About this time two years ago, I was sitting in my parent’s home in South Africa, probably with a cup of rooibos tea, sitting in front of my laptop attempting to search for colleges. College searches are a lot harder to do when your road trips are reduced to website surfing and your “general feel” of a college is based solely on their website images. I knew one thing though. If I was going to cross the Atlantic and leave my church, parents, family and friends to do what I believed God had called me to do… I needed family on the other side. I needed campus ministry I could connect with and a church family I could grow up in. So I started my REAL college search in the Every Nation campus ministry directory.
As much as this was a major intellectual epiphany to me at the time, this was clearly something God had come up with long before I caught the idea. When I first walked in to King’s Park Raleigh on a Sunday morning in August 2012, I felt like a late guest at my own family reunion. Not only did everyone seem to know who my parents were (or had been on missions trips with them to Australia in the 80s) but the pastor – whom I had officially met a scant ten minutes beforehand – introduced me to everyone before his sermon! I got to see people I met at a cookout earlier that summer – who not only remembered my name but gave me huge hugs as I came in – and I met almost everyone else by the end of the morning.
In the years that I have been at King’s Park Raleigh, I have come to feel more like a daughter in my Father’s house than I had ever known. This is no small statement for me – to come from a loving, close-knit family inside a loving, caring, close-knit church, and to still reach new revelations of love has been a humbling experience. I had something of a tough week last week and couldn’t make it to church. One of my closest friends dragged me aside after church the weekend before and gave me a package of rusks (a cherished South African delicacy) as she had been thinking of me that week. Last Saturday night, my “adopted Dad” took me out to gourmet dinner for a post-Valentine’s treat and treated me like a princess all night. On Sunday night, after coming down with a sudden and serious stomach bug and headache all at once, my friend and campus minister, dropped everything, drove to Meredith College to pick me up, took me to a pharmacy, would have let me vomit in her car and taken care of me that whole night. When I left in the morning, she ransacked her closet and fridge for vitamins and mineral water to keep me hydrated.
The most beautiful thing about each of these precious people is that in every case, I hadn’t asked for anything and they didn’t expect anything in return. I didn’t even let on how I was feeling. They saw me when I was down and went out of their way to encourage me, to spoil me, to take care of me. Every act was self-sacrificing and had no promise of reciprocation. Each act was out of tremendous, unmerited love. And the best part is that this is only a shadow of the tremendous affection my Father in Heaven has for me. He not only sees me when I’m weary, He maneuvers ways to bless me and remind me of His jealous, protective, nurturing love. What kind of a God is this? How can so much tremendous love be poured out on such an unworthy recipient?
When I was making the decision to leave my family in South Africa, I heard His voice like a tender whisper to my soul; “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me… He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39 NKJV). He is a jealous God. Jealous for your love and absolute devotion even if it costs your closest relationships. But He is a good Father. He knows what you need before you ask, and when you obey Him, you can trust that He will “satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.” Little did I know that one big step across an ocean would put me in a family that God had prepared for me way in advance. He really does know how to give good gifts to his kids!
-- Jean Webb
Jean Webb is a sophomore at Meredith College studying Political Science with Law School interests after graduation. Jean is from a missionary family in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a member of King’s Park Raleigh where she serves on the worship team.