16 Apr Servant Teams: Stepping Into My Gifts
Ever since 2015, when she was part of the Lahash Servant Team, Difo has been a strong supporter of the program… even though participating in it meant facing one of her biggest fears! She shares a bit of her experience here, as an encouragement to anyone considering joining Servant Teams. (Note: Clark Blakeman was the Servant Teams Director for Difo’s team, before he passed away at the end of 2016.)
Nervous. Worried. Dry mouth. These are all the symptoms I experience whenever I have to speak in front of a crowd. It doesn’t matter if I know the people or not, I will still psych myself out and literally break into a sweat. I let Clark know this about me early on. I laid it all on the table and let him know what my strengths and weaknesses were. Public speaking was something I wanted to work on. Clark did not forget this.
Early in our year together, our team built trust quickly because of the deep conversations we had about theology and life. Even though we had some time off to ourselves, we were mostly together every day and we had to work together. We had to deal with our differences, encourage one another, and get over ourselves a lot of the time. We all trusted the process and depended on one another.
Clark gently nudged me on several occasions to lead a prayer, Bible study, or a book discussion with the team. These events were not so bad since by that time our team was like family. I knew they had my best interests at heart and that this challenge was a good thing – I could push myself within this space. That said, the jitters would still come when all eyes were on me and the only thing breaking the silence was the sound of my voice.
I had converted to Christianity not too long before, in early 2012, and I knew soon after that God was calling me to missionary work. During Servant Teams, I learned that missionary work can happen anywhere – in your neighborhood, at work, while grocery shopping. I learned that I didn’t necessarily have to leave the country to share the gospel. This made me more passionate to overcome my fear of public speaking, because I knew that my abilities to relate to people and capture their attention have been given to me by God. In my heart, I wanted to use these abilities as often as possible to share the gospel, however, the fear of judgment and “choking” in front of an audience too often deterred me from doing so.
Later on, during our time serving together in East Africa at Grace & Healing Ministry, we regularly attended prayer services at the local church. One day Clark said to me, “Difo, I was asked to lead the prayer service this upcoming week, but instead I think you should share that message about gifts that you shared with just our team.” I think I laughed and he, of course, smiled. I asked him if he was serious. Turns out, he was. He was serious about presenting me with an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and share a message with more than just the team.
I ended up sharing a message on 1 Corinthians 12 regarding gifts, diversity and unity in the church. Mama Askofu (Esther Muhagachi, the founder of Grace & Healing Ministry) translated for me from English to Swahili and it was good. I didn’t pass out and God’s word was preached.
In retrospect, I know that Clark believed in me and that he had my back if anything went awfully wrong. He pushed me to overcome my fear, but his ask was gentle, comforting, and exactly what I needed. His approach confirmed to me that I had a gift and should use it. Later on, I had an opportunity to speak at another Lahash partnership in Tanzania, called Path Of Hope. I taught a lesson on female hygiene to the mothers of sponsored children, and we all had a good time.
One of the central themes of Servant Teams is that we serve a relational God, and that because he’s relational, so are we. Serving in a group with people from different backgrounds and upbringing, I had no choice but to settle this in my mind, heart, and soul. The Bible says that we are all integral parts of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:11-14). In our own unique ways, we have something to contribute to the body of believers. I have yet to fully overcome my fear, but I keep working on it because I want to love people by sharing the gift God has given me to encourage them. I am so grateful for the opportunities I had through Servant Teams to step out of my comfort zone and grow into my calling as a unique member of the Body of Christ.
by Ohilda Difo Moore
Lahash is accepting applications now for our upcoming Servant Teams! Visit the Servant Teams page to learn more.