Hello…I’m Ashley Beckford. This past October, I got the amazing opportunity to go on a mission’s trip to Africa; specifically to Zimbabwe and South Africa to lead worship for women’s conferences. I absolutely loved my small team of seven, and surprisingly, we all got along so well. You would think that seven women, moving and breathing and living together for three weeks would be a disaster… cat fights and all. But despite our very different personalities, we developed a love for each other.
It was so apparent that each person on the team was divinely appointed. While I led worship for the events, the other ladies gave their testimony or shared God’s word through a message. Every event was different, and every audience was unique. We went from doing a conference under a grass hut in the middle of nowhere to a nice church with sound, lighting, and video. We went from having our messages translated to not needing translation; poverty to riches; lively and charismatic worship to conservative and inward worship. The list goes on. The diversity in our events was a blessing and a challenge. It was wonderful to experience so many different cultures and ways of life, but challenging because we were never quite acclimated to one place. We had to “read” the crowd in a moment, and our theme became “go with the flow”.
Our conferences and events focused on the topic of brokenness. It was really intriguing to experience the brokenness in Africa. Not only was there an abundance of it, but their brokenness was very similar to the brokenness in America. The ladies we ministered to were going through the same issues we go through… relationship and marriage issues, money and job issues, health and infertility issues, etc. I discovered brokenness is universal.
Despite our initial fear of American women not relating to the women of Africa, every song, testimony, and personal hardship fit right into their world. We visited many broken and hopeless places, but surprisingly the people were so joyful. In fact, I have never experienced people so full of joy like I did in Africa. It really challenged me and forced me to ask some hard questions. Why don’t I have joy like they do? How can they be so happy when they live under such impoverished conditions?
After much processing, I realized that their lack of distractions and material things made it easier to keep their eyes on their true joy: JESUS. Jesus was all they had. Jesus was the one they looked forward to. Jesus was the beginning and end of their day. Jesus was all they needed and Jesus was the source of their joy. I was so inspired by this joy and have since been challenged to fix my eyes on Jesus despite all of the distractions and material things we have here in America. The Africans looked at us as rich Americans, but they were the rich ones.
It was such a blessing to go on this trip. Despite the actual effort it took to get there (raising money and many hours of travel), I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am so thankful for what I learned and I will never forget the people and experiences. I went there to bless others, but ultimately, I am the one that was blessed. My eyes are much wider and my heart much bigger.
Thank you Ashley! Please check out Ashley’s blog at ashleybeckford.wordpress.com