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Happiness can’t be pursued, it must ensue. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. ~Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.

Many people are huge adventure enthusiasts. These souls live for the thrill of feeling every sensation their shaking bodies offer as they climb huge cliffs and hang upside down, to bungee jumping, or sky diving.

When some people learn how I spent two decades crawling around the sewers of Bucharest looking for Sewer Children and in the war zones of Sudan and South Sudan, they think that I am one of those adventurists. If fact, the night before my first trip to Darfur, I had such a horrible nightmare about it that I almost didn’t go. I was looking for an out.

Then on our last stop we’d planned to spend a few days with James, a scrawny young man who liked to preach to orphans, but who wanted to feed and protect them, too. Still, after hearing his story—and his impossible dream—I crawled into my tent that night, seeking respite. Even that didn’t help much as it was still about 120 degrees.

I had lost so much weight and I felt so scared, so desperate, so hot, tired, and hungry that I made a rash decision that I would scurry away out on a little prop plane that was flying in to pick up another team member in the morning. His departure was preplanned, though. Mine was a panicked leap from the escape hatch and being the only woman on the 25-member team, I felt particularly exposed. I was tired of scampering around trying to find a bush to squat behind—not an easy thing in the desert.

And worst of all, I was tired of feeling powerless to make a significant impact. Women were being raped every day just for going out to find water. People were dying from things they didn’t even know they had…you just had to watch them dwindle down day by day. We gave out some food, water, and medicine but ran out quickly as so many thousands of refugees had flocked into the desert hoping to hide from the Janjaweed.

I crawled out of my tent with a bit of relief that I’d found a solution. James’ response was a bit different. He hurled in disbelief, “What? I thought you were a Christian! And, those people are dying out there every day because no one cares enough to be uncomfortable with their pain and share in their suffering for a time.”

With my tail a good bit lower than when I bounded out of my tent with “the solution”, I lay once again in my tent with my Bible on my chest and pulled my headlamp on. I let my Bible fall open on its own and it landed on John 21.

After a fruitless entire night of fishing, we’re told, “Jesus said to them [the disciples], ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ Simon Peter brought the fish and counted them. There were 153.”

I thought of how Jesus didn’t just tell the disciples “feed my sheep”, He first showed them by feeding them and thousands of others. I stayed in Sudan.

My fear did not leave me, but I learned to see it more as a wise friend–even if an unpleasant one–listen to it and discern where the real threat may be…like finding a black mamba in the outhouse as bats are flying up from the hole in the ground between your legs!

I also learned that to be a true adventurer, where your feet take you is not what’s most important. It’s where you take your mind and where you let the heart of God bring yours into complete connection with him. There you will know your true purpose—vocation—and find that peace no matter what our circumstances afford us.

This is where we find the truth of what Victor Frankl wrote in my leading quote. It’s like feeling the Storm of the Hound of Heaven’s breath upon the back of our necks, letting it chill us to the bone and open our imaginations to what is possible when we don’t let our fears drive us.

Love, your sister along the journey,

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