A blog from the Director of Removing Dross Ministries, Scott Wright:
As many of you know I was invited to go on a humanitarian (missions) trip to Kenya in October 2018. It was very hard for me to accept the invitation because I still struggled with forgiving myself for the mistakes of my past. It was difficult to consider the possibility that God would want me, of all people, to be His ambassador on the other side of the world to represent Him. I eventually pushed past my self-deprecation and accept the invitation to be a part of the team.
Ironically, one of the main responsibilities I was tasked with was speaking a message at a conference about forgiving self. Because I still battle with self-condemnation, I had no idea how I was going to communicate a message on this topic. The team and I went through months of preparation, fundraisers, and bonding leading up to our departure. About a week before our scheduled departure I was finally able to start organizing a message to deliver at the conference that I was able to believe for myself. A day before our scheduled departure the message was written, all of the funds for the trip were raised, and the bags were packed.
We boarded a flight in Tampa, landed in Washington DC, took off to Frankfurt and finally flew from Frankfurt to Nairobi, Kenya. As the plane touched down on Kenyan soil my eyes filled with tears as the gravity of where The Lord had just brought me settled in. I was blown away that The Lord’s forgiveness and restoration had brought me, of all people, to this place to share His message of forgiveness, restoration, hope, and most importantly, His love. It was genuinely surreal when my feet stepped off the staircase that led off the plane onto Kenyan soil. Walking from the plane into the airport terminal was one of the most elating walks I have ever taken.
After I breezed through the customs and immigration checkpoint it became real: I was in Kenya! Not only was I in Kenya, but I was there as a forgiven, redeemed, and loved child of The Living God about to be a testimony of Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the cross.
All of a sudden I heard a loud voice and rapidly approaching footsteps behind me. Startled, I stopped and turned around to see the customs officer who just cleared me through trying to get my attention. When he reached me he simply asked me to come back to the customers counter so he could. “verify some things.”
The next 30 minutes were a whirlwind. I ended up in a customs office and was asked several questions about why I was traveling to Kenya. After being in the office for a short time, the customs officer matter-of-factly said, “We are placing you back on the plane you arrived on. We are not allowing your entry into Kenya.” I humbly asked why, but the answer was always the same, “We are denying your entry into Kenya.”
In that moment the crushing weight of all of my past sins came upon me. No longer was I feeling like a testimony of the forgiving power of the cross of Christ Jesus. The work the Lord had started in me that convinced me that His forgiveness and redemption was available to me was, in a moment, null and void. The message I had just prepared 48 hours ago about The Lord’s forgiveness for all sin, and the necessity to forgive oneself, could not have been further from truth in my life.
I spent the next 36 hours traveling back to the United States weeping when I could get away with no one seeing me and fully embracing every thought that told me how stupid I was to think that forgiveness and any semblance of redemption was available for someone like me. For not the first time, I allowed the weight of my past sins to develop a shame so deep that I did not want to face anyone who knew me. When I finally arrived back to Florida I essentially locked myself away for days. I was ashamed to face anyone, my family included. Sadly, I allowed the enemy to steal from me about a week of my life while I hid my face in shame over sins that God had long since cast into the sea of forgetfulness.
Thankfully, The Lord is relentless in His pursuit of those He loves. The Holy Spirit worked around the clock to counter every thought that was contrary to His truth. He used individuals to pray and speak life and truth to counter the voices that had been telling me to stay down and be quiet. Fortunately, after losing several days of my life to self-loathing, pity, and entertaining the darkest of thoughts, His truth conquered.
The truth is, I have no idea why God orchestrated this event in my life and it is a futile effort to try to figure it out. When I was denied entry into Kenya I instantaneously forgot that He is God and I am not. I forgot He is the Sovereign One. I forgot how He has demonstrated to me His forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace 2,000 years ago on the cross. I forgot that it is nothing but pride to think that my sins are more powerful than God.
God told me to go to Kenya and I went. Not only did I go, but I was blessed with the privilege to stand on Kenyan soil. Maybe God is asking you to do something that makes no sense. Maybe you do exactly what you believe God asked you to do and it did not turn out remotely how you thought it would. There is blessing in the obedience and we may never know the answer to, “Why God?” I will tell you some truths that have become more solidified in me over the past few weeks: There are no transgressions that the cross of Christ Jesus can not cover. When we chose to confess and repent, those sins are remembered no more by The Creator of The Universe, the only One Who matters. We can not allow the consequences of our sins, the voices of those who do not represent the forgiveness of The Lord, and the wisdom of the world to keep us in bondage to condemnation and lack of forgiveness of self.
I am glad to be back from Kenya, though it was a short trip, because it is time for the next chapter in my life. A chapter that points people who have no hope to The One who offers love, grace, forgiveness, encouragement, redemption, mercy, and restoration who throw themselves down at the feet of Christ Jesus.