After 21-year-old Chelsey Morris spent six months with Experience Mission’s Immersion program, living in unique communities in New Mexico, South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho, she returned to her rural Texas town with a whole new set of values that align more with God’s kingdom than with her native culture.
Chelsey explains: “Once we realized how both our culture and the culture of Southern Africa are flawed and imperfect, we were given hope for reconciliation through the concept of a kingdom mentality. This Biblical worldview essentially says that America’s views are broken, and Southern Africa’s views are broken. In order to see things as they truly are, we have to find the radical tension that comes in the middle of the two mindsets. We have to view both cultures from the Biblical perspective; that way, we are seeking what God wants, not what either culture tells us to want.“
During training and debriefings in Southern Africa, Chelsey and her seven other team members soaked up plenty of “Hein-isms” or “Hein-sights,” they called them, from Hein van Wyk who serves both as the DNA’s regional representative in Southern Africa through Hope for Africa and as Experience Mission’s African representative.
“You can count the seeds in a mango, but you cannot count the mangos in a seed,” Chelsey recalls. “If the seed falls along the way, it will perish. Only when the seed is broken will it bear much fruit.”
“Before the trip,” Chelsey says, “the kingdom of God was a far-off and little-understood concept for me. I knew it was something I was supposed to seek, as I’ve been told by Matthew 6:33 all my life. Even growing up in Church, I couldn’t have explained what constitutes the kingdom. It wasn’t until our training in New Mexico and South Africa that we began to ask questions–to seek out answers about what God’s kingdom is. My answers may not be theologically researched or extensively studied, but the simplest way I can explain it is this:
“The kingdom is what God is busy doing here on Earth and will be busy doing for eternity. It’s his followers living radically for him, seeking his will and desires above all else. Wherever and however the body of believers is busy about this work is and will be God’s kingdom, both here and now, and later and forever in our eternal dwelling with him. The kingdom is here, and it is also coming.”
Chelsey studied first-hand extreme poverty and why it persists. She developed a more solid grasp of God’s plans for his Church, saying with conviction in her excellent blog post: “We can’t keep planting churches across the world or down the street if we pack up our tools and forget to teach the community what ‘Church’ means; and about the God who is to be forever worshipped and praised both inside the Church and beyond the plastered walls. We have to show them who the Church is and why we praise our Savior. We can’t go to every nation but forget to make disciples. We have to build relationships based on dignity and respect that goes both ways.
“We can’t keep telling people about Jesus while forgetting to be like Him.”
Now, Chelsey looks toward the future and is discerning what to do next, expecting to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University. Please pray for her as she pursues God’s heart and his next steps for her.
“I want to fully immerse in God’s presence,” Chelsey says in her blog. “I want to be so filled up with his love that my picture of God doesn’t ever fit back into the tiny, little box I had him in for so many years. I want my life to be messy, uncomfortable, and sometimes scary, as long as I am sprinting after him with everything that I have–no looking back. I want to be intentional with every conversation, looking for new ways to show love in the unlikeliest of places. I want to go where the outcast and unseen by society sit in brokenness–waiting for redemption, waiting for Jesus. I don’t want the American dream; I want God’s kingdom.”