Sunday, September 4, 2011

Learning to Give Thanks at the Waters of Marah {Part 1}

{by Katrina Rebsch}
“My journey to a new land, a new people, and a new ministry is underway!  As I write this, we are somewhere over the ocean with Santa Cruz as our destination, to be reached in approximately six hours, and Cochabamba soon after that.
As I venture into the unknown, I am grateful to know at least one thing quite clearly: this journey is the will of God and He is with me!  What joy there is in knowing this truth.  I am comforted to know that it shall sustain me during the hard moments and difficult days.”
So reads the first entry in my new journal with the blue butterfly gracing its cover.  It is dated June 30.  Two months have now passed since I penned those words at 30,000 feet above the earth.  Two months more full of those “hard moments and difficult days” than I ever could have imagined as I ventured forth to live a dream. 

When God first touched my heart over the plight of the orphan, the poor, the oppressed, and the abandoned, I was sitting in the upstairs study of Eric and Leslie Ludy’s home, participating in a weekend girls’ conference.  The inspiring messages we heard were rich with God’s Word and stirred me to the very depths of my soul.  I remember watching video clips of precious children all over the world who were being exploited, sold into slavery, abandoned to the streets. 143 million of them were orphans.  All of them were in need of hope, love, the redemptive power of the Gospel. 

The challenge was issued.  Was I willing to go to them?  To be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to the least of these who shared my world?  Could I give up comforts and conveniences to meet the needs of those who otherwise would be scrounging in the dumpsters, sleeping in the sewers, and sniffing glue in order to survive?  I said yes.

Missionary service was not a new concept.  I had first surrendered to the idea when I was 16, and since that time, had followed God’s leading both to foreign countries as well destinations in my own homeland where doors of ministry had been opened.  Missions conferences at church and missionary biographies did much to shape my thinking, giving me a heart for the world and a desire to devote my life to knowing Christ and making Him known.

After hearing about God’s heart for the fatherless and the very real orphan crisis in our world, after being presented with the challenge to demonstrate “true and undefiled religion” according to James 1:27, I quietly crept out of the Ludy’s upstairs study during a time of personal prayer and reflection and made for the porch swing.  It was nighttime.  The crickets chirped and the fresh mountain air seemed heavy with the perfume of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  As I rocked back and forth on the swing, I penned my renewed devotion to the “poured out life.”  How could I not give everything I had and was to the service of the One who had given everything for me?

That weekend proved to be another milestone in my adventure with Jesus.  I returned home to the busyness of life; correspondence Bible college, girls’ discipleship ministries, piano lessons, volunteer work at a crisis pregnancy center, service at home and church.  But I couldn’t forget about the 143 million orphans and abandoned children that lived out there somewhere, sharing my world and waiting for a Christ-follower to come rescue them...  In my spare time, I researched ministries on the internet that reached out to such children.  Such a huge, world-wide to help?  Where to serve?  What to do?

A couple of years passed.  I worked on staff at the pregnancy center, saved money, finished my degree, and attended a one-year missionary language school to learn Spanish, continually striving to know Christ and make Him known along the way, to encourage and disciple young women in the Lord - a real passion - and all the while wondering what the future held and when another passion would be realized: the plight of the orphan.

Then, through a series of events that can only be described as the working of God, a door was opened, and on June 30, I departed the United States for a six-month sojourn in the land of Bolivia to live and work at a children’s home ministry for former street kids and abandoned babies.

Within three days time, however, the dream experience I had so looked forward to living seemed to crumble under the weight of disillusionment, discouragement, and despondency.  I was left holding the pieces and feeling completely overwhelmed.  Lack of sanitation, safety concerns, unruly children, homesickness, disorder, chaos, filth, hardships... Despite my resolutions not to have any expectations, things were so different than what I had expected!

I had no joy, no hope, no desire to remain. 

By nature, I am not a quitter.  I thrive on stepping up to challenges and seeing them through to a victorious end.  For the first time, however, I found myself wanting to quit immediately.  I felt certain I was the wrong person for the job, that this kind of ministry was not for me, that God should find somebody else for the work and send me on the next plane back to America.  After all, I hadn’t signed up for all this!  I had signed up for... the poured out life.


  1. Wow...this is a touching post and speaks volumes, without saying too much, about the challenges to be overcome in the field for Christ. I cannot wait to read the next installment.

    I hope the next four months will have many bright spots and your strength will be rewarded. Prayer warriors....unite around Katrina and lift her up in prayer!

  2. Katrina,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It really encouraged me and I cant wait to see what happens next!