Last month, our Mobilize Medical team ventured to Zanzibar, Tanzania to serve. Thank you for being a part of sending them through your prayers and gifts!
Serving on short-term mission trips in another nation can be an incredible blessing to those we serve and to those who volunteer in service. Often, the experience is full of adventure in a new culture and character-building challenges that leave a trip participant forever changed by the Lord’s work in their lives.
Sometimes, though, even the most thorough steps of planning can’t fully help a team anticipate the flexibility and pivots necessary while abroad.
But the Lord is faithful to provide, to move, and to do His work to guide.
Hear firsthand reflections from Mobilize’s director, Kelly Ramsland, upon return from our recent trip that required such flexibility and proved to see the Lord faithful.
Reflections from Zanzibar
“Going into a trip, the team always has some sort of expectations. I ask them to answer this question, “After the trip you would say, ‘This was a good trip if _______'”, and I ask them to fill in the blank.
This trip nobody answered, “This would be a good trip if Hamas declares a Global Day of Jihad while we are in a 99% Mu$lim nation.”
Yet that is exactly what happened.
The week started out with lots of excitement for the days of clinic ahead. We saw many familiar faces and friends from last year. People whose lives were impacted last year had come back to meet with us again.
I was so excited to see a friend who is a Mu$lim leader, he confirmed last year’s decision that he wants to follow Jesus, he is hungry to know Him more. As we sat together, he read through the Bible we gave him. He came to see us each day we were there, hungry for more discussion of Jesus.
Our friend the witch doctor also gave his life to Jesus last year and returned to see us as well… The third day we saw him, he brought 6 family members with him to hear about the Jesus he is trying to follow. On the fourth day he brought his wife and daughter with him; when you find truth you want your loved ones to also see it, find it, and be transformed by it. Pray for our friend and his family.
Our team had many intense experiences with patients experiencing things from demon possession to physical and sexual abuse. Our hearts were breaking everyday…
Time to Pivot
Mid week, [we received] an article featuring the Hamas founder and ex-leader calling to apply Jihad on Friday, October 13th…
Previously, on the first day of clinic, [local photographers and videographers spent several hours touring the clinic,] talking with us and interviewing us. It is considered a huge blessing for a community to have and host a large team like ours, so the media publicizes it. Normally, this blesses the church as it enhances their relationship and they find favor with the government.
Public exposure of DW and the Church through the press and media does not typically cause concern; it is common. However, once [Mu$lims were publicly called to] holy war, we were then concerned about the potential risk after such high exposure as we were serving in a predominantly Mu$lim nation…
We prayed for wisdom and continued to seek counsel from our local hosts and some trusted resources at home.
All confirmed the risk was real and should not be ignored. Late into the night we worked to come up with an exit strategy that would not cost the team 10’s of thousands of dollars… However, there were not enough seats on the available flights. The ministry ship operated by Operation Mobilization, the Logos Hope, was gracious enough to open their doors and offer us refuge for several days as the potential risk came and went… It also provided shelter and supplies if something catastrophic did happen. Furthermore, it allowed us to wait it out together in safety.
But God did so much more, as He always does! He moved in ways we could not have dreamt.
With much prayer we set out to take the team to the ship. The journey to the ship was rough from packing up clinic to leaving without saying goodbye to our partners and patients. We felt much grief as the relationships we develop with patients and partners are sweet. In addition, by this time in clinic, we see so much momentum with the community opening their hearts to the Gospel. Disappointment was heavy as we did not know if we would be able to return to the island prior to leaving back to the USA…
Team disappointment was not alone; fear was right on its tail. The looming threat of being a target for Jihad was enormous. The locals all knew and confirmed; danger was high and we had already had a lot of exposure… Fear brings out a lot of emotions, it is especially hard when we feel somewhat limited in what we can do…
Once we arrived to the Logos Hope we were greeted by [our friends aboard], Andy and Melody, sweet relief and some excitement of what the ship would hold for us with this twist of plans… Logos Hope was almost at capacity, but offered us every spare bed they had! God bless them, we are so grateful. God always takes care of His children.
When we were on the ship we had some great conversations with students and workers from many different nations. We had the chance to hear their stories and offer encouragement to them as they are on their journey… We felt right at home… During our time on ship many of our team attended the evening lectures offered by All Nations, a great way to learn from professionals who have a heart for missions.
As Friday came and went, the aftermath of the day of Jihad was not catastrophic, praise the Lord… The question was now, “What is next?”
Overnight on Friday I worked on changing the teams tickets… Some tickets could not be changed, this ended up being of the Lord! However, many were disappointed to not be going back to the island, as you can imagine. We had enough people who had to fly out of Zanzibar that we were able to get all the medications and suitcases repacked and ready for travel home. We had just enough of us that we escaped airline baggage fees for the medication bags.
On the ship on Saturday, some of our young people had the opportunity to spend time at the beach with some crew members, a fun time to hang out and make new friends. There was bookstore shopping, Coffee Club hang outs, games, fellowship and an All Nations lecture.
Both groups were able to attend church on Sunday. Some worshipping on the ship with a global body of believers, some in Zanzibar with partners and friends. Dennis, a DW team member, gave the message that Sunday in Zanzibar. The community was happy to see at least some of us and we were excited to be able to see them, worship with them and say a proper good-bye.
Our expectations are just that, OUR expectations. But God in His divine way always has a plan that trumps our expectations. His plan often looks different than ours.
So as we plan, hope, and dream, let us remember that God who has called us to it, will see us through it. He always does.”
– Kelly Ramsland, Director of Mobilize Medical
Developing Workers exists to equip leaders locally and globally for the work of discipleship.
Mobilize Medical is the arm of DW that aims to reach the lost with the Gospel by being a bridge between the communities we serve and the local church.
We show God’s love by meeting the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of every person that comes through our clinic. Medicine is just a tool. Meeting people at their felt needs opens their hearts to the truth of the Gospel, and lives are changed.
This work is both fueled and funded by friends of our ministry.
Thanks to our community of partners like you, all financial contributions quickly transform into pastoral training, service opportunities, coaching and mentorship, special projects in underserved communities, and impactful resources that all bring us one step closer to ending discipleship poverty.
We’re so grateful for you!