Hi!! This month on the blog is all about Family Legacy, the ministry we are giving back to from the sales of our World Tee that launches February 15. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19. We believe in spreading the gospel to the nations so we created this tee as a reminder to live out this verse daily. We want each of you to learn about this ministry and the amazing work they are doing in Zambia. This week, I am so excited to introduce you to my brother in law, Marshall Hickey. He is sharing his testimony about the work God did in his life through his trips to Zambia with Family Legacy. I know you will be blessed.
Lots of love,
Envision a ladder. Not one of many steel rungs, but one of people—like in high school tennis…where challenge matches determine one’s spot on the ladder. The better you perform—the higher on the ladder you climb. It’s a list from first to last. Imagine that kind of ladder.
Now recall that in high school tennis, the top of the ladder associates with other members at the top of the ladder. After all, they are on the same team—it’s called the varsity. And don’t forget that the ladder is posted front and center at practice each day. Everyone knows their place on the ladder.
But this ladder has nothing to do with tennis. It’s a ladder of Christians.
I tell you this because I used to walk into church and place myself somewhere on the ladder—always toward the bottom. Not good enough.
I’ll tell you a story. I grew up in Colorado and played ice hockey my whole life. I loved the sport, but I wasn’t a natural skater—kind of a problem when the sport is played on ice. To improve, I took agility lessons from the high school coach. He would reserve a section of the ice rink during public free-skate and set up an obstacle course of wooden platforms—“Jump over this platform, dive under that platform, then get up fast and jump over the next platform” he would instruct. Remember, this is free-skate open to the public—I can’t wait to see this kid try this.
And I’m trying my hardest to get through the course and I’m drenched in sweat and the coach tells me, “Marshall, you’re just not doing it right! You’ve got to bend more here, and explode more there, and absorb more here.” And I look at him and my adrenaline is pumping and thoughts no longer concerned with the spectators watching me…I just want to do the obstacle course correctly but I can’t. And he looks at me and says again, “Marshall, you’re just not doing it right.”
Not good enough.
And for the longest time, that’s the way I thought of the Christian faith – I’m just not doing it right. It seemed so burdensome. It was all of these rules. I need to do more of this and less of that but I just can’t manage it, so I’m out…
In college I took on the work hard, play hard persona. I yearned for the ability to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it and now I had the freedom to do so. But the irony in it all is that while I thought I was free, I very quickly became a slave to my pursuits. I wanted the freedom to excessively party—and I woke up one day and couldn’t stop partying excessively. I wanted the freedom to pursue a degree in petroleum engineering—and I woke up one day and couldn’t stop thinking about the money. In fact, it was never going to be enough. And the crazy part is that it looked like I had it together. You would have thought I had it together…but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Then in July 2013, we took a family trip to Zambia. We were going on a safari and then to help orphans—that’s about the extent I knew going in. So I got on the plane and upon arriving at Camp LIFE, I felt that same burden—the bottom of the ladder. I didn’t really want to be there. But I was there, and I had my group of ten orphans, and by the time the middle of the week rolled around I had this moment where the scales just fell from my eyes and I saw the truth.
You see…I went to Zambia with my family on a mission trip—and I didn’t feel worthy to go. But if there was ever going to be a time to say enough is enough that was it and I knew it. My most convicting moment was when I was looking at the children who have nothing to their name on earth—no house, no clothes, no elementary school—nothing. And I was just sitting there looking at the kids thinking to myself, it’s never going to be enough – the parties, the money, the friends, the family. I had been living in the future. Maybe when I get that next job, that promotion, that increase in pay—I will be satisfied. Maybe when I get that girlfriend, get married, have kids—then I’ll be at peace.
In Zambia everything became clear. I saw children who were starving and abused but had so much faith and love for God that they trusted Jesus with everything. I saw malnourished 9-year-olds living every moment knowing life on earth was not the end—it couldn’t be the end—it wouldn’t make any sense for it to be the end. I was dead in my transgressions—dead in the water—but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive in Christ.
I’ll finish by saying this: Once I went over to Zambia and learned from these kids that that Jesus came down from heaven and died so I am wiped clean, getting back on that airplane in Lusaka and flying back to America to resume my life—continuing to act like a fool—didn’t seem worth it. It’s not worth it—He’s better.
I used to believe the lie—thinking change…not for me—relapse…story of my life. But I’ve been on this trip three times—once as a single guy, once while dating my wife, and once married—all with my family. And if there’s one word that describes the three different experiences I’ve had over there—it’s change. We know it’s not just Zambia, but there’s something to be said about being halfway across the world, unplugged from social media, in fellowship with a hundred Americans, while serving kids who have nothing. That’s what this trip does—God does the rest.