Monday, September 28, 2009

Daily Bread

You would think that praying the words "Give us this day our daily bread" before ever dinner I have ever remembered would mean than I understood what I was saying.

But I dont think I did. Not until this past year.

Daily Bread. What a concept. So many times I feel like we try to run on up ahead God.... we want more. Either that or we have too little faith to think that he is going to provide for us when we need it most. But our God is perfect, He provides just what is needed, when we need it.

Last Sunday I returned to LaGrave for the first time since Serve ended in June. To be honest, I had been in some ways putting it off... though in other ways I couldn't wait to be there again. I love the people there so much, and I've missed being involved there. However, I didn't think I was ready to look in the face of my life there and know that everything is different.

But, I had thought, what could one little church service do? I would go in, listen to a sermon, and promptly leave. I would perhaps see a handful of the regulars who sat in the balcony with me, and wave to a few others as I made a hasty exit. No problem.

But God had different plans.

Upon entering the church, my friend Lauren mentioned that she wanted something to drink. I agreed, so we went off to the multipurpose room to grab some 'orange poison' (a I've come to know the juice we serve) while our other friends saved us seats up in the balcony. However, the multipurpose room was unusually abuzz, and I quickly realized that it must be Ministry Celebration Sunday --the one Sunday all year where the different ministries of the church had tables set up to make their programs known to the rest of the church body. As such, there were tables for every ministry I had been apart of, manned by the people whom I love and miss the most. While trying to act normal, a little girl named Sophie whom I had taught in my 2nd grade Children's Worship class ran up to me and threw her arms around me--thanking me for being here on 'this day'. To be honest, I had no idea what she meant, but I hugged her back and managed to gulp down my juice before going to join the rest of our friends in the balcony.

However, once joining our friends in the balcony, I knew the service was not going to be easy to endure. The new youth intern was being commissioned, and a word of what was meant to be encouragement from my friends sent me to tears. Next the commissioning of all the youth leaders was given, and my eyes welled again as I was unable to join them in standing and accepting the commissioning. Finally, my entire 2nd grade class from the year before was brought to the front and given their Bibles, and it hit me what little Sophie had been so excited about--she was glad I was there to see them become part of the 'big' church. At this point, I was about to break.... but still held it in. God had a plan in all of it, didn't he?

What came next was both expected, but completely unexpected at the same time. During the offering, the 'Welcome Registry' was passed. This is normal occurance at LaGrave, and one I should have seen coming. I had signed this said registry dozens of times, and had given no thought to it. But, that day, it was a different story. As I looked at the options, I realized I was not a full 'Member' of LaGrave, and thus could not check that box. Nor was I a 'Student' any longer, so that option was out of the running. 'Visitor' did not seem appropriate, and the thought of resigning myself to the rank of 'Frequent Attender' seemed almost like a slap in the face.

Who was I and what was I doing here?!

Checking none of the boxes, I handed off the register and headed down to the bathroom, bawling. Now, to be quite honest, I have found myself bawling in this said bathroom on a number of occasions...more than a few even during church services. Times when I felt unfit to be in ministry at the church, times when I felt God nudging me to do something I didn't want to, times when I was sad or angry or sick or in need or felt like I should have all the answers or any of the above. But on that day I just felt.... empty. I was lonely, I was feeling ridiculous for my emotional outburst over the lack of understand regarding God's plan in my life, and I certainly did not want to be crying. And so I dried my eyes and pulled myself together to make it through the rest of church.

And that's when God did it. Again.

That day, God's sermon was for me and me alone. The very first words Reverend Mast spoke were "Today we're talking about what's next." And I thought "well, that would be good to know right about now" .... and Reverend Mast went on to remind me of a God who always has the last laugh, because He is a faithful, covenant God who will keep his promises. And doesn't our God promise us far more than we let ourselves partake in?

Here's the thing about daily bread: I think God has it in for us.

I think He WANTS us to to feel overwhelmed and ready to break. I've told people before that I never want a life that I could handle... because then I would just handle it and forget God. So he pushes us. He confronts us with everything that is hard, all at once. He allows us to look back (if we really insist on it) and say, "If only...", so that we can look at Him and realize that we don't need or want 'ifs' in our lives. We are a a fallen, broken people who needs our God. I learned that beyond all measure this past year. But I also learned that our God is one who wants to save his fallen and broken people.

And so He gives himself to us, one day at a time. Like manna from heaven that spoils when we impose our own assumptions on it and collect too much, or leaves us hungry if we do not trust it... He gives us just enough of himself to get us through whatever trial we are facing.

There is an old Point of Grace song that puts it in different terms:

"We run on up ahead, we lag behind YOU. It's hard to wait when heaven's on our minds. Teach our restless feet to walk beside you, because in our hearts we're already gone. Won't YOU walk with us? Steady on."

Steady on everyone.... God will provide the bread.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Love at All is to be Vulnerable

In CS Lewis' work 'The Four Loves', he makes this great statement that "To love at all is to be vulnerable." He then goes on to explain in detail about how we could try and protect ourselves from the pain and loss that comes with loving, but then we would only be depriving ourselves of that gift which God has given us. He goes on to state,
"We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."
When everyone asks me about what I am going to encounter in Zambia, I can honestly say I have no idea. I don't know what God has in store, where I am going to be at any given time, or what type of situations I will be put in. All I know is that I am excited for what God is going to do. But I am also terrified.

Currently I am sitting in the computer lab at Calvin College. I am no longer a student at Calvin. Nor am I an athlete. In the past few months I have also had to walk away from my involvement as a Youth Ministry intern at LaGrave CRC in Grand Rapids, being a camp counselor at Summer's Best Two Weeks, and years worth of involvement with Youth Unlimited's SERVE and Convention programs. Everything that I have ever been involved with is now done.... and yet here I am. Over the past few months I have cried more tears than can be counted because I have this gift (or curse) of being extremely passionate about those things that I am involved with, and I love the people I have been blessed to encounter daily. If you have talked to me at all in the past few months I have probably told you that it feels as if my heart is being ripped out as I say goodbye to all the people who have forever implanted themselves on my heart.

Thus, the one thing God has made clear to me over the past year is that I was a person designed for community.

So what does that mean for Zambia? What is community going to look like when none of the people who I now rely on for hugs and support are around to tell me that God is in control? Who am I going to turn to when I need to laugh or cry? And, once I start building that community in Zambia, how am I going to say goodbye?

To be perfectly honest, it almost seems easier not to go. Save myself the heartbreak. Stick with the good friends I have now, settle into life, join eHarmony and find myself a good match to start a family with. Ok, so I am kidding about the whole eHarmony thing. But really, wouldnt that be easier? And isnt that good and right for so many people? Isnt that how God has called so many others before me to serve Him?

But yet, I know that God has something else in store for me.

And therefore.... I go. Terrified, without all the answers, and knowing that the heart I wear on my sleeve will probably get thrown around like a football.... but also knowing that God has called us to that type of passionate love for all people. Not trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but accepting them and offering them to Him.

So be it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And so it starts....

To all who have supported me, loved me and walked life beside me:

When I was young, a new Steven Curtis Chapman song boldly instructed to “Saddle up your horses, [because] we have a trail to blaze into the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace. Just follow your leader into the glorious unknown, this is a life like no other—this is the great adventure.” Although I didn’t know it at the time, the chorus would become a life motto that has, thus far, blessed me beyond belief. With that assurance of past grace, and the promise of future strength given by Christ alone, I have decided to embark on a half-year mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia.

Through the help of Youth Unlimited ( staff, I have been accepted as an intern to an organization called Every Orphan’s Hope based in Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia, as a country, is ravaged by HIV/AIDS. One in every seven adults has AIDS, and 10-15% of the children that the organization interacts with are already infected with HIV. Thus, Every Orphan’s Hope, as a Christian organization, is committed to “sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ with orphaned children in Africa and to care for orphans affected and infected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” They seek to fulfill this purpose “through the church and through acts of love that reveal the gospel of Christ, encourage the Church, disciple the nations and glorify God” ( The organization has 6 ministry programs that include:

  • Camp Hope Bible Outreach programming (a series of 2 week VBS-like camps held at various locations throughout Zambia that minister to orphans in HIV/AIDS affected communities)
  • Orphan Sponsorship
  • My Father’s House Orphan Homes (a program that allows 8 orphaned children to be raised in a loving home, governed by a widowed house mother, and be supported by God’s extended family)
  • selling GoodNews Wristbands (used both to raise awareness/monetary support and as a ministry tool)
  • supporting Orphan Sunday (engaging the Christian church to love, protect, pray and provide for the orphans in their community)
  • supporting Ministry Alliance Programs (in order to further the Christian ministry of solving the AIDS orphan crisis by partnering with multiple Christian organizations)

As a lone intern, I will not be embarking on this trip with any sort of mission’s team, but simply as one called to serve. Although I know my role will be to help with all six ministries of the organization, I will be relying on the staff in Zambia to make up my schedule as needs become present. I was told to be prepared for anything, and remain flexible in the face of being told at breakfast we would be leaving to journey to a remote village in order to help write biographies and take photos of orphans in need of sponsorship…. or being told to walk down the street to help scrub the floor of an Orphan Home. Every day will be an adventure requiring God’s grace and (undoubtedly) good humor.

Although I am filled somewhat with fear and trepidation at the prospect of going alone, I am at peace knowing that God is good, and the life he has called me to is much better than any I could imagine for myself. As such, I wish to thank you in advance for any support you will be providing me with. I thank you for the prayers, for checking in with me both out of love and encouragement, and for help financing my journey. Within the next 4 months I will need to raise $8000-$10,000 in order to cover my expenses (including flying to Zambia and back—the specific amount is not yet set due to outrageous airfare prices!, food, lodging, my visa, and other materials necessary for me to serve fully).

As for financial donations, all donations are tax-deductible and can be made in one of two ways:
  • Checks can be made out to Youth Unlimited (who is helping me with all the paperwork/travel involved with getting to Zambia) and sent to my current Michigan residence or placed in my parents church mailbox.
  • Donating online at Youth Unlimited’s website at: --however, please make sure to indicate that the donated money is for ‘Annika Krygsman’s Zambia trip’ in the given ‘Notes’ section

Although keeping in touch during the 6 months I am in Africa will be difficult, I will do my best to keep everyone updated through this online blog. Internet access will be limited and sporadic, but I was told it will be possible for me to post. In addition, my new (non-college!) email address is now

Thank you again for all the love and support, both now and through the years I have been blessed to know all of you. Here’s to the mysterious unknown and God’s next great adventure!

By the Grace of God alone,

Annika Krygsman