Missionaries transform hearts, find joy on other side of the globe
By Mike Haynes
Charlie Webb grew up on a Texas Panhandle ranch. She played sports at a small school, made great grades, was a regular at the Methodist church and has a loving family. She’ll be a sophomore horticulture major at Texas A&M this fall.
Yet one of the most meaningful moments of her life so far happened on a bus ride through
Uganda in May.
|Charlie Webb of McLean|
makes her way down a
Ugandan street in May as a
group of motorcyclists passes by.
Charlie is one of many examples of church members young and old who have stepped out of their air-conditioned buildings to spread the Christian message in various ways, serving and learning on mission trips in what has become a small world. Or to her, maybe a big one.
After two days of travel from Amarillo to Gulu, Uganda – including an eight-hour flight to Amsterdam, another eight hours on a plane to Entebbe and six hours on a bus to Gulu – the McLean native emailed her supporters, “The world is gigantic, y’all.”
She was the group’s designated reporter and sent updates a few times during the two-week trip sponsored by Antioch Community Church in College Station. Because she was perceptive and descriptive, she gets much of this space:
“On the bus ride to Gulu we bonded over the sights of the big city, Entebbe, and the rolling plains/jungle of Africa. Our bus ride was punctuated with many laughs and many naps and one adventure of buying pineapples and mangos. …
“We are specifically looking for people of peace (Luke 10:1-12) and people who are seeking something more than money or good health for their life (Matt. 13:1-23). We want to try and help these people develop a personal relationship with Jesus so that when we ... leave, they can effectively share and spread the gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit. …
“We are not trying to share the gospel 20 times a day. We aren’t trying to get five people a day baptized. We aren’t having 15 people say the prayer of salvation. My point is that we aren’t after a
certain number of bodies to simply say they
believe in Jesus.
|McLean's Charlie Webb in Uganda|
“We are trying to transform hearts. And since we are after people’s hearts, it could very well mean that we only spend our entire time here pouring into a very small handful of people. … If the people here have shallow faith, they can’t effectively share with others after we’re gone. … We want to create something here that will last in the long term. …”
Charlie sent reports from co-missionaries Abigayle, Jonathan, Tyler and Margret, each of whom touched the heart of at least one Gulu resident. But Charlie herself summed it up well to her email recipients:
“I wish you could know what it’s like to dance in the rain and have this realization that you’re in Africa. I wish you could experience the joy of dancing with a little girl for Jesus. … I wish you could see the miracle of healing. … I wish you could understand how precious water is in other cultures. … I wish you could taste the foods of the Ugandan culture.
“I wish you could know what it’s like to walk down the street and have everyone stare at you because of your skin color. … I wish you would understand what it’s like for all items to be secondhand. …
“I wish you could experience being immersed in a different culture but coming to the honest conclusion that we’re all just human beings and that no matter how different we look or act, we all
experience the same thoughts and feelings. … We share the
same big blue planet, the same moon and the same big bright star; we’re all
just trying to live this life as best as we can and hoping that it will be
worth it in the end.”
|Charlie Webb, fourth from right, poses on top of a bus|
with some of her Uganda mission teammates from
College Station in the African nation in May.
The group took time out for a safari where she and the 16 other young people saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs, monkeys, crocodiles and a lion. But it wasn’t the sights of Africa that made the biggest impression on Charlie.
“On the bus ride back we had this random sing-along/dance party. We had the windows open. The sun was setting. And as I was sitting there basking in the cool, humid, evening wind, I looked around at our group and had this overwhelming sense of love and joy. …
“It’s a moment when your heart is so full of love or joy that it feels weightless. … It’s a moment when there isn’t a trace of fear or worry or stress. … I don’t know that I’ve ever felt such a sense of family and community from people I’ve only really known for a little more than a week. … And six months ago I had no clue that I would be in Africa with 16 other amazing, godly people who I’ve known for less than a year. …
“Now I have 16 people I can truly call brothers and sisters in Christ.”