By ANNIE WESCHE
I stood in the street next to the idling taxi cab, feeling small and unbearably vulnerable. It was still early in the morning and the rising sun fell over the city of Kunming, China, like a thin blanket of warm, golden haze. The hum of the street noises dulled to a muffled blur as I listened to the racing beat of my heart. I looked down at the white-knuckled grip I had on the open taxi door and wondered if I could actually do this. It was only weeks ago, while safely back at home, that I had signed up to tag along with a medical mission team heading to the largest city in the Yunnan province. And since I had no medical training whatsoever, I now found myself setting out alone into the city for a different kind of assignment. I attempted to gain control over the nearly paralyzing fear that mounted within me and forced myself into the cab, shutting the door behind me. I can recall only two moments in my life that I’ve actually physically shook with fear — this was one of them.
Only days before, I’d been very happy with my “comfortable” tasks of helping out at the mission headquarters, handling odd jobs for the staff, or babysitting some of the missionary kids. But I couldn’t escape the thought of just how close I was to fulfilling a long-held dream. Ever since I was thirteen, I had carried a burden for China’s orphans, grieved by the one-child policy that had resulted in countless abandoned baby girls. These were the little ones God had used to first awaken my heart to His burden for the orphan, and now, there I was, actually in China.
As I sat in bed one night with my Bible opened on my lap, my thoughts drifted to the orphanages that were no doubt in this very city. But our trip wasn’t purposed for that. The medical team was visiting hospitals and rehab facilities — not attending to orphanages. I closed my eyes and earnestly prayed that God would somehow open a door, and as I shut off the light and laid back to close my eyes, God’s clear direction filled my heart: Tomorrow, when you go to the mission house, ask the director if you can go visit an orphanage.
The next morning, I did ask, and was swiftly met with an immovable “no.” The ministry didn’t have any connections with orphanages in the area and the nearest one didn’t even allow Americans to visit. Well, that settles that — door closed, I thought. But in the two nights that followed, each time I went to prayer, God continued to press upon me that I was to go and ask again the next day. Day two brought another no. But on the third morning, as I stood before the missions director — quickly apologizing for appearing rude in my persistent asking, and explaining what I believed God was putting on my heart — something changed in her expression. With smiling eyes that searched my face, the director finally said, “Okay, Annie, I’ll ask around.”
My heart soared all day on the hope that I was about to fulfill my dream of embracing the abandoned children of China … until that evening when I was handed a 3×5 card with instructions on it. Suddenly, my soaring heart plummeted into the depths of fear. On the card was scribbled the message: “Annie, tomorrow morning, get in a taxi and go to the Blue Bird Cafe in the middle of the city. We’ve found a contact who will then take you to the orphanage from there. When you’re done, get in a taxi and come home.”
WAIT. ONE. MINUTE. Lord, this is NOT what I had in mind. I can’t go ALONE! I’m not qualified for this! I don’t know the language or how to get around the city by myself — I don’t even know how to use a phone in this country! This isn’t what I was asking for … Lord, no … no, You’re supposed to have someone take me.
As uncomfortable as it was to wrestle all through that night with my fear, it allowed me to grapple with what had unfolded and, in the stillness of the night, draw near to my heavenly Father. Didn’t you ask Me for this? He asked gently. And of course, He was right. It wasn’t how I had envisioned it unfolding, but I had trusted Him to open the door, and He did. Now I had to trust Him to walk me through the door He had chosen for me.
Now, as I willed myself to sit down in the taxi and be taken further and further away from the only people I knew in China, I felt the full discomfort of being stripped of earthly securities. And in the moments that followed, I forced my fearful heart to think upon all I did have — Jesus was with me. I was not lost or alone, if I had Him. As Scripture verses came to mind, I whispered them out loud, and, one by one, they began to melt away the trembling in my soul and silence all the “what ifs” that had bombarded my anxious heart.
We arrived safely to the Blue Bird Cafe where I paid the driver and watched my last connection to the mission team disappear into the busy city streets. I was early, so I sat down on the curb outside the restaurant to wait. Over and over, I recited Scripture in my head and felt its beautiful power subdue my fears. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you…” (Is. 41:10). His Word filled my heart and mind to the point that heavenly reality became greater than the earthly realities I feared.
I met up with my contact, who drove with me to the orphanage and walked me inside before saying goodbye. I was then led into a small room with 15 cribs — each one holding a tiny, sickly baby. Four Chinese women of varying ages stared at me in silent wonder as they hurriedly moved through the process of feeding, changing, bathing, and swaddling each infant. Some of the babies were sick, with machines hooked up to them and the tubes entangling their fragile frames, while the rest laid there either lifelessly or crying mournfully. Frozen for a moment in time, I stood there and marveled, I’m here. I’m here in one of the rooms that I’ve imagined for years, about to hold the babies that I’ve prayed for on countless tear-filled nights. Thank you, Jesus, for leading me, beyond my own weakness and fear, to this place. Thank you for Your help when I was so afraid, and thank You for Your inexpressible love for me, and for each of these beautiful children. I then moved forward, reached down to pick up the baby nearest to me, drew her in close, and whispered into her ear, “You are loved by your Father.”
I look back on that day as an incredible gift from my heavenly Father. He took me by my trembling hand, led me beyond my weakness and fear, through the challenges before me, and into a greater understanding of His surpassing sufficiency, trustworthy faithfulness, timely provision, and unfailing love! That day changed my life for many reasons, but the greatest treasure I gleaned was knowing more of the very real presence of my Jesus and the power of His life within me.
Dear sisters, God never means for His children to be mastered or led or hindered by fear. He is to be the only Master that leads our hearts, minds, and lives. Trust that the next time He calls you into the unknown or sets before you a dream bigger that what you have to offer it, He means to work something miraculous in and through you for the praise of His glory and name. Even if you close that taxi door still shaking, He will come, as sure as refreshing rain on dry ground, to meet your every need. Just look to His sufficiency and gaze full in His wonderful face.
You will keep [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because [she] trusts in you.
You can have all this world, Just give me Jesus.
– adapted by Fernando Ortega