This blog is written by Mike Verkaik, who God has used to transform and disciple many lives through mission trips to Africa.
As May begins, my attention generally turns to the final preparations for the Holland Christian High School trip to Beautiful Gate in Lesotho. However, this year is different. After much prayer for God to make a way for this group of students to experience His kingdom on African soil, I regretfully had to cancel our June trip.
There are some prayers that as an Oceans staff member we pray all the time. One is that God would bring a revival, a great awakening of the Father’s love for His children. We long for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab. 2:14) We have seen glimpses of that outpouring in the transformed hearts of teens and adults alike during our trips to Africa.
This past February, on our last trip to South Africa, I met Johann Kikillus, founder of Ocean View Care Center. Listening to his passion against injustice, his dedication to serve the least, and dependence on God was a blessing and inspiration. In a recent discussion he states, “I used to take teams all over Africa and I learned very early that God didn’t send us to a place to go and change it, we are the ones that come back completely changed … I want to encourage people to come to Africa, to encourage and help laborers, but also to go back with a renewed faith and go back and change your world.”
Johann’s thoughts depict the experiences we have witnessed time and time again. Recently, Jillian Dokter, a 2018 participant on our June trip returned from serving for 9 months at Beautiful Gate. She recorded a podcast with host Bryant Russ. As I listened to her heart, I gave praise and glory to our Father in heaven for the Holy Spirit’s work in her life. Listen to her heart:
In Lesotho, I had my heart broken in a way I had never experienced before. I have never been that close to extreme poverty or vulnerable children. So, I couldn’t not respond. I started praying about what does my response look like? God placed on my heart to go back to Lesotho long term.
Through my experience, I’m more aware of the world as a whole. I came face to face with a lot of brokenness and pain while I was in Lesotho. I’m more aware that the world is broken, but with that I’m more aware also how faithful God is in the middle of it all. I praise Him for the way He showed up again and again. I have a better understanding of who He is and how He meets us in the chaos … over and over again God told me I am all that you need.
God as a Father really came alive for me when I was in Lesotho. I had to process a lot of things. Like, is the reality that these children don’t have earthly fathers going to affect their view of God as a Father? What does God as a Father look like for children who don’t have earthly parents? Processing through all of that I got to appreciate God as my own Father even more. I feel like I got to appreciate that characteristic of God as my Father more deeply working with kids who don’t know any father figures.
Hearing the impact Jillian’s time in Lesotho had on her life led me back to our prayers over the past months; prayers for the end of the pandemic, the ramifications from it, and for a revival of the heart of the Father. However, ultimately it brought me to the surrendering heart taught in the Lord’s prayer – Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Will you join us?