My comment is primarily directed toward the last paragraph of Gary’s letter.
My oldest daughter is 20. When she was 16 she went on an AIM trip to Romania. Because of that “adventure” God captured her heart for missions. Later she joined Aaron and Michelle Lawson in Mexico for 6 months. Michelle was her group’s leader in Romania. Currently she resides in Guatemala City. She earns a small salary working for a US based adoptionrelief organization. Her passion, however, is ministry. Most of her free time is spent among the most poor and hopeless in the most dangerous parts of the city. During the summer she leads short-term mission teams in such places. She has been robbed at gun point. She has seen converted gang members brutally killed for leaving the gang.
Do American young adults understand “the price” spoken of in Gary’s letter? I have no idea of what the statistics are but some realize what “the price” is. I think the realization of “the price” is a process. I think we would agree that the first payment is surrender to the agenda of another. For my daughter abandoning the empty promises of North American culture was part of the process. At some point she understood that “the price” may very well include her life. Be encouraged Gary, some will “get it.”
One last thing. It seems to me that God doesn’t “need” you or your team in Africa. He doesn’t “need” us but it pleases him to use us as he delivers his kingdom to the world. I’ve heard tales of wonder of what God is doing in the slums of Guatemala City. I’m certain your stories of God’s work in Africa are equally captivating. I don’t think (my opinion) that what God accomplishes through us is really the most important thing. I think God uses us wherever he plants us not because he needs us somewhere. I believe God uses us (as he accomplishes his agenda) because it changes us into people who look like Jesus. God will accomplish great things in Africa through you and the team but realize that he will also accomplish a great work in you! Be relieved Gary, nothing depends on you.