It feels strange to use “I” so many times as I write to update you on the amazing things God is doing through TRAC, specifically in the settlement of the Kapanda family. Although this story feels quite personal to me, my hope is that my reflections will share how the Kapanda’s are an inspiring testament of Christ’s promise, while articulating beautiful evidence of truth.
I’m calling 2017, “The Lord Will Provide.”
Working as TRAC’s Settlement Director is a privilege I’m blessed by every day. We experience God’s promise: Emmanuel, God with us, every day. The journey of settling the Kapanda’s has brought the story of Abraham to life in front of my eyes. Let me try to explain.
This year I frequently found myself walking blindly into new seasons, feeling uprooted from sudden change, sitting confused in situations that didn’t line up with my plans and dreams, stuck in places that I wouldn’t have chosen and didn’t ask for, and in situations where I genuinely thought I would be better. God brought me to the promise He made to Abraham when he travelled to the Promised Land. He provided Himself, the same God who in 2017 met me vividly in all seasons. In His snow boots and parka to wrap a blanket around my shivering shoulders, building a fire when my hands were too immobilized to move on my own, and under the hot sunshine joining me in bare feet and sunnies to dance in flowering fields. The promise wasn’t simplicity or that life would unfold as planned. He doesn’t promise a world without illness or heartbreak. This year I saw through surrendering the way I want to write my story, and assuming a humble position of hopeful faith towards how He will write it, God’s tangible provision in all circumstances bringing life to His true promise. He promises Himself, Emmanuel, God with us.
I can’t imagine Abraham’s confusion or heartache as he trekked up the mountain with his beloved son to sacrifice him in blind obedience to God’s instruction; the weight of what Abraham must’ve felt as he fully trusted and prepared to slaughter Isaac. But at the last minute, The Lord not only provided a ram in the thicket, He graciously spared Isaac’s life. Abraham fittingly named that place, The Lord Will Provide.
I’ve been blessed to hear parts of Kapanda and Cecile’s story. Though painful to reminisce, they vulnerably share and never fail to say “The Lord was with us then.” They never expected to have to flee their country because of corrupt violence. Their home and native land. They didn’t ask to spend years displaced from their home, powerless to provide for themselves, experiencing unimaginable loss and uncertainty about the future of their children. The indubitable understanding Kapanda and Cecile have of His promise, God with us, saturates their stories and reflects in a way that shows me the power of naming all seasons, “The Lord Will Provide.” It cultivates a life that reflects this trust through the overflowing love, faith, hope, and obedience as I see exemplified by Kapanda and Cecile.
Most of 2017 for me was (metaphorically) frolicking through fields, hand in hand with people I love, full of joy, exuberant thanksgiving, light, and blossoming flowers. However, some unforeseen turns brought me to dimmer, rougher trails. When on these paths my mind felt full of chaos. Overwhelmed with emotions that felt 8 sizes too big for my body, I would find myself in desperate need of stillness. The August afternoon we received notice that the family was arriving in 4 days was one of these times. I’m ashamed to admit that my initial reaction was panic and fear at the seemingly impossible feats to accomplish. My brain was in overdrive.
God spoke life into my self-made bubble of doubt through the form of those I trusted.
“Stop everything. Pray. Invite and ask others to help.”
In quieting my heart, He led me to Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight your battles, you need only to be still.”
Say that out loud a couple times.
What a God we serve to offer such a promise, the promise of Himself, Emmanuel, God with us. I stilled my heart and let God lead the preparation, through prayer and thanksgiving laying my plan on the altar in obedience. We saw and continue to see tangible provision in the most powerful ways I’ve ever experienced. A ram in the thicket. A home, a loving landlord, servant hearts who helped us move in, patience to get the paperwork done, being covered in encouragement and prayer, amazing alumni to come alongside us, volunteers who dove all in when I needed it most, and so many more blessings. I am calling this place The Lord Will Provide.
In a chilly season this fall, the reality of how unequipped I am to be in this role banged on my heart. My 19 years of life experience can’t even begin to relate to the things even Dorcas’ 8 years of life have brought her through. A loved one reminded me to be “infusing myself with truth” in addition to seeking stillness.
God is good. He is working all things for my good. His power is made perfect in my weakness. I’ve known these truths since I was 3 years old, I’ve always believed them with all my heart. But God wants more and has been patiently teaching me by settling it in the deepest parts of my heart that I didn’t even know were hardened. Reminding me constantly through multiple modes including the many beautiful souls at Trinity, His creation, His Word, and especially through the refugee family I blindly agreed to settle at the beginning of 2017, long before I knew their names or heard their voices. The Kapanda’s love to sing. The kids sing at the top of their lungs in my car, Cecile sings as she cooks, and Kapanda sings as he prays. They sing words proclaiming truth.
“Uko mwemba Baba” means “You’re a good Father.” “Aliahidi atatenda” means “He promised and He will.” “Fadhili zake ni za milele” means “His grace is eternal.” “Mungu ni mwaminifu, kwa ahadi zake wanadamu” means “God is faithful, in His promise to humankind.”
During the many hours a week I spend with them, the truths they sing infuse my heart and heal. They will never know the magnitude of it, but God knew and He provided, a ram in the thicket in His perfect timing, and I will call these places The Lord Will Provide.
Over and over again this year, in all seasons I’ve seen this promise unfold. In a quiet room surrounded by truths written on the walls, and stillness all around me Jesus brings me closer to His heart as I learn the significance of setting my heart on the altar asking God to take what little I can offer, trusting that in this heart space He will provide a ram. To prioritize the one on one time every relationship needs to flourish, to establish intimacy, to initiate vulnerability, to nurture the love language of quality time, to worship, to adore, to exalt, to receive the greatest gift. The greatest reward. The greatest promise that quenches the thirst of body, heart, and mind: Emmanuel, God with us. We must be still. We must stop everything. Pray. We are not enough, but He will multiply and provide.
Traversing through loss of health, relationships, and endeavors I saw as answers to my prayers, God redefined what I had stated in my humanly limited language. The Promise Land itself was not Abraham’s reward, Christ is. A safe home in Canada and hopeful future is not the Kapanda’s reward, Christ is. Season spent frolicking through fields is not my reward, Christ is. And this year, as things I was passionately invested in were stripped away from me, my roots were still identified in Christ and His presence is the Promise. I will call this place The Lord Will Provide.
The Kapanda’s hold onto the hope and promises of Christ like nothing I’ve ever seen before. This family warms hearts by their radiant love for Christ. They lead lives overflowing with grace and patience and trust. They rely wholly on God to provide their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. They’ve travelled a long and hard path, which reflects God’s goodness and redemption all the more intensely. I have been stretched, challenged, touched, and healed by the Kapanda’s past stories of courage and faith, their current expression of love, and their hopeful anticipation for the unknown future. Technically my role is to lead a team in walking alongside the family for their first year in Canada, however I’m the one who is blessed to have them walking with me, shaping me, challenging me daily to let go of the story I’m trying to write with a dull pencil on a wet napkin, surrendering it up to the God who provides when I make that sacrifice. The God who promised Abraham, who promises the Kapanda’s, and who promises you and I the greatest gift of Himself, Emmanuel, God with us.