• Laura Monck Bryan

Never Say Never

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

I learned early on in my Christian life that saying “no” to God is something you simply shouldn't do. Like, ever. You see, God has this funny way of making you stretch and grow and learn through the very things that are outside of your comfort zone. That’s how I became a part-time missionary.

It started a few years ago, when I was leading youth at the church that I was attending at the time. An opportunity came up to go on missions to Havana, Cuba. There were many young people wishing to go, and they were allowed to do so on the condition that I went with them. The problem? I wasn't interested. It was never a place that was on my world travel bucket list, and honestly, it was just too hot. Seriously. Cuba in May is like, 50˚C. I wasn't looking forward to melting, but I also wasn't looking forward to telling fifteen young people that they couldn't go, and so, I sucked it up and boarded a plane, along with fifteen high school and college-aged kids, and four other adults. I'm sure you already know that it went well. It went very well. You see, as an extrovert, I'm not one to sit back and wait for people to give me instructions. I'm usually one of the ones asking how I can help, while I get to know people and learn new things along the way. It really is a part of who I am and how I fell completely in love with doing missions.

Fast forwarding through numerous trips, I came to what is now my home church in Glencoe. I was going in knowing no one, but had heard that they needed help with their youth program and went in to have an interview with the pastors there. Their mission board was out in the foyer, and as I checked it out, I saw the familiar face of a woman that attended the same high school as I had. She was stationed in Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa. AFRICA. Yep, you guessed it. Another place that I had no desire to see, and yet I knew that this was exactly where I would be going next. I remember telling God that he was soooo funny and that I'd be thrilled to go. I mean, why fight it? Right?

You see, when I find myself in these situations, I try to imagine how, when Mary was told that she would become the mother of the Messiah, she was all in - “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Now, I’m certainly no Mary. She was far braver and bolder than I could ever strive to be, but I have come to understand that, when God chooses you, it’s something to be embraced and celebrated ... and to be humbled by. That was exactly Mary's reaction, and I'm continually learning to react accordingly.

And so, four years later, I headed out on a team of four, excited to meet new people in a new land, and going to a place that had captured my heart before I even knew where exactly I was going. I had never heard of any of the cities or towns in Zambia, and this was probably the most remote place God could have taken me over there. Minamba is a farm block in the mountain region of Zambia. Even those in nearby Mpika aren't familiar with this place, and yet, right in this quiet little area lives a community with the biggest heart. It's dirty and messy - camping onsite and cooking at the fire each day, bringing young goats to the farm in the back of the truck (yes, riding with us), and playing with the children in the dusty football field (did I mention no showers to be had for 2 weeks?) - but it's everything I could have hoped for. I guess you could say that, when God moves you, He moves you.

I've been back each year since, and this year has been difficult, thanks to COVID-19. There were no trips this year, and there are none set for next year until we know that it's safe for everyone. But I do look forward to the day that I can set foot on Zambian soil again and be surrounded by these wonderful friends and the children that have adopted my husband and I as uncle and auntie. My heart longs for that time to arrive, and I am confident that it will happen again soon.

Missions might not be easy, and it’s never convenient, but it just might be the very thing you didn’t even know you needed. At least, that’s what I discovered - because when you open yourself up to His plans and His ways, you won't be disappointed.

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