Beautiful, passionate souls.... - by Brooke Harner, 2017 Neema Trip Team Member

While sitting in the back seat of a van along the red dirt path we have dreamed of for months, anxious butterflies danced in my stomach with uncertainty.

I did not know what to expect and was full of the panic by my introverted nature. In the last few minutes of the drive I grew in anticipation as the humidity met my auburn curls and the red dirt was kicked up from the tires.

My eyes blinked back tears the second my feet met the ground upon arrival. Beautiful and passionate souls met us immediately with singing, dancing and rejoicing. Arms wrapped around me, hands held mine and a joyful noise was lifted. My heart, soul and mind was instantaneously overcome. I have a very anxious nature that really struggles to view myself through the lens of God’s word. I always tend to see myself as the world would and not in the image of God. Never would I voluntarily dance in a new setting, or sing aloud and jump, clap and dance during worship. Immediately, my feet joined theirs, my voice sang and my bones rejoiced along side them glorifying our Heavenly Father.

This second was the moment that I realized that these young women see us in God’s image. No judgment, no criticalness, but only love. There is no judgement on our dancing, no judgement when singing is not our forte, but only true and pure worship of Christ. I found myself free. For the first time in a new setting I wasn’t looking around me to see who was watching me dance or worrying if I looked ridiculous. For the first time I sang on my own to teach a few girls Amazing Grace. For the first time I was able to worship without feeling anxious about what others thought of me.

Just a few moments with these incredible young women took fear and anxiety and turned it into joy, free and vulnerability. Within the first moments, these young women broke down a wall around my heart that only allows me to view myself through the lens of the world. For the first time, I understood what it is like to live in the image of God without fear.

Brooke Harner
Neema Team Trip 2017