The Power of Speaking Up, As Evidenced in My Missions Trip to Cameroon

Jessica Smith and Favour Ikome delivering a presentation on business development in Limbe, Cameroon

After a couple of days, I’m finally ready to collect my thoughts on my first missions trip to Africa.

There are a dozen different angles from which I could approach this story. I could begin by recounting my history with Favour and how God placed us in the same bunkbed in New York City, years before any of this was under way. Or I could talk about my profession as a business counselor and my heart to empower underprivileged women. I could even discuss my own inner struggles regarding my perception of beauty and my journey to loving the skin I’m in.

But, I’m not going to do any of that.

Instead, I want to talk about the power of speaking up.

Most people who’ve known me since I was young know that I was never the most vocal person. And even when I did talk, I didn’t assert myself. I didn’t speak with confidence. I wasn’t loud. In fact, my parents had to constantly tell my sister and me “speak up” because they couldn’t hear what we were saying.

Anyway, somewhere along the road, I found my voice. I knew what I couldn’t hold my thoughts in quietly because there were destinies at stake — even if just my own.

A couple of months before this trip to Africa, I joined a program for women called “Unveiled: Created to be a Voice.” It was a journey of discovering the message that God has uniquely called me to carry. I had a feeling that grand opportunities would be presented to me once I finished the program. What I didn’t know is that I would be the one creating that opportunity. And with my voice.

The Ladies of Unveiled’s Inaugural Cohort posing with Founder Connie Padmore

What do I mean by that? Glad you asked!

I wasn’t invited to go on this missions trip to Cameroon. I invited myself. After the idea of empowering women in Africa kept stirring up in my spirit, I decided to call up Favour, the pioneer of the trip, and ask her if I could join her for her first annual Beautiful You conference for her nonprofit organization, Raising a Generation of Esthers Foundation (RGE). I knew the trip had been in the works, but I didn’t know much else.

Come to find out that the very day I called her was the day she was booking the flight for all of the participants!! I was right on time. If I would have waited a second later, I would have missed out on the opportunity.

Speak up.

This theme of speaking up appeared in a couple of stories during my time in Cameroon.

The one that I want to share happened the night before our trip ended.

We had a time of corporate worship and prayer amongst the team members in the house we stayed at, Bethel House.

Fun fact: “Bethel” means “House of God” in Hebrew.

One of our team members, Dr. Faith Wokoma, lead pastor at Warring Ministries International in Raleigh, North Carolina, initiated this time for us together. She made sure that we were all poured into, after we had poured out so much of ourselves into other people the whole week. A couple of additional guests were also present with us.

One guest was Lovelin, one of the young ladies who cooked for us during the week. (We were blessed to have 3 meals a day prepared for us to avoid getting sick from local food.)

When it was time to pray for her, Dr. Faith asked her if she was in school. She responded no and that she’s working. Dr. Faith asked her if she wanted to go to school and what she wanted to study if she did go. Lovelin responded that she wanted to be a chef. Immediately, Dr. Faith said she would fund her tuition to the University of Buea if she applied to the scholarship program through Raising a Generation of Esthers Foundation!

Simply by voicing her dream, she changed the trajectory of her life.

I was blown away! This was the whole point of our missions trip — to deposit into the lives of young women who wouldn’t have ordinarily had the opportunity to rise above their circumstances. The Beautiful You conference is the leadership development leg of RGE. Every year, they award scholarships to students at the University of Buea who want to elevate their lives and tap into their God-given potential.

Earlier that week, Pastor Ingrid, another one of our team members, talked about the importance of scholarships and the power of education to transform lives. She was speaking specifically to the mothers of the scholarship recipients that were a part of RGE this past school year, imploring them to not hold their daughters back from life changing opportunities.

The reason why Favour made it out of Cameroon and moved to the United States was because she received a $100,000 to attend Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. This was after having to drop out of school because she couldn’t afford tuition in Cameroon, which only amounted to $100 a year.

What would have happened if Favour never opened up her mouth to speak?

What if she never thought she was good enough to apply for the scholarship?

What if she never combated the lies spoken over her, accusing her that she would never amount to anything good?

Hundreds, soon to be thousands, of lives would be worse off — including mine and her own.

There are incredible opportunities awaiting you. You have to use the power of your voice to create your reality. You can’t afford not to. Lives are at stake.

Jessica Smith and Blessing Ikome, posing with RGE scholarship recipients and supporters

Something I learned from one of Dr. Faith’s sermons that week was that there are 2 different types of prayers: petitions and declarations. Petitions are when we ask God for something.

Please keep my family safe. Please help me to serve You better. Please provide for my needs.

Declarations, however, are when we SPEAK the truth about what has already happened. Pastor Sam at Jesus Army Revival Ministries talked to us about how the spiritual world is the world of causes and the natural world is the world of effects. What we see on earth is a result of what has already happened in heaven.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven…

So, this is what a declaration sounds like:

My family is surrounded by angels on every side. My life is hidden in Christ and I am created in Him to do good works. My God has already supplied every need of mine according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

See the difference?

Here’s my prayer for you all:

Lord Jesus,
Thank you for everyone reading this post. Thank you for everyone who has supported Your vision for my life and has encouraged me along the way.
Thank you for knowing their unspoken needs and desires and for already meeting them. Please give them the courage to voice those dreams and the faith to believe that they will come to pass.
Help them take steps to following Your good, perfect and pleasing will for their lives. Remove all fear and every false accusation about Who You are or are not.
You are pure love and Your sacrifice on the cross made it possible for us to live freely, passionately and unafraid of what this world brings.
Give them peace, Lord. May they know in their heart of hearts that their number one purpose in life is to receive the love You freely give.
In Your Name I pray. Amen.