As I sit here continuing to fight back the tears and hard time I am having adjusting to being away from Malawi, I’ve thought I’d attempt to put in to words why a 25 year old man can’t even fight back the tears following a brief 3 weeks in Malawi. The emotions that continue to overwhelm me range from incredible joy to deep depression. In striving to be completely authentic, please let me explain a few of these struggles, followed by my best attempt at rationalizing each item. I could write for days about all that I learned from the full-time missionaries, the people of Malawi, and all the ways The Lord blessed our group throughout our time in Malawi, but today I just wanted to pick a few items that seem to be heaviest on my heart.
I struggle with the fact that I may never see those kids in Malawi again, and that they may not have more young missionaries visit them again for quite some time (June was the first month they've had any missionaries visit their village in 2014). I struggle to read through the letters that so many of the kids wrote each one of us missionaries, or to look at the pictures and bracelets they made to express their gratitude, and desire for us to come back soon. I struggle to think about the tears shed by one of the cottage moms as she reflected upon how much it meant to her to see her boys have an opportunity to spend 3 weeks learning more and more about sports. I struggle to think about the challenges and trials the Rafiki Overseas fulltime missionaries must continuously encounter as they are so outnumbered in the work they’re completing throughout Africa. I pray that the severe sadness that I feel when reflecting upon this struggle is simply meant to serve as inspiration to ensure that MOAM continues to grow and fund even more mission trips.
I rejoice when thinking about the God-connect I believe the Lord created by connecting Managers On A Mission with Rafiki. As many of Rafiki’s oldest children are just now becoming teenagers, one of the biggest challenges Rafiki may now face is providing outlets for these developing children. As Auburn’s Director of Football Operations, David Gunn, explained to our players during routine “Auburn Manhood” meetings, increased sexual drive is one of the biggest challenges and temptations young individuals can face. I believe MOAM can help Rafiki’s children navigate this potential pitfall. Sports are an incredible outlet for young children, but it is very difficult for Rafiki’s children to learn more about sports when there are so few individuals available to focus their efforts outside of daily survival.
I struggle with accepting that our departure ended with so many tears. I can’t help but think about the possibility of our goodbyes bringing back painful memories to these children of times in which they experienced even deeper sadness and abandonment, and were left by their parents, or handed over by their relatives because they could not even afford to meet their physical needs. This abandonment was not simply being left behind by a friend at a party, or left out from a special event, but legitimate abandonment in which the children were left, or given up by every single person they knew. Sometimes through being left on a bus, the side of the road, or in a dumpster outside of a hospital. I struggle with thinking about how untrusting I would be of everyone or the identity issues I would have if I came from a circumstance similar to theirs.
I rejoice in the fact that the Lord has worked through Rafiki to help develop these children into the strongest Christians I know, and understand God’s promise that we will meet again. It brought me great comfort to hear young Muiza explain that he no longer cries during good byes because he knows, and clings so tightly to this promise from God. I rejoice in the fact that their faith was strengthened even more by MOAM’s student manager missionaries as they learned how to apply God’s word to sports each day we were there. I rejoice in the fact that MOAM’s student manager missionaries utilized their powerful influence to the fullest throughout their 3 weeks in Malawi. I would be willing to argue that there may not have been any individuals in all of Malawi that were more closely watched throughout the past 3 weeks than MOAM’s student manager missionaries. Praise God that Mikey, Justin, and Meredith each used this platform in a positive way. MOAM will continue to pride itself on having the best mini missionaries in the world.
Selfishly, I struggle with feelings of loneliness and depression as I come to accept I have no job lined up now that I am back in MN. I struggle with trying to comprehend and accept that Managers On A Mission has become so heavy on my heart that I quit my job at Auburn, and have walked away from what I believe was a very promising career in the sports industry. There are times when I experience a great sense of freedom when thinking about the opportunity I now have to pour even more effort into something that means the world to me in Managers On A Mission, but I’d be lying if I said this doesn't also make me feel extremely overwhelmed as I have no clue how my financial needs will be met, and often long to have a sense of normalcy or security that a regular job can provide. I struggle with the fact that for so long my identity has been too closely wrapped up in my career in sports. It has been easy to find pleasure and joy each Fall through games every weekend, and the excitement and attention that each game garnered from my family, friends, and fans throughout the country.
I rejoice in God’s promise that He gives perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm, and place their trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3). Do I, or the rest of our Board know exactly what is to come for Managers On A Mission? No. But we do have great reason to rejoice and view the future with hope as we know God is sovereign and in control. Praise God that MOAM has an opportunity to not only assist the Rafiki Foundation, but to connect future sports leaders with one of the most transforming experiences of their life, during one of the most developmental times of their life. For further evidence of the growth Justin, Meredith, and Mikey experienced – please see their blog posts.
To God Be The Glory!
Founder, Managers On A Mission
To God Be The Glory!
Founder, Managers On A Mission