by Christina Finocchi
Haven of Peace Academy, Tanzania
My class is writing about their greatest memory from our trip to the Amani rainforest in Tanzania. It is delightful to read about their individual highlights, and see how unique the experience was for each of them. My highlight came in a different form. I thoroughly loved the hike up Mbomole Hill, exploring the rain forest’s night life, and descending to the waterfall, but my true joy came at the end of our trip. My true joy was really an unexpected life lesson.
Wednesday night, our final night, was spent enjoying a campfire with marshmallows, worship, and devotion. I found the weather to be quite unique for a campfire. We were in the midst of a thick cloud (fog) and a nice mist. After devotions, I released my students to go and write in their journals, and many of them chose to go write where the hot tea was, under the eating banda. I stayed and enjoyed the fire a bit longer before going to check on the group.
I arrived to find them sipping on tea and quietly reflecting in their journals. For my teacher friends, this is not an exaggeration, my students were sipping hot tea and willing writing in journals. I think it was the atmosphere of the rain forest that had them so inspired!
Soon after I had gotten to them, I felt the wind shift drastically and the temperature drop. I was fairly certain we were about to get rain and a lot of it! I quickly told all of my students to head for their tents immediately because I wanted them in their tents before it started to rain. They grabbed their journals and went.
I decided to stay for a moment and clean up what was left from their quick departure. Little did I know that God’s providence over the weather was going to mean a divine appointment from Him. As I was cleaning, one of the managers appeared out of what seemed to be nowhere. We began to talk about how our visit had gone and the highlights of the trip. Then the conversation shifted, quite like the weather that was now very calm. The gentleman shared with me something that really brought joy to my heart as a teacher.
He shared how happy he was that our group came out to Emau Hill. It had been a long time since he had seen and met people and children that were so genuinely living for God. It was inspiring that the children were eager to pray personally and openly for meals and each other. He could tell that there was a real love for Jesus and each other, as well as caring, compassionate hearts in each of them. He expressed a deep appreciation that these qualities are being fostered in our students and that they rose up to living their life in this way. This was something that he needed to see and be a part of for his own spiritual walk.
Our conversation and opportunity to minister continued for several more moments before we parted and went our separate ways. As I walked down to my cabin, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time, and that the encouraging words I had the opportunity to share were from the Lord.
The unexpected lesson: We were at this camp, in Amani rainforest, to learn and explore. We were rather secluded up there with mainly workers and staff as our only contact, other than each other. I will be honest, we didn’t go up thinking about who we could minister to. We went about our daily lives being ourselves! We prayed throughout the day, we had daily devotions, and we lived each day as if it were our normal daily lives with a rain forest twist. In the midst of being who God made us to be, we were light to a heart that needed tending and we ministered simply by our actions.
I fully know we are to be conscience of ministry opportunities and generally I will say that we do look for them, but my reality check was that God used us to minister and be light when my students were just being children and living life the way they were taught to live. Their genuine hearts shone through, their love for Jesus was evident, and their good works brought glory to God, and in this instance the ministering just came so naturally. I thought to myself, “Aren’t our lives supposed to naturally reflect this light and minister to the broken?” When we focus our attention on Jesus that is exactly what our hearts and lives will do.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.