In 2009 God saw fit to call me to the mission field for a third time. I would be traveling with a team from my church to conduct a three day overnight camp for orphans, street kids, and extremely needy children in Beirut.
My perspective of short-term missions was always centered on what I could do for God, how I could allow Him to use me. Even with a servant's heart I had missed the primary purpose of His call. It wasn't what I could do for Him, but rather what He would do through me and within me.
So often we pride ourselves on our obedience and willingness to do what God asks of us or to go where He sends us. In doing so we oftentimes miss the lessons that he is seeking to teach us so that not only are we drawing others closer to him, be that we are being drawn closer to him as well.
It's funny yet amazing how God works. Today during my quiet time He gave me one of those "Aha!" moments that only He can give.
As I am preparing this year to return to Beirut for the third time, I finally began to understand why God kept sending me there. There were lessons for me to learn. Lessons that directly collate with the lives and experiences of the very children he was sending me to share his love with.
Each year the missionary that we work with in Lebanon develops a biblical theme for the camp. It is the responsibility of my team and I to create arts and crafts, skits, bible study lessons, as well as games and activities that will bring that theme to life for the children.
In 2009 the camp's them was "A Different Kind of Love". Because most of the children were orphans due to physical and sexual abuse we wanted them to come to know God's sacrificial, unconditional, and eternal love.
As a survivor of sexual abuse, I knew that this trip, the camp's theme, and my connection with the children would become a part of God's healing process for me. To what extent, I didn't know. But my heart was now becoming more and more open to all that God chose to reveal to me.
The healing process from sexual abuse and inappropriate relationships had left me with a warped impression of love. To stench of hurt and deception that I had experienced was still so fresh to me along with my desire to be loved the right way. I desperately wanted to experience a love that was real. A love that was lasting and reassuring.
God's love was what I'd been longing for. His love is love in the purest and rarest form. No love can top God's demonstration of it through the sacrifice of His Son. He voluntarily-without hesitation gave His life for me.
When I think about that from a human perspective, the shedding of one's blood often brings pain, harm, or destruction to the being. I would seldom relate it to the cleansing, deliverance, or healing of the soul. As I've heard it said "Only God's love could accomplish the shedding of red blood that covers our dark souls and makes it as white as snow".
Only God can take the pains of my past life and bring forth new life! The death of my sinful nature had birthed the new creation that I was to be in Him.
God's love is different. It is like no other. His love has never harmed me; it has always protected me. His love has never deceived me; it has always guided me. His love has never grieved me; it has always been my comfort.
God's love is different. It is different in its depth. It seeks to mend the soul. It seeks to grasp the spirit. It seeks to change the heart. His love is different in its motives. It destines to reveal the darkness of deception and shine the light of truth. His love pursues the painful past to prepare me for the present so that I could conquer the future with a renewed mind, a standing faith, and a surpassing peace.
God's love is perfection. His love completes me-heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit it makes me His.
His love is life. It connects me to my Creator, my Love, and my King-the Source of life. There is no greater love than His because there is no love like His.
Chantelle Cudger was born and raised in Atlanta, GA the sixth of eleven siblings; she holds her family close to her heart.
She attends First Baptist Atlanta where she has also served in the Pre-School Ministry for 9 yrs. She is also actively involved in both short-term missions and local outreach