Anywhere but Africa

Anywhere but Africa
Lauren Cathers
Nov 16, 2022

Growing up I dreamed of exploring the sparkling city of Paris and traveling the world. One night, a missionary spoke at my church, and I remember thinking, “God, maybe I would travel for you as a missionary! But just not to Africa”. The continent seemed very remote and not quite as exciting as Europe. But I am so thankful that God in his mercy replaces our limited, selfish dreams with his incredible plans as he leads and guides us down his perfect path.  

Fast-forward a few years, and I found myself as a freshman at Bob Jones University. I chose to study a general medical degree, knowing that I did not want to be a doctor or a nurse (but some type of healthcare professional). I found myself frustrated by this uncertainty. Why didn’t God just show me what He wanted me to do with my life so I could begin preparing? But my brother often reminded me that God’s “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105); He promises a lamp, not a spotlight. Sometimes He simply shows us our next step and asks us to trust Him enough to follow even though we cannot see the full path ahead. 

That next step came half-way through the semester. During a mission conference week, I heard about a medical mission trip to Kenya with an organization named Medical Missions Outreach (MMO). I loved participating in mission trips with my youth group, so I figured why not do one across the world with an emphasis on my future career? However, it was a high financial cost, and it was in Africa. I prayed, talked to my parents, and sought advice before committing to the trip.  

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. 

 In Kenya, my perspective grew as we cared for people with limited medical access and pointed them to the great Physician. I resolved to go on a medical mission trip every year as God allowed. I also realized that as a nurse, I could better prepare to serve God through medicine wherever he took me. I changed my major the following year. And the austere, stark, natural beauty of the country and the people led me to praise God even more as incredible and diverse Creator of the world.  

After my pivotal trip in Africa, I went with a different team to the Galapagos Islands where I heard about MMO’s internship. God continued to guide each footstep, and I spent this past summer as one of four interns at MMO. It was an incredible two months. God taught so much, and He also confirmed medical missions as a full-time calling.  

This summer I caught a glimpse of the path ahead; and while there are still many unknowns, I am so thankful that God has led every step of the way. He changed my heart by sending me to Africa, pushing me towards nursing, and opening my eyes to medical missions, and he will continue to lead and guide through every season of life.  

Psalm 31:3 “For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.”