Called to serve: The struggle is real

I don’t know about my other CURE U friends, so I’ll speak for myself when I say that sometimes it’s really, really hard to feel like I’m making an impact as a college student.

When I returned to the States, I was legitimately miserable. I desperately missed the scorching heat of Malawi: the blazing sun reflecting off Lake Malawi like a kaleidoscope in my hazel eyes, the soft grains of sand clinging perpetually to my legs, and little sticky fingers woven in between mine trying to rub the white off my skin to see if it was real. Oh, how I deeply, deeply hated college and hated myself. I hated myself for being a privileged English speaker with a thousand-million opportunities, a Westerner who had been so blind to the suffering in the world for 19 years and all the injustice my ancestors and my country perpetuated against those of other skin colors, countries, ethnicities, classes, and religions. I loathed myself and despised college. I felt like I had been pulled away from my true purpose by an unnecessary need. I felt like I was dwelling in the pool of my unfair wealth rather than serving. I swore that Jesus would never be able to use me back in Pennsylvania at Messiah College because I swore He wasn’t there.

I was infuriated because I had seen people die. I had seen starving children digging through piles of trash. I had lived with girls who were prostituted by their own family. I had the choice to leave and come home, and completely disengage from doing what I knew the Lord had called me to do. I felt like I was copping out of service, copping out of loving like Jesus, copping out of ministry, and copping out of building relationships to fulfill the demands of a culture I no longer called home. I hated the States, I hated college, and most of all, I hated myself. Depression and anxiety consumed me like a raging fire. Whatever altruism life bore towards me before then seemed to vanish like vapor in the wind.

Looking back now, a few years older and—in my own opinion—a small bit wiser, I needed to experience that time of suffering in order to grow. But that’s a different story.

 

This little boy is named Mikey. When I was living in the Philippines, he was abandoned on our ministry's doorstep, small and ill. We mothered him, and my family and I even tried to adopt him. Missing him caused a deep ache and misery in my heart that did not make my initial experience at college easy.

This little boy is named Mikey. When I was living in the Philippines, he was abandoned on our ministry’s doorstep: small and ill. We mothered him, and my family and I even tried to adopt him. Missing him caused a deep ache and misery in my heart that did not make my initial experience at college easy.

I do not intend to make a priori assumptions about each of you, but I know my “useless” feeling during my college years is not an uncommon one. When you are closed inside the campus walls of institutional education, it can be freeing—but so freeing you don’t know what to do with it. You don’t know where to start. You don’t know how to help. You feel useless because you’re not actually out in the world bringing physical healing, praying for people, and holding them in your arms. I believed I wasn’t a part of that healing, and I thought I was doing something wrong.

In retrospect, this was a rather selfish and parochial view of myself: not only (in my misery) was I wasting time I could have been serving, but I was overlooking two key things:

  1. Jesus served where He was, which is something I was called to do for such a time as this, and
  2. you don’t always need to “go” in order to be a blessing.

There are two sides to ministry (in simplistic terms) and we often forget that one of those includes the people who stay at home, love their neighbors, minister holistically to the place where people are going, pray for other countries and peoples, and do fundraisers.

I want to encourage each of you that, even though you may not be out in the field laying your hands on people, your prayers are still heard. Your efforts are felt and are equally as important to serving the kingdom of God. It is you choosing to serve where you are that enables others filled with Jesus’ spirit to go and heal kids.

You cannot possibly understand the impact CURE U chapters are having on other places in the world or on those around you. It is you choosing to serve where you are that enables the Spirit to heal those people, too.

You may not ever see the fruit of your service, but it’s there. Trust that it is. God is more than enough for each and every one of us.

Two children that the CURE U team to the Philippines met during summer 2016.

Two children the CURE U team to the Philippines met during summer 2016.

 


Photo of the Caitlinn Betteridge

About the Author:

Caitlinn spent the fall of 2016 as the CURE U intern at CURE International. After high school, Caitlinn took a gap year where she lived in Nicaragua, the Philippines and Malawi, where she felt the Lord inspire her to pursue a dual major in Journalism and Cross-Cultural Ministries. Come December, Caitlinn and her husband Luke will be moving to Seattle, Washington, where she will be pursuing a Master's in Reconciliation and International Studies from Seattle Pacific Seminary (and hopefully a PhD shortly after that!) Caitlinn and Luke someday hope to work with refugees, war-torn populations, and women's empowerment. Caitlinn loves Star Wars, her pet mice Chia and Flax, mustard yellow, bare feet, and fuzzy blankets.

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