Nine ACU students and two staff members recently returned from an eleven day service trip to Liberia, West Africa. Check out this mid-trip update from ACU junior Jake Evans. Jake first felt the call to go to Africa about three years ago, and on this recent trip he felt an even stronger pull towards overseas service.

It is about 8 p.m. in Liberia and the sun just set behind the West African ocean. I used the last remaining minutes of sunlight to take a short dip in the shallows and simply allow the constant waves to crash over me. Not to sound overtly poetic, but with the setting sun, so sets one of the best days of my life. Let me tell you though, it did not start out that way.

My eyes cracked open at around 3 a.m. and I immediately knew something was wrong: my stomach ached, my body was cold, and the bathroom was a’calling…if you’re tracking with me. Miserable is about the only way to describe the morning from that point on. I began to grow extremely nauseous. I was shivering, dizzy when I stood up, and all around struggling to stop my body from falling apart on me. Normally this would not be such a huge issue. I mean, sickness is a part of life and it usually gets me out of school, so bring it on. But in this case I was quite beyond disappointed: today was our first day of VBS at the school. It was the first chance we would have to truly hit the ground and meet the kids we have all waited so patiently to meet. It was my own personal chance to hang out, talk to, and play with some amazing African children, many of which are without a mother or father. So desperately did I not want to miss this day, that I began praying for a miraculous healing…a lot.  I have never prayed for instantaneous healing before and just begging God to heal my body was a strange and humbling experience.

One of my friends came into the room to inform me that the team was leaving and after looking at me, said that I should definitely stay off my feet today and rest. After coming out to address everyone, I was again met with wise counsel to stay, rest, and live to see another day. I resigned myself to a day spent indoors, suffering with sickness and desiring to be with the team. But as they left the house, my spirit broke. I began to cry out to God again and before I could even think it through, I grabbed my backpack and rushed out the door to catch the bus and the team. Let me say this, God doesn’t do good, God does great. Before we even reached the school my stomach had cleared, my nausea receded, and my vigor completely returned. To God be the glory forever and ever!

Meeting those children for the first time is like nothing you will ever experience elsewhere. As soon as you pull up they are cheering and screaming and more excited to see us than we could ever be for anything! Liberians know joy, but Liberian children are joy. They rush you and touch you and hug you and jump on you and laugh and smile and yell and love! And all without you ever saying a word, or giving a gift, or ever having to do anything. I have never smiled so much or laughed so hard in my life. They seep into your soul without even trying.