I don't believe anyone thinks that someday they'll end up halfway across the world living a highly unconventional life. Growing up, I tried so hard to just do what everybody else around me did. Find a job. Work my behind off. Stay away from debt. Be smart. Be simple. I was "normal". I poured myself into mentoring high schoolers at my church. I became assistant director of the theater department at a local high school. I got involved in Zumba at a gym, I lost 80 pounds and became an instructor.
Then God reached down and took hold of me. He radically shook up my life. He gave me an unusual joy. A spirit of youthfulness and wonder. A sense of humor. And a mind that thinks out of the box. And He did all this when I was 28 years of age. I became a completely different person.
As these changes occurred, my desires and personality completely transformed. Or maybe they were just finally beginning to show. Either way, a new person in the old life I once had wasn't working out so well. I tried to ignore this for as long as I could; until one day I found myself leaving a meeting at work in which I was being promoted and crying the whole way home. There was no logical reason for it; I was finally becoming successful in my job. But something just wouldn't settle within my spirit.
I wrestled that night with The Lord. I felt something wasn't right. And He clearly showed me that He's been preparing me for years for what was about to happen and then revealed to me what it is He had planned. And I knew right away that I would end up living in Africa. That moment life as I knew it changed.
Within a week I was asked by my church to go on a short-term trip to South Africa. (Without them even knowing what had happened!) I looked at this as the perfect opportunity to try things out. Sure enough, by the time we were there for 24 hours, my heart had leapt out of my chest and into the hands of Africa herself. The people. The culture. The land. The music. The animals. I lost my heart to her the day I arrived and she'll hold onto it for eternity. I didn't even want to come back home. And as soon as I did, I began speaking with and searching out various organizations to work with. It happens that my parents have been supporters of Agape Children's Ministries for years- a modesto based organization bringing the hope of Jesus to the street kids of Kenya since 1993. I know some of their missionaries. So I began a dialogue with them. Within 2 days of chatting, everybody felt I could possibly be a great fit for Agape.
So here I am. A normal, youthful girl involved in normal things, ready and willing to give up normal for a life of sharing the hope of Jesus in Africa. I have been invited to visit Kenya for a month in May. The ministry and I will be checking each other out. If it looks good, the next step is applying for a long-term position in which I'd be going back to Kenya in September for 6 months of language (Swahili) and culture school, and to work I go! Of course, I will be living and working on full support, so everything depends on the raising of finances. But God owns it all, does He not?
Check out Agapechildren.org to see what they're up to. And to get involved in my adventure with a tax deduction, you can donate on the website or send them a check at:
Agape Children's Ministries
P.O. Box 5062
Modesto, Ca 95352
Just type "For the ministry of Elisabeth Netjes" in memo line.