I had a pretty sheltered upbringing. I’m ashamed to say I was very oblivious to the wider world around me and I had no idea of the extent of poverty in this world – until I went on a trip aged 12 that really opened my eyes to the world outside of what I knew, and began a passion within me for ending global poverty.
This summer I continued my journey into understanding the magnitude of world poverty, and I felt called to fight against it in an active way. Through a Tearfund ICS mission trip, I spent three months in the Limpopo region of South Africa. I stayed in a small town ship called Segwasi, where I lived and worked in the community. You see the photos on television, you see the statistics, but living within a community where poverty was such a reality was an eye opening and heart breaking experience. And yet I saw so much more laughter and faith in this tiny village, than I have seen in a whole city in the UK.
Still, the struggles I witnessed haunted and angered me. How is it fair that people are scared of leaving their houses due to the violence in their townships? How is it fair that a child is denied health care because the family don’t have enough money? How is it fair that families have to wonder where their next meal is coming from while I live a ridiculously comfortable life? I can never unlearn the things I experienced this summer and I wouldn’t want to!
Since returning to the UK, I have had such a desire to change my own and others attitude to the world around us. Every decision we have affects someone else: the clothes we buy can either support or reject unethical clothing companies who are exploiting workers; the food we buy can cause deforestation and pollution depending on the air-miles our food has travelled to get to our table; the amount of electricity we use contributes to global warming and changes in weather patterns upsetting crops and livestock production around the globe.
Admittedly, I find the concept of ‘calling’ scary. It is a loaded word and seems a strange idea that my life is planned out for me. Acknowledging that you have a calling, is leaving behind the preconceptions you had of your own life and your own future plans. Yet no matter how much we think we know about ourselves, the Lord knows us better. And who wouldn’t want to live their life the way God has set out for them? The Lord has given us talents and gifts for a specific purpose. He knows how we are going to expand His kingdom, He knows what is going to challenge us and make us grow closer to Him and He has crafted us in such a way that our calling is perfect for us.
Calling can be also such a cliché and may be seen as a way of proving you are Holy and that you hear God’s voice in a spoken, clear way. I have never heard a big booming voice saying “you have a calling to global poverty” – I wish it was that easy for me. Hearing that voice is not how many people discover what their calling is. More often it comes in a gentler and personal way. Has God placed in you a fire for something when reading the news what makes you angry or sad? What has the Lord gifted you with that you can use for his glory? Tune into what makes you, you, what makes you different, because every detail of who you are was made for a reason and a purpose.
Calling is not always comfortable, often it’s the other way round – your calling can be the thing you are most reluctant to do, the thing you find the most challenging, as following the Lord is not the easy path. It’s so much easier to say “I won’t follow you” than saying “I will”. It requires courage to step out in faith to challenge ourselves and fully follow God. I love my comfortable life – my family and friends near by, the food I eat and where I live, but how much more exciting is it that I don’t know exactly where I am going, I don’t know where God wants me, but I do know its going to be where I am meant to be!
Calling doesn’t need to be big, it doesn’t always mean travelling to the other side of the world, it doesn’t always mean giving up everything. It can be helping the light of the Lord shine in your work place, it can be making friends with the man who sits on the street near your house each day, it can be acting in such a way which supports the world around you. All callings are equal and important, all callings are part of the Lord’s amazing plan, all callings take time, all callings are part of your story.
Words by Alice Adderley