me. She was headed home to finish preparing a big meal for her family and willingly accepted our help to carry her bags.
Her home ended up being about 20 minutes away, so we were able to talk about her family, her religion, her daily life in the city, and even politics. I repeatedly shifted the conversation to the Gospel as my friend prayed, but every time the woman changed the subject or avoided my questions. She clearly had zero interest in talking about Jesus.
As we reached her high-rise apartment building, she buzzed in, took her bags from us with a smile and another “thank you”, and closed the door. My friend and I looked at each other; another conversation that had led nowhere. Then, we caught a glimpse of the names on the mailboxes alongside the building and realized that, in fact, that conversation had been very fruitful; it had led us into a Muslim neighborhood that we did not even know existed! As we emptied our backpacks in the mailboxes around us, we rejoiced in the sovereignty of God. Though our steps seemed in vain, God was guiding our path all the while.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
How often have I read those words, yet how rarely do I let them truly resonate in my heart! There in that foreign city, as my friend and I acknowledged Him in prayer, God quite literally made our path straight. But in the day-to-day, things are not always so clear. Recently God has been revealing my tendency to lean on my own wisdom instead of trusting in Him to act on my behalf. If only I would prayerfully acknowledge Him in every circumstance, rather than relying on knowledge gleaned from a broken, dark world! His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), but He is completely trustworthy. May His hands ever guide us on the path He has for us, here in Raleigh and all over the world.