In Your Own Words: Amanda Andrews
Amanda Andrews is team leader for the Mission Discovery team that served with us this month. This is her seventh year with us, and first year as team leader. She is a certified physical therapist, and has developed many relationships in Bulembu through her time at the clinic treating children, caregivers, and staff. We sat with her to get to know her story better and share what God is doing in her life.
What is Mission Discovery, and how did you get involved with them?
We are an independent nonprofit missions organization in Nashville, Tennessee, that creates opportunities for groups and individuals to go on short-term mission trips to different countries around the world. I heard of Mission Discovery ten years ago from an older patient of mine when I was practicing PT in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where the MD offices are. It was such a God-ordained encounter because she became one of my most beloved patients! She was interested in me and my interests, and I mentioned my desire to go to Africa on missions. It turns out her son-in-law was the Vice President of Mission Discovery! She invited me to dinner, I heard about the organization, and was captivated by what it was about. And so Bulembu was their scheduled trip to Africa, and I came in 2013 for the first time, thinking it would be my only time–but seven years later, here I am!
So what is it about Bulembu that caught your interest when you came?
I feel like we have so many expectations coming in, and God always surprises us. I didn’t know what to expect coming here that first time, but there was something about this place where I felt the presence of God in a way that is different from how we feel it at home. Now, it’s not to say that God is less present at home than he is here, but maybe the level of distractions and busyness sidetrack us more back home. So the presence of God coupled with the immediate stories of redemption in the kids’ lives and the radical obedience of missionaries–it’s very difficult not to feel the presence of God with all these realities coming together in the same place. And it’s in his presence that he speaks, and where we can hear him.
For me, it was the missionaries’ stories of radical obedience to a calling that drew me and brought me back. I think it sparked a longing to live into a story of stepping out in faith in what God was calling me to do. Hearing stories for level 10-out-of-10 type of obedience draws me in to say, “I want what they have.” But it’s not that simple, because God immediately asks me, “Are you willing to sacrifice something I am asking you to sacrifice?”
If this was your last time coming to Bulembu, what has stood out to you about redemption over the last seven years?
Every year I come, God always has something he wants to show me, to remind me that he is in control of my life. He is a sovereign God and I can trust him; he will provide when the time comes. When you experience redemption in someone else’s story, it reminds you of it in your own. I’m reminded that my identity is in Christ, and also the ways that he redeems so many other relationships in my life, like family, friends, or people at work. As God reminds me of how he’s redeeming me, it gives me hope in how redemption can come in other areas, even if it isn’t clear right now.
What have you brought to Bulembu in the last seven years that only Amanda can bring?
A word that comes to mind is healing. I think in physical therapy I have been a part of helping with physical healing in some people which is deeply rewarding for me. And I also think about the relationships I’ve built with team members where I have been able to use my experiences to share encouragement that God does bring healing in different ways. So I’ve seen how God’s redemption in my story has helped in the healing process of other people.