(jesse and Pam Bingham)
I want to begin with a story. This story is about a seven-year-old girl who dreamed of one day going to South Africa. The little girl’s mother went on a trip for two weeks to Johannesburg to see her brother and sister-in-law who were missionaries there at the time. When she came back, her mother showed the little girl pictures of all the children and landscapes and animals. The little girl listened to stories of her mother’s incredible experience in South Africa and she was filled with wonder and compassion. From this moment on, the spirit of adventure was instilled in the little girl’s heart and she decided that she wanted to go to South Africa too.
(Jesse's mom, Pam)
My name is Jesse Bingham and I was that little girl. The dream that I had as a seven-year-old is the same dream I have today: I want to go to South Africa. I can feel God pulling me there. For what reason? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping I will find out once I get there. A few months back, I attended an interest meeting about this trip to Sweetwaters. As I sat in the boardroom and listened to Jason Hester, the board director and the founder of Restoration Hope, speak his heart about Sweetwaters I once again began to feel God telling me to go. At first, I thought, “I’ll go, Lord. Wherever You lead me, I’ll go.” However, the longer I sat in that wooden chair, the more my thoughts leapt from obedience to fear. Thoughts of doubt flooded my mind, “But God, what about school? I’m going to be missing a whole week and I’ll be way behind.” I heard the still, small voice of my Savior saying, “Jesse, just go,” but I wouldn’t listen. Again I thought, “Well what about the people? I really don’t know anyone is this room. How can I possibly go on a trip with strangers?” Still I heard, “Jesse, go.” Once more, my stubbornness got the best of me: “But what about the money? I can’t afford this on my own. There’s just NO WAY!”
And then, I remembered a sermon by Brennan Manning I had just listened to a few days prior. He spoke on trust. Manning explained that trust is our gift back to God for his unconditional, sacrificial love. He told a story of a theologian by the name of John Kavanaugh who, after being exhausted from teaching and in a state of confusion, went to visit Mother Teresa in search of some answers. When he found her, Mother Teresa asked if she could pray for him specifically. He agreed and asked if she would pray for clarity. When Mother Teresa refused, Kavanaugh was very surprised and insisted, “But, Mother Teresa, you always seem to have clarity.” Mother Teresa laughed, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.” So that’s what I did; I trusted God with the biggest dream I’ve ever had. And today, God is honoring that dream. Today, I will be boarding a plane for the first time in my life to go to the place I’ve always hoped I would be. I gave God my dream twelve years ago and today He has turned it into a reality. It’s so encouraging to know that we serve a God who knows our desires. I can’t wait to see what God is going to teach me during my time in Sweetwaters.
Jesse will be taking over our Instagram during her time in Sweetwaters. If you would like to continue following Jesse’s story, follow us on Instagram @restoration.hope.