Volume 5 Issue 3
On Discerning a Leading by Carolyn Keys
Sometimes leadings begin as small seeds, dropped along the way or planted to await the right time to sprout and grow to fullness. At times the seeds of leadings will be trampled over or pushed aside by other growths, rocks or other obstacles. In time, if the leading is strong and nurtured the seed will push through the soil to reach for the light and fruition.
A seed was planted when in 1960 I cared for the baby of a couple from Kenya while we were all at Olivet Nazarene College. Stimulated by learning of that culture, I went on to write a paper on the Mau Mau and the independence movement and followed the rise of Kenyatta to the first presidency of Kenya. My seed was nurtured by meeting many more people from Kenya and Uganda over the years. I wanted to work in East Africa but school bills, graduate school, marriage and children necessitated the seed waiting for the right time.
When the Friends Peace Teams Project was introduced to New York Yearly Meeting several years ago, I rejoiced as I saw a potential for work abroad with a Friends program. The seed continued to grow.
The seed began to pop up through the soil. In late 1995 I attended a talk by US Rep. Donald Payne at the local chapter of the UN Association on his trip to Rwanda on a Presidential Mission to investigate the aftermath of the massacres there. I was deeply impressed with the complexities of the political situation and the complicity of the West in allowing it to happen in full knowledge.
Later a conversation with Friend Jeremy Mott brought to my attention how many Friends were in Rwanda and Burundi and the imprisonment of the clerk of the Burundi Yearly Meeting. He drew to my attention the Quaker Life articles on the subject.
When I learned about an informational meeting in January, 1999, at Scarsdale Meeting (NY), I drove about 50 miles after work in the rain to learn about the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI). It was of great interest. I met Coordinator David Zarembka but alas the team positions were all filled by people with African experience or trained AVP facilitators. The seed remained under a rock but didnít die.
In February I had the opportunity of hearing Archbishop Tutu speak in Delaware about the transformative power at work in South Africa, bringing healing, though not complete yet, in his country. I was reminded of the tremendous example of South Africa to the world of Godís transformative power. Tutuís book, No Future Without Forgiveness, touched me deeply.
2000, while attending a Witness Coordinating Committee weekend at Powell
House (NYYMís conference/retreat center) I took the opportunity to speak
with Rosa Packard, our representative to the FPTP about my interest
in the AGLI. She pulled the announcement about the Burundi Trauma Healing
and Reconciliation Center (BTHARC) from her bag along with the e-mail
from the second team to go to the area, July, 1999.
Aha, the seed popped through the soil and reached for the Light. I read everything I could get my hands on, prayed, meditated, applied. During the process, I realized that the situation continued to be far from stable in the region. Through personal prayer and searching and a clearness process with my meeting, this leading (seed) bloomed. I was then selected as one of the two international members of the team.
As I investigated further, met with a clearness committee, applied, was chosen and have progressed toward leaving for Burundi on October 1, I have continued to search for guidance from the Spirit in preparation. Most of this I have done on my own, though the clearness/support committee has been available to meet as a group. Weíve had two lengthy meetings. The three individuals on it have all been very concerned and asking about each step, expressing their concern for my safety and well being. Many other Friends have been available also. At New York Yearly Meeting in July, I felt a tremendous sense of power through the good wishes and prayers from so many Friends.
Throughout the process, the continued support I have received from Friends, family and coworkers has given me strength to move forward. Though the steps of giving up my home (apartment) and comforts to live in a still dangerous area is awesome and scary, the prospect of being used by the Spirit to live out my testimonies is reassuring. When Iím troubled by some aspect of the process, a song seems to come from deep inside me (from 30-40 years ago) to bring comfort. Examples are God Will Take Care of You and Silently Now I Wait for Thee, Take My Hands and Let Them Be, If Each One Lit Just One Little Candle. The Spirit reassures me even as I write that this is a leading from deep inside myself. Now I see the seeds planted so many years ago coming to blossom. I pray that the BTHARC will be an Instrument for Peace and that Godís transformative power will be experienced by many whose lives we touch. One of my personal goals is to help Friends and others in Burundi be in touch with their creative powers, to share joy in dance and again be able to have fun. I believe these are part of the healing process. It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain.