Despite all the processing and debrief time I’ve had overtime, I don’t think I can even begin to know or understand everything that God taught me and my team in Africa. All I can confidently say right now is that I am not the Lauren I was before I left for outreach. Outreach was incredibly difficult for many reasons, the typical reasons one might experience – cultural differences, jet lag, living and working side by side with people, etc., but my team also experienced a lot of unique challenges. Despite it all, we found and lived out the inexpressible joy Peter talks about. Here is a small snapshot of what my outreach was like and the ways God grew and transformed me.


Week 1: When we arrived we began working at a home for orphans and vulnerable children. We did skits, gave testimonies, shared messages, played games, and worshipped with the teens there as they were on break from school. I know for a fact I learned more from the kids in those four days than we were able to teach them. I was blown away by their knowledge and understanding of God and who He is and learned that laughter and joy had no language barrier. 


Week 2:  We went to a village where we built a house for a woman and her family. Because I got food poisoning I had to stay back. I decided to pray for my team while I was sick and God spoke so clearly to me that day. I remember feeling so grateful I was able to hear from God for the first time in what felt like years. 


Week 3: It was an intense week with lots to do. Door to door in the morning, open air with testimonies, messages, worship, and skits in the afternoon, and Jesus Film in the evenings. This week I learned to surrender all expectations and I realized how much I have to rely on God and His strength and not my own. This week was incredibly difficult, but so much fruit came from it in so many ways. We saw people give their lives to Christ, we saw people healed, and we were able to give a woman a Bible who had been praying for one for 3 months.

And I was able to share my story on how God healed me and delivered me from mental illness, and the forgiveness I received from Him. It meant so much that I was able to share my story with people! My prayer and desire for my story to mean something outside of an AA meeting was answered that week. I was able to see God’s faithfulness in my own life not only in the past, but as it unfolded. 


Week 4: We were at our house due to sickness, so we worshipped and prayed as a team and painted out our prayers. God taught me what it meant to have discipline when it came to my faith, and what it meant to choose Him in every moment. I spent an entire day probably praying for my classmates and getting different verses for them. 


Week 5: I met a woman who was a believer, and her prayer request for us was for her to receive a burden to pray more and that blew me away. The peoples’ hunger and desire for a deeper relationship with God and their love for Jesus inspired me endlessly. We were able to see people come to Jesus, give them Bibles, and we were blessed enough to see three of them come to church that Sunday! I was, and still am, in awe of how God is moving in this village, and my whole team saw the church being a light that would spread into the rest of the village, the region, and into the nation.


Week 6:  We worked with a soccer ministry doing various tasks. We fertilized the soccer field, dug up some of the damaged stands, prayed over the boys and the field and the future of the ministry, taught English, shared devotionals, and played/watched soccer practice. Seeing the physical fruits of our labor and being able to work with a long term ministry focused on discipleship was such a blessing! But maybe the highlight of it all was being able to share my testimony on what was my 500th day sober. God’s timing is just really cool!


Week 7: I was asked to give the message and I spoke on God’s faithfulness. I talked about how faithful He was to my team during our struggles on outreach, and how faithful He is to keep the promises He has for the church. Being literally half way across the world teaching to, as well as learning from my brothers and sisters in Christ, is truly an experience I pray I never forget.


Week 8: It could not have been a better way to end outreach. We worked with the soccer ministry again, with my favorite part being making up little parables about different Biblical principles to share with the boys at practice. We also got to teach some of the students about the Father Heart of God!


I hope I never forget the friends I made or the experiences I had. I am so beyond grateful for every single bit of my time in Tanzania. I was so blessed by my team and every single person I met while I was there. God taught me so much and I grew so much. I am so much more confident in who God is and who I am in Him. I finally have a faith that is my own. It’s one based in truth, and it finally won’t falter when the Earth gives way. 


My time in DTS may be over but I don’t believe my time in YWAM is. And I know for a fact that no matter what happens God is not done with me yet. And He’s not done with you reading this, or my classmates, or Tanzania. He’s not done until every knee bows and confesses that He is Lord. And it is a deep honor that we get to be a part of that.


Written by Lauren Leaseburg