Hi! My name is Samara Wright. I am honored to share my journey with Young Life Africa/Middle East. I grew up actively involved in Young Life in my area of Pinehurst, North Carolina. In middle school I fell in love with all that I knew Young Life to be — I loved the community and relationships I had because of it, and I loved how much fun you could have while loving and learning about Jesus. Growing up I also remember having vivid dreams of myself in Africa and was anxious and expectant for when it would be my time to go. Last summer I traveled to Tanzania, Africa for my first time on a Young Life Expeditions Trip and fell in love with every inch that I was exposed to while there. I was left anxious and expectant all over again for when the Father would send me back. I immediately assumed that it would be after I finished university, had more to offer, and had a better idea of what exactly I was going to do with my life. However, back in November the Father began revealing to me that that was not actually His plan. In less than one week, the Father spoke to me that I was supposed to go back to Africa this summer and I basically had my whole trip paid for. Although my summer looked way different than I thought it was going to back in November, it was incomparable to any plans I could have made on my own.
For the first six weeks of my trip back to Tanzania this summer, I worked at a baby-home in Mwanza, a city on the shore of Lake Victoria. Not only was I wrecked by the love and stories within the perimeter of the home in which I was working, but I was wrecked by the culture that I was completely immersed in each day. I felt the Father almost tangibly building on top of what He had taught and revealed to me during my Expeditions trip the summer before. I had time to ask the Father hard questions like “Why is it that I love this culture and country so much?” and “Why is it that I’m here again so soon?” and learned what it truly meant and felt like to quiet myself and wait on the Lord. The Father’s presence was unshakable and taught me something new every single day.
After leaving the baby-home, I traveled to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania where I would be for the majority of my last two weeks in Tanzania. The Larmey family, who I had met while I served on work crew at Crooked Creek Ranch three summers before, invited me to come, work, and see alongside them. So, I was at the Young Life Africa and Middle East retreat as a pair of extra hands and probably knew the least about Young Life Africa/Middle East than anyone there.
From the moment the retreat began to the moment it ended, I loved how full of connection it was in the most natural way. Americans connecting with Africans. Africans with Africans. Americans with Americans. So many different languages, so many different paths that brought us all to the same place, barriers that should have been but simply were not.
There was so much lingering around the dinner table. So many tears and laughs that magnified the Father’s heart for us and reminded us what life is truly about. I loved being reminded of the incredible power of our Father who is orchestrating both the seen and the unseen, in Africa and in every continent.
At the retreat, I was completely blown away by the statistics of Young Life Africa and the Middle East. Twenty-six countries. Over 837,000 reached kids, which is a rapidly increasing number. The fact that more kids went to Young Life camp in Africa than in the States last year. I loved seeing and hearing firsthand how creative and innovative the Africa and Middle East staff and volunteers are. I witnessed and heard testimony of boldness like I’ve never known before. I learned what it truly means when David says in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life…” I witnessed that sometimes the path is narrow and sometimes it’s wide. Sometimes it is hidden and sometimes it’s right in front of our eyes. Sometimes the path leads us up the mountain and sometimes we get to walk around it. The Father aches to make it known to us, we just must be passionate and dedicated enough to seek it out. Young Life Africa and Middle East leaders and staff never cease to seek the Father’s presence so that they may learn the path of their life. These leaders will stop at nothing.
When I picture the Father working in Africa I see a massive wave absolutely engulfing the land in the gentlest yet fiercest way, unlike anything the continent has seen before. The Young Life Africa and Middle East leaders and staff are thorough in their ministry and the wave is to bless not only their countries, but also their own devotion. Their love for the Father is deep, rooted, and so personal. Every part of their lives are dedicated to finding the way He has prepared for them. I see the Father’s wave not missing any area or any tribe. His powerful yet gentle love is on the way to wreck every person and every story with the Young Life Africa and Middle East leaders and staff as His vessels.
If you’re somebody who reads this is and is interested in taking a trip with Young Life Africa and the Middle East, I would encourage it with every part of me. Go with open eyes, open ears, and a malleable heart. Go with a mindset that you are most likely not going to change the world while you’re there, but that maybe the Father wants to let it change you. Maybe He wants to bring you into some of the deepest parts of His heart and invite you to become a part of His massive wave over the continent of Africa. His presence is thick and His heart for Africa and the Middle East is something special. It’s completely changed me. Let it change you.