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He Makes Our Hearts Nice

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by Madeline Chuvalas Madeline was a member of the 3-Month South Africa IMMERSION team in 2017. This blog was written after her first month in Olievenhoutbosch, where she worked in the school and spent her time serving and "living the local way."

I am very aware that I have only been in Africa about a month, but I feel as though God has taught me enough lessons to last a lifetime. In these past few weeks, God has shown me so many new things. Things I didn’t understand before as well as things I never took the time to think about. The lesson that is on my heart most often and stands out above the others is the fact that God loves me.

Now, when I say this out loud or even type it my immediate thought following is to take it back. How does it make sense that in the place and situation I am in that God is revealing how much he loves ME? Shouldn’t I have known that before jumping on a plane and flying across the world for a mission trip? Shouldn’t I be preaching about the big miracles and changes that are supposed to go on during these kinds of trips instead of what is happening in my own heart? The truth is I did know God loved me beforehand. I have been reminded of that my entire life, but never have I been able to comprehend the extent of this love.

As I am sure many do, I have spent most of my life attempting to earn God’s love in its entirety. I stressed constantly about where I stood with God and whether or not I was doing a good enough job as a Christian. This is draining and also wrong. Christ did not come to earth and die on the cross for me or anyone else to believe anything other than the fact that we are all so deeply loved by Him. This love does not have to be earned, it is already there. From the moment we are created, God loves us so incredibly much. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:17-19…

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should how wide, how long, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Apparently, I had to come all the way to Africa to grasp this idea, but for that, I am so thankful. Jesus has revealed this in a way that has changed me forever.

Africa Mission Trips

Every single day at the school, without fail, I am greeted with a ridiculous amount of love from the kids. This love remains throughout the day and then the week. One young girl in particular has just stolen my heart and become my best friend. Last week she slipped a flower in my bag with a note that read “I love you so much, ma’am Madelien. When your there you make my hart nice.” I was of course immediately overcome by emotions. Here is this little girl who knows nothing of my past, where I’ve been, or where I am going but still tells me she loves me and couldn’t care less about all those details.

As I continued to read Ephesians and think about the love of these children, I finally got what God was trying to show me. He loves us the way the kids do! He doesn’t care where we’ve been or what we’ve done. We don’t have to earn it or even ask for it. He already decided from the day we were created that he was going to love us endlessly.

This has easily been one of the best changes I’ve ever made in my life. Waking up each day confident in the fact that Jesus loves me rather than taking on the day trying to earn what is already there is, as you can imagine, much better. Still, when I thought about it, I didn’t understand why God was trying to make a point to ME that I am loved by Him while I’m on mission in Africa. Shouldn’t I be teaching others around me that exact same thing? This shouldn’t be about me, right? Wrong.

Every day God is showing me that if I’m not convinced that He loves me then how can I convince others of the same thing?

Africa Mission Trips

The truth is that God loves every single one of us to an extent that we will never understand. How exciting is that? This lesson is fueling my passion for telling others about Christ. I want everyone to know! What a perfect time to realize what an amazing thing God’s love is. Paul wrote in Roman 8:38…

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…”

I am overjoyed to say that I am convinced as well. I pray that God uses this joy as a way to show others how incredible He is. I pray that His love shines through me when I am serving, playing with the kids, or having a conversation in any place or time. I am so grateful for this change and for God’s timing. I can’t wait to experience more incredible lessons in the upcoming months.

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