Who Knew an African Safari Would Teach Christianity 101?!

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 in Faith | 69 comments

It’s been my lifelong dream to go on safari in Africa.  But after my amazing week at CURE Kenya, I didn’t know how even the famed Masai Mara could possibly compare.  I had felt God’s Presence and Love so powerfully at the hospital!  It was bittersweet to leave such a meaningful experience and start a new, totally different adventure the same day… especially one that wouldn’t be as overtly “Christ-centered,” I thought.  But grateful for the opportunity–not to mention during peak season of the wildebeest migration–I asked God to open my eyes, ears, heart and mind to whatever HE wanted to reveal.  With my family back home in the States, this safari was a vacation with my “first love” (Revelation 2:4).  I was excited to take Jesus’ hand and follow wherever He’d lead… physically and spiritually.

The morning before my first game drive I prayed:  “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5).  “Teach me” He did!  It didn’t take long to sense God’s glorious Presence just as strongly as at CURE Kenya–albeit very differently.  “All day long” my eyes feasted on image after image of the stuff dreams are made of, and I SAW different truths of Scripture… just like I had “seen” Psalm 23 the day I met Emmanuel!  My amazingly creative God revealed Himself to me in ways I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else on the planet.  There’s much more, but these are five highlights of what “God my Savior” showed me….

1.)  His AUTHORITY and PEACE – My first lions were basking in the sun like my Beagles on their backs, shamelessly “spread-eagle.”  Amused, I was also captivated by the “King of the Jungle” who wasn’t remotely disturbed or affected by the commotion around him.  On his throne, he embodied peace.  I thought of another sleeping King:  “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!‘  He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?‘  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Matthew 8:24-27).  As followers of Christ, we have a King with complete authority and power, Who saves us when we think we’re going to drown.  Jesus is our “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

2.)  His STRENGTH – Perhaps my favorite animals on the entire safari:  a BABY elephant and his mommy!!  Sure of the answer, I still HAD to ask my guide:  “May I pet them?”  He looked at me and ever-so-kindly said, “If you want to get killed.”  Yes, these animals are frighteningly strong–even the cute, “little” baby weighing in around 400 pounds.  I was reminded of the “fear of the Lord”… a fear that is a healthy RESPECT for Him who is SOOOOO much stronger than we.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

3.)  The need for a guide – There is NO WAY I would have seen some of the amazing animals I did without my two guides leading the way.  Risasi–a Maasai warrior–and “GG” (pictured in my photo) could see things I couldn’t; they had special “eyesight” I didn’t.  It would have been foolish to try to lead myself through the vast, unknown terrain… I NEEDED a guide!  What a perfect analogy, I thought, for how much we mortals need–and benefit from–an omniscient God who provides direction through our lives.  Because of Risasi and GG, my days were filled with blessings!  Similarly, by following Jesus, we experience the most abundant life possible.  “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).  God’s guidance for us is found in the ancient and present truth of the Bible:  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

4.)  Heavenly rewards beyond our wildest dreams – After falling in love with birds this past Spring, I was especially excited to see the winged creatures of Africa.  But even my most fantastical imagination wouldn’t have prepared me for the splendor of the Lilac-Breasted Roller.  A bird splashed with seven colors.  Plumage so vibrant it looks to be from another world.  The LBR–so named because it rolls in the air while mating–reminded me of the indescribable Paradise that awaits us in heaven.  “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).  Being with Jesus… face-to-face… forever?  It will be glorious Light, Love and Joy beyond anything we would imagine!

5.)  “Someone has to die so that someone else can live.” – A baby wildebeest’s head trapped inside the jaws of a 15-foot-long crocodile is not an image I’ll soon forget.  Neither animal was moving.  GG explained this was a recent kill; the crocodile was suffocating the baby wildebeest before eating it.  As I sadly watched I heard GG say, “This is Africa… someone has to die so that someone else can live.”  I knew in that moment God had spoken to me of Jesus… reminding me His Son died a horrific death on the cross so that you and I could live free from our sins.  As awful as it was to watch the cute baby wildebeest die, I know it’s nothing compared to what Jesus suffered for you and me.

But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus rose again!  And on safari I “saw” Him rise again and again!  How convicted I was to have thought this safari wouldn’t be “Christ-centered”… ANY and EVERY day of our life can be filled with God’s Presence and Love as we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

As they say in Africa, “Hakuna Matata!”  Amen!

2 Comments

  1. Beautifully said, Laurie. I feel like I got to experience a bit of it with you. Fantastic.

    • Thank you, Nancy… I’m glad you feel that way:) I’m SO appreciative of your prayers while I was there! I know you would LOVE the LBR….

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