“The Devil is in the details,” is a phrase people like to throw around. But, a trip to Bangladesh earlier this month made me realize that a phrase we should throw around more often is, “God is in the details.” When a speaking opportunity arose for me in Bangladesh, I had felt a strong sense from the Lord to say yes.
But I had some concerns. First, how could I fund it? Since the “asking” school could only afford to take care of my in-country expenses, I would have to fund the almost two-days each way, seven-leg, round-trip flight myself. Ouch! Expensive!
Then, I was a little concerned about flying alone as a woman to a place where I had never been before. Solo travel, for such a long trip, with so many connections was daunting.
Pray, pray, pray. I had no idea how this would work, but God was already working out the details.
Weeks after my “Yes!” I attended an Awana board meeting. I mentioned Bangladesh. “Is there anything I could do for Awana while I’m there?” Brian Rhodes, who oversees this ministry’s international arm, stepped up immediately. “Valerie, we are happy to help you as a member of our Board of Directors with that trip. We have 350 clubs in Bangladesh. It is a strategic and growing country for us. We’d love for you to experience it.”
I had never mentioned my need to him.
“Oh, that would be so wonderful!” My heart leapt for two reasons. Not only would Awana help with this trip, but after nearly four years as a board member, hearing about our exploding growth internationally (Awana reaches almost 3,000,000 children weekly in 110 countries . . . second only to the Catholic Church) now I would see this fun, scripture-packed approach to reaching children globally myself. This had been a longing of mine for quite some time.
Then, when I was still feeling amazed at how God works, I received a text from Brian across the boardroom table. “Do you think my wife, Sandee, could go with you? And maybe we should send John Walton, our media man, to go along and take pictures.”
Yes! I would love for her to come! Sandee is a part of Awana’s international team and a seasoned traveler. I was thrilled. But a photographer? Well, OK . . . I thought, but with reluctance. Vanity showed her pretty little head. Rats! I have never had a good hair day in international, hot, and humid conditions. Ever. I cringed thinking that all that frizz would be recorded.
But anticipating frizz hair or not, I was thrilled.
From my prayers, to God’s heart, to Brian Rhodes mouth!
But I had one last concern. It seems almost too silly to mention, but there was a clothing issue. Even though it would be close to 100 degrees, Bangladeshi women dress extremely modestly. I would not need to wear a scarf, but arms and ankles needed covering. Where would I find light-weight, modest-enough clothing? I was especially concerned about what I could speak in for the festive graduation ceremonies.
“Val? It’s Karen.” My sister was on the phone. “Do you need clothes for your trip? I have some things I think you could use.”
I hopped in my car and in no time was shopping in her closet. There were several bright-colored long tops she had bought on trips to India. Perfect! But, best of all, there was a beautiful elaborately-embroidered black and silver long top and pants she had worn for her son’s wedding.
“Are you sure?” I asked, “You wore this for Jeremy’s wedding. Isn’t it too precious to loan me?”
“No. Take it. And hem it if you need it shorter.”
I felt overwhelmingly blessed, like a child unwrapping an unending pile of brightly-wrapped Christmas presents. But my sister wasn’t done. She pulled out the piece de resistance . . . a bag of jewelry with large flashy earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Every piece was Bengladeshi style!
The minutest of details were coming together. But beyond all of the funding and clothing and aloneness issues being solved, something else was happening. I had a strong sense of God’s presence washing over me and affirming my journey. He was with me. God was going to be in Bangladesh with me. I could relax and enjoy the trip.
So . . . what if I caused some kind of international incident? Like exposing an ankle or something? God would be with me!
What if my luggage was lost, or my passport stolen, or my credit card breached? God would be with me!
What if my plane went down never to be found again? God would be with me!
It has been said we should never doubt in the dark what God has shown us in the light.
I would need to remember that long before Bangladesh. I would need to practice God’s presence on the very first leg of my international flight . . . Washington Dulles to Dubai. He was with me, even though I doubted it at the time.