This week we will feature a different woman from #theFives as she shares her heart with us. In an attempt to break down walls and promote unity among women, we will uncover the real lives of those we haphazardly label and judge.
Here is the story of Alyssa McKenzie, a teen who lives across the world and wakes at 5 a.m. to pray:
The idea of India, with its bright colors, exotic festivals and elephants, intrigued Alyssa before she and her family moved there to do mission work.
But the reality of living in Delhi — a city of 31 million people — took its toll, until Christ used the circumstances to draw Alyssa closer to His heart.
“Culture shock is, by definition, ‘The feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes,’” said Alyssa, who first moved to India at the age of 11.
While that first journey was full of hurt and spiritual warfare, Alyssa made good friends, and she was eager to return to India when God again tugged at her family’s hearts and called them back.
“For the first six months, I was content with where I was,” she said. “It was exciting to be learning new things, a new language, and a new culture. I was kind of in a ‘honeymoon stage’ with India.”
However, the grind of daily life took its toll as the culture shock set in.
“I became really depressed,” Alyssa said. “Everything that was already wrong with India just seemed to multiply itself. The things I had once thought about India were all very wrong. There were colorful festivals, but they were always centered on at least one of their many gods, gurus, or idols.”
Rather than being a fun and easygoing place, Alyssa said there was a sense of dark pressure “caused by all of the demonic strongholds and oppression in the country.”
There were other challenges as well.
“I was also frustrated that there were no opportunities for me because I’m a girl,” she said. “I was frustrated that I couldn’t go outside alone since it’s extremely dangerous for women. I was overwhelmed by the culture of greed, lies, and corruption. I was shocked by the amount of ground, air, and noise pollution. These were things I had to face daily.”
But, far removed from her comfort zone, God called Alyssa to find comfort in Him alone. Then he helped her to learn to love India for what it was, to make friends, and to be His light in the process.
“During this difficult time I was putting aside God and basically telling God that I needed time for me,” Alyssa said. “I found joy in nothing, my self-esteem plummeted, and I wanted to be in control of my life. After council from a Godly mentor, I began reading the Bible again, and slowly but surely, I began to trust God again.”
This allowed her to begin making friends, and the friendships provided an opportunity to witness to Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikh ultimate Frisbee teammates.
“Because I was fully relying on God, he showed me that we were in India for a reason, and when you’re in the center of God’s will, it’s always the safest place you could be.”
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Share your story below.
We hope you can #findyourtribe here with us.
*All stories featured in the#FindYourTribe series were collected and written by Sarah Gooding. We love her so.