This is the first in a short series of throwback posts, stories about our time in Africa a few months ago.
As we were looking back over the last 11 months and thinking about some of our favorite parts and most meaningful time, we kept coming back to the time we spent in South Sudan with Seed Effect. Reminiscing made me realize that I never shared many of the stories we captured from that incredible time. Part of our time in South Sudan was spent gathering stories for Seed Effect to be able to share about the work going on there and for supports to get a feel for what it’s like there. But it was such a powerful experience for us that I wanted to share them on our blog as well.
I came expecting neatly buttoned up stories of past hardship, then with God’s intervention through Seed Effect, a transformation, renewal and new hope. I had drawn up in my mind a neat beginning, middle and end, all tied up with a bow. And I was expecting to fill in these predetermined blanks with the client’s details.
But God had a different plan. Today when we went to hear stories, we didn’t go to a market where the clients had been with Seed Effect and experienced life change yet… instead, they were on their very first loan, just a month or two into it. To be honest, my first reaction was disappointment when I learned this. How am I supposed to get these triumphant stories, when there hasn’t been time for it yet?!?
But as I listened to Clements and Kenny talk about how they are learning to trust God, and how they want to grow their businesses. And as I got to encourage them with 1 Peter 5:10 “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” God reminded me that His establishing, restoring and strengthening of us isn’t a past tense story – it’s happening now, it’s ongoing.
God reminded me that none of our stories are finished. We are all in the midst, none of us complete. And how short sighted of me to think any of God’s stories of work in us are neatly packaged.
That’s what faith is about. I can hear Kenny talk about his carpentry shop and how he wants to invest in more timber so he can build for more people in the community, and while his life doesn’t look much different yet… than it did a month ago before the loan, I hear the hope in his voice. And I know it will be different because God is working in his life through Seed Effect sharing the word of God with him, through my prayers for him. We are all unfinished, but God who began the good work in us will bring it to completion.
Seed Effect comes alongside Kenny and Clements and dozens of other clients to wade through the messiness in the middle. And celebrates the small transformations along with way, with full faith that God is using it to bring glory to Himself and draw us closer to him. Because God promises that he will establish, restore and strengthen us through it.
The words of one of my favorite worship songs echo in my head as I reflect on today, “You’re not finished with me yet! You’re not finished with me yet! By your power, I can change, I can change, because you’re not finished with me yet!”