Adventuring Into The Unknown: How God Taught Me Peace In An Anxious World

According to new research from Oxford University Press, ‘anxiety’ has been chosen by UK children as their word of the year for 2021. This doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, least of all young people. The last two years have been tough. As an 18-year-old coming towards the end of school, the pressure to make decisions about the future is always hard, but my generation has felt like we are guessing in the dark – not sure what will be possible and what will be permitted. The last two years have been marked by uncertainty and the unknown; by anxiety. 

A STEP OF FAITH

Five months ago, having just finished my A-Levels and with COVID-19 restrictions easing, I decided to take a step into the unknown, although I didn’t know it at the time. I boarded Logos Hope, the ship run by the organisation Operation Mobilisation (OM), as part of their Short-Term Exposure Programme (STEP). I had dreamed of spending my gap year on the ship ever since I’d had the chance to visit it when I was ten years old. Pandemic or no pandemic, I was sticking to my plan. 

STEP is a three-month programme working on board Logos Hope and travelling to different countries to provide practical support and share Jesus’ love with local communities. As I write, we are anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone, where we will remain for five weeks before moving on to Ghana.

The fear of stepping into the unknown and taking risks is perhaps greater now than ever. When I first climbed the steps of Logos Hope to board the ship my head was full of anxious thoughts, but also of plans for the future. I would soon discover that God had far bigger plans for my time on Logos Hope than I could have imagined. I have seen that it is in the discomfort of not being in control that our faith grows, and we learn to truly trust God. 

A BIGGER VIEW 

Our first port of call was The Bahamas. Logos Hope is home to the world’s largest floating book fair, promoting literacy and education around the world. As soon as we arrived in port, we opened the bookfair and people began flooding in. 

The Bahamas was very different to my hometown of Swansea, despite both being coastal. The culture shock was a little overwhelming at first! The white beaches and clear waters were breathtaking. I got the chance to go snorkelling in the reefs and the diversity of life and colour blew me away. I grew up hearing that God was the creator of everything but being somewhere so different to home opened my eyes to the wonder of His creation. Each new place we have come to dock has been completely different, a new place to acclimatise to, but also a new place at which to marvel. Having this bigger view of creation has been deeply humbling and a precious reminder of the majesty of the God who created it. Even from that first day, I began to realise how small my world had become, shrunk to the size of my room and my worries.

A FULLER PICTURE

It hasn’t just been the vibrance of scenery that’s amazed me; it’s been the people too. Life on board Logos Hope is a melting pot of ages, cultures, nationalities, and personalities; all eating, sleeping and working together. It has been the first time I have lived alongside cultures that are completely different to my own. I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a challenge at times. I discovered the indirect British approach to conflict is definitely not something that is shared with other nations! Culture is central to people’s identity, how they see the world and most importantly, how they see God. It runs far deeper than simple mannerisms.

It’s the same story on shore too. During our time in port, we have ‘C-days’ (Connect days), where we get involved inlocal church ministry and sports ministries, as well as offer practical help, such as eye testing, working on building projects or donating books. Attending a local church’s Sunday service is something to be enjoyed. The dancing, clapping and exclamations of the congregation took some getting used to, their joy and the love we received spoke volumes of the incredible love of our Heavenly Father.

We also go out to chat with people on the streets and share about Jesus. Evangelism is always nerve-racking and definitely out of my comfort zone. But as we stepped out in faith and shared Jesus’ love, I was amazed by the fruit He bore through our work. In The Bahamas I got talking to a security guard who believed that one of her children was an angel and one was of the devil. We were able to share Jesus’ love, pray with her and give her a Bible. 

Meeting new people is often scary and anxiety-inducing, let alone sharing Jesus with them. Most of us are pretty out of practice since COVID-19. At home, it was tempting to hide and avoid meeting new people. 

A CLEARER VISION 

During my time on Logos Hope, God began to open my eyes. I have come to realise that my view of God was limited. I had squashed God into a box that fit my understanding of how the world worked. I expected Him to act in a way that aligned with the values and behaviours I had grown up believing. But God is so much bigger than I imagined. The more I have seen the world and seen it through the eyes of others from different cultures, countries and backgrounds, on board and in port, the more my understanding of who God is has grown. Sometimes it’s been uncomfortable and challenging to reconsider what I thought I knew and to step out in faith. But as the walls of the box were broken down, I have begun to see the beauty and magnitude of God’s character in its glorious technicolour.

My plan was to do the three-month STEP programme, but I have just extended my time on Logos Hope for another two months and have been looking into OM’s other programmes. I don’t know where God will lead me, but I trust the path He has set me on and I’m at peace, despite the uncertainty. I will go wherever He sends me next in the adventure of living out His love. I’m excited to see what is ahead!

Written by: Megan Hills

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