It’s a truth we all know, deep down inside somewhere. If you’re anything like me though, you choose to ignore or suppress it a great deal of the time.
The truth is this: “You only grow out of your comfort zone”; and in the mission fields it can be rephrased “You are only really effective once you get out of your comfort zone”
This is a biblical idea – after all, God Himself asked Abram to leave everything in which we find comfort; the familiar culture, an established home, and even his family. God sent Moses back to Egypt – the land he had fled from for fear of his life! Joseph, too, was uprooted from his family & home, and his life for a time was incredibly difficult. All of these people needed to leave their comfort zones in order to play an effective part in Gods great plan.
In these past two years of doing full time outreach work we have experienced this truth very practically:
- In meeting people from very different cultures. It isn’t very comfortable trying to hold a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak your language. Yet doing so has brought us wonderful friendships with some inspiring people – some of whom are now our family in Christ!
- In having to pray in front of an audience. This is quite daunting, especially when you are young and know that some of your audience could do it much more eloquently! Yet this has forced us to meditate on & strengthen our personal relationships with our heavenly Father.
- Similarly – in leading Bible & Sisters’ classes. Public speaking is not something most people feel comfortable doing, in fact it is quite scary! Yet in being willing to do this we have been constantly encouraged to expand & deepen our own biblical knowledge.
- In taking the road less traveled (or in this case leaving the road altogether!) to find a preschool in the middle of a squatter camp. If we hadn’t – we would never have known the oasis that is the Mvelaphanda preschool; we would never have been able to help those many children; we would never have met & been encouraged by the teachers who are making such a big difference there.
- In little things like giving someone a lift home – yes it means your journey is extended by half an hour, yes this isn’t fun when you have a hot, grumpy baby in the car. but how else will you get the chance to show that person that you really do care? Remember – “people only care how much you know, once they know how much you care.”
- In watching many of the volunteers who visit do something that they really thought “I could/would never be able to do that” & seeing how this builds up their self-confidence & self-worth. Besides the fact that they always have fun performing the task anyway!
These are just a few ways in which we have experienced the benefit of getting out of our comfort zones. It does require more work, and sometimes sacrifice – but also offers that much more reward! Working as part of a team, within a structure where you commit to participating in certain programs definitely helps – when you are reluctant to take the step there is someone else to give that gentle but necessary nudge.
Here are a few of the many people we have been blessed to have met on our journey “out of our comfort zone” so far:
The Kingdom Kids (our “special” group) are a great, close-knit group of kids who are committed to God’s word – attending both Saturday Bible Club and Sunday School!
Our Congolese brethren & their families – some of these people travel hours each Sunday just to be at the meeting.
Molly – one of the many wonderful preschool teachers, offering a safe haven, nutritious meal & quality education – often for free when she knows the parents can’t afford it.
Jacky – our newest sister in Christ, bringing energy & passion for God’s word to every meeting & sisters’ class.
The Saturday Bible Club group – these kids choose God’s word over TV and other such activities every Saturday. Here they are being given a small & unexpected reward by some volunteers.
With love in Christ
Michael & Lilandi Furstenburg