By the time this post is shared, Joy Puckett will be in Uganda in East Central Africa. She left Southern Ohio Tuesday.
Joy has answered the call to serve on the mission field for one year.
Who could do that?
I find it a challenge to do something over a weekend, let alone 52 weeks.
She quit her job as a social worker and saved her money over the past few years and has quietly gathered support for her journey.
The Northwest High School graduate earned her bachelor’s degree from Shawnee State University in our hometown of Portsmouth, and received her master’s from Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky.
But a seed was planted in her many years ago, and it has grown and blossomed into her passion.
Joy went to Uganda three years ago on a four-month mission trip. It made such an impact that she had to return and do more within the country that is bordered by Kenya and South Sudan.
“This has been growing in me for a long time,” she told me after her final service at Rubyville Community Church on Sunday night. “I’ve always been interested in missionary work.”
The idea of helping spread the Gospel abroad grabbed her imagination as a child, but there were some negatives attached.
The thought of asking people for money and leaving the family was a big deterrent.
While in college, she minored in math, and her education came in handy when she taught a math-GED class on her first mission trip.
She felt useful in making a positive impact on the lives of others.
This time, she will fuse her training in social work to instruct and support local people in Uganda to counsel refugees who experience mental trauma as a result of war.
“This is just something that I need to do,” she told me. “It’s been on my heart for a long time.”
She will meet up with organizers of the group Tutapona, which works in Uganda and Iraq with traumatized, war-affected individuals. The focus is to walk them through a process where they receive healing and transformation through trauma rehabilitation.
Her students will be working with victims of rape and mutilation, former child soldiers, sex slaves, children, refugees and anyone affected by the horrors of war.
This does not sound like a vacation.
It sounds like work – real work. It also sounds dangerous.
But Joy did not seem worried or anxious. She was determined and had a peace about her Sunday night.
“I’m not sure what it will be like from day-to-day but that’s okay with me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
She knows she will be away from her family for a year and will try to find comfort in the mission, and also in the local cuisine.
“They have awesome food there,” she added with a smile. “I’m excited about that.”
Joy’s journey has inspired me and made me a bit jealous. I’ve always wanted to take a mission trip. But I’m not sure how helpful I’d be. More than likely, I’d get in the way or cause an international crisis.
On second thought, I’ll stick with my form of ministry – my writing.
I know it’s not the same, but I’m not in a contest with anyone. God has chosen Joy and she’s answered the call. He has also summoned me into my own unique way to help others.
Over the past several months, I have received dozens of notes of encouragement and messages that thank me for what I am doing. They offset the negative ones by a long shot.
These messages mean a great deal to me because they come from people who I don’t know who take the time to tell me that my posts inspire them.
But what they don’t realize is their messages validate the calling in my life. For years I fought doing anything, and I still encounter the forces of evil each day who try to disrupt me and put it all to an end.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6: 8 KJV)
The notes are confirmation that what I am doing really matters. I struggle daily and at times entertain the idea to toss in the towel and quit. My wife hears me say words like “Who really cares?” or “Why do I even bother to do this?”
Then, at the right moment, my phone will buzz, and I’ll see a message from someone I only know from social media.
Joy has received the same confirmation in different ways.
We are both trying to do what we feel is necessary. I’ll stay behind my computer at home while she is 7,500 miles away helping people she does not know cope with life.
Whisper a prayer for her tonight, and maybe that will calm her fear of being in a motorcycle accident over the next 12 months.
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” she added.
And when she gets home, I think Angie and I will treat her to Toro Loco.
Thank you for your service, Joy.
What confirmation do you receive? Are you on the front lines?
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
His first book — BUCKEYE BELIEVER - 40 Days of Devotions for The Ohio State Faithful —can be purchased on Amazon.