“Hujambo Everyone! Hello! My name is Ali and I am involved in the community of New Life Church.
I am here this morning to share some of the really crazy things God has done in my life over the last year. As a quick background for you… I got a degree in interior design from Western Michigan in 02. I moved to Ann Arbor 7 years ago for a design job and over time became miserable in the industry dealing with egos and politics. I realized that before long I would wake up one day and be 60 and feel like I had wasted my entire adult life doing something that made me so incredibly unhappy.
It was at that point in my life that I began a journey to understand why God made me with design talents and how those gifts could be used for His Kingdom. Simultaneously my passion for the people of Africa grew and two years ago I went on a trip to Kenya with a small New Life team. It was there that I was introduced to an organization called Amani ya Juu. It was there that I saw for the first time how God could use my design skills in a place he had given me a heart for. Some of you may have heard of Amani as we’ve since hosted many sales to support the refugee women working there.
But what I learned on that trip and about Amani was SO much bigger than a sale that you see here. It is about God changing the lives of these women, and now mine too. My eyes were opened to a dream of a fuller life serving God.
When I got back from the trip I was convinced I needed to keep Amani and the people of Africa in my life. However, I wasn’t sure how that could look with my intense design job. I finally got to the point last year where I realized I just couldn’t do both. So I started to pray and wrestle through these passions with God to see His will for my future.
Here’s an example of one of our wrestling matches:
ME: So God, that Amani place, I can’t stop thinking about how I would LOVE to spend my life serving these women. But it seems impossible. I feel there is no way out of my current situation. I mean, it’s not like I can quit my job and move to Africa!?! That’s crazy talk.
ME: Okay, well, it sounds ridiculous but it also sounds kind of perfect. But seriously, my family would FLIP out…! I can’t do that to them!
ME: Okay, really, I have a mortgage to pay, and a car payment… How can I quit my job?
ME: Umm… for real, have you not heard we are in a recession?! Hahaha, go on staff?! How would I ever raise support in this economy?
ME: God, You say You’ll meet all of my needs. I believe you. I want to believe you more.
ME: In John 10:10 it says you came to give me life, life to the FULL. Really? ‘cause my life feels far from full. That really includes me? You would really fulfill my dreams for you?
ME: What do I do God? What do I do…?
…and in the calm of a kayak He quieted me and whispered this one word to me, “go.”
You see, during my first trip to Africa, I learned something life-changing from the Austin family and I heard their stories about their Kenyan adoption. I remember hearing them say, “If God does not come through, we are in trouble. There is no other option. He HAS to come through!” I was instantly convicted and in awe of their trust and faith and realized that I had never lived that way. I had never made myself that vulnerable with God. I had been choosing to live a life that was safe, mundane, and ultimately unfulfilling.
So in September of 09 I purchase plane tickets to go to Kenya for the month of January. I then gave my resignation notice at the design firm a few weeks later. There was no turning back!
I finished my time at the firm in December and I boarded that plane on January 5th this year. I spent the rest of the month of January living with the Austins, pursuing my dream to work with Amani ya Juu in Nairobi. My time there was incredible and no doubt, perfect in its timing. I was able to spend the month working with the executive director of Amani, learning their organization and designing as well. It was confirmed in my heart that God does want me there and there is a need for my design talents to be used in Nairobi.
So to wrap up, where am I now? I have just been accepted to be on GCM staff to do international missions. I am scheduled to leave next week for staff training and then I will be raising support intensely. I have a BIG dream to raise enough support to be able to go back to Amani THIS June because that is when they will be designing the 2011 product line. Because my skill set is so specific, I feel like it is the best time for me to go to be influential in creating products that Westerners will buy. After that I will come back home to finish my support-raising, which will allow me to go to Nairobi for a longer term to continue serving these women.
I am excited guys! I am excited to design in Nairobi and to live life with these women. And I am excited to continue to connect you guys as well. I dream to bring you guys, to bring YOUR talents, to Kenya, so that you can be envisioned to a bigger picture of God. To ignite a passion that might be brewing in your hearts. I am excited to watch God continue to move in his might and impossible ways!
…and that is a slice of my life!”