Outrageous Courage Tracy Evans Interview
“I was off to save the world and decided to make my mark in the Philippines. Eleven other missionaries and I had taken a 6 month course to give medical aid to the squatters in the garbage dumps in the Philippines. It was a city of it’s own with 20,000 squatters, living off the garbage dump. Immediately I found out I wasn’t as spiritual, equipped or as brave as I thought. On my first day on the dump, I saw some children looking down the hill. As I ran over to find out what they were looking at, I too peered down the hill and saw 8-9 guys stripped naked, chained together and thrown into the river. Horrified I ran over to report to the person in charge. He barely acknowledged what I had told him, because this was an everyday sight to him. When I began shouting that they needed to call the police he informed me that the police probably did it! And so began “mission work” on the dump”
Robbie: This is just one of the many stories I heard from Tracy when we visited a few weeks ago. After her interview, I started to think about the time I thought I might be a missionary. Many years ago I told God I would be a missionary and go wherever He wanted to send me. I was quite sure I would be going to Africa and I wasn’t sure how my children were going to take it. However, I ended up in Omaha Nebraska, living a life way beyond anything I could even have dreamed of. Tracy is the real deal and has been a missionary for over 30 years, most recently in Mozambique. I asked her if I could spend some time with her and just listen to some of her stories of her life. I’m so stunned by the decisions she made and how God met her there. And so glad I didn’t go to Africa. I would not have survived! There are days I wonder what the plans are God has for me after going through the tragedies of my family. I know they are way beyond anything I can dream of, which makes me happy because I know I’m never done dreaming. I’m grateful to have people like Tracy to point the way. With God, there’s always more. More adventures, more hope, more intimacy with God, and more in every aspect of my life. Hope you enjoy and are stirred by her message of courage.
At 24 years old, Tracy Evans was “full of faith and no wisdom” as she readily admits. Here’s her testimony to me:
Robbie: “What was the most important thing you learned?”
Tracy: I was determined to find out who Jesus was. Was He the Jesus presented to me at church, or in books I’d read, or was He the Jesus in the bible? I wanted an authentic relationship with Him. What if I had a fake Jesus? Then I had a fake salvation. The only way to truly know was to test Him at His word. Was He really going to provide? My home that year was an abandoned fish factory which was a rented warehouse on the side of the dump. When the tide came in, the sewage came up to our knees. I became desparately ill with tuberculosis, parasites and lice. The roof leaked and there was mold on the walls. I refused to take the medicine I so desparately needed for my tuberculosis patients, because one of them would not get the medicine if I took it. At night I would sleep in the coffin room, a room that had been set aside to make coffins for the many people that were dying. I didn’t want anyone to know I had tuberculosis because they would send me home, so I slept far away from the others, thinking they wouldn’t know. I began to lose weight and become very weak, but I was determined that I wasn’t going home. I didn’t want to give up. If I had called home, they would have sent me a ticket. Instead I just kept asking “God, where are you?”
Robbie: “Would You Continue To Stay Even If It Meant Your Death?”
Tracy: “Oh absolutely!” was her immediate response. She didn’t even have to think about it.
Robbie: Of course then I was thinking about it. Beginning to question her wisdom, because of course I would have called home and gotten a ticket out. But is that because I couldn’t have done what she did? Therefore she must be wrong? Hopefully I never have to test myself, but I was even more amazed at this woman the more I got to know her.
Tracy: “So many children were dying around me, especially the ones that I had prayed so hard for; and suddenly one I hadn’t prayed so hard for would live. How could I justify all of this with God? It didn’t make any sense. One little girl at 6 years old had determined that she would die. She would not let us feed her, and when we did manage to get some food down her, she would force herself to throw up. I had told this little girl about this Jesus in heaven, and she was determined to go there. She was not going to grow up on the dump. At 6 years old she only weighed 12 pounds and knew she didn’t want to live.
Sadly, this little girl soon passed away and it was so hard to understand. I was at the end of my strength. As I sat in my shack one day, looking out the hole in the wall and questioning God ‘Is any of this worth it? Am I just saving people to live a few more years in this pain and suffering?, Where are you God?’ Wondering how this all could possibly make sense, I continued to look out the hole in the wall and saw a man with his little girl. The little girl was a toddler and just learning how to walk. The father held her hands tenderly and helped her to step along so she didn’t fall. This little one wanted to walk by herself and she shook off her daddy’s hands and began to fall but just before she fell into the trash and garbage, her father swooped in and scooped her up. He was there all the time. She had always been safe. That’s where God spoke to me and reminded me that He is always there and He will swoop down and scoop me up to help me carry on. I was changed that day. There are those that say they want to know God, but they don’t want to know His suffering. I believe this is how I got to know God and to know that He is always there. To be a part of His suffering.
As I went back to God’s word and began reading again about Paul, I was reminded he wrote many of his letters from a prison.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;I have been cold and naked…
This became real to me when I was shipwrecked 3 times trying to get to the other side of the islands and minister to the people there. I was captured by the guerillas who were trying to overthrow the government and was thrown into a small cell because they thought possibly I was valuable to the Phillipine government and would want to trade me for something. When that didn’t happen, they kept me because I kept telling them God would not be happy if they killed me. I knew there were enough men who had been catholics to believe this was possible. I was allowed to minister to the people there and led many to the Lord, and all of the men who walked me back and forth to the village heard the word along with the natives. I saw more miracles there than I had ever seen before. It was over two years later that I finally made it back to the United States. I had been in the Phillipines for 7 years and had not ever rested or had time to process all that had happened to me.”
Robbie: “Have you ever wanted to give up?”
Tracy: “I was blessed by some friends to be able to attend Stanford and receive my degree as a PA to continue nursing and helping as a missionary. But eventually my pain and trauma caught up with me and I found myself in a field one day, thinking I would end it all. I couldn’t stop the thoughts of all the horrible things I had seen and experienced. The only thing that stopped me was thinking about the people that had been so kind to me. I knew they would be really sad, so I stopped and turned around and went back. This took me on a long path of healing and recovery. I had no idea there was a way to find help for all the pain I was carrying inside. I was able to get to a place of healing not only emotionally but physically as well. It took some time to heal from all the things that happened to me, and now I’m vigilant about understanding needs and help for missionaries that travel now. I also believe that if I’m in Christ and I’ve given Him all, then I don’t have a right to ruminate on things that are not from Him. When thoughts come, I take them captive to Christ, worship and keep my mind focused.
I have now been in Mozambique for 14 years and believe I have pioneered a trail for missionaries to come and make a home there with their families. When asked what keeps me going, how do I keep going? I know it is the word of God. I’ve interviewed and known a lot of missionaries in my life and the one common thread among them has been that those that are able to stay have a deep knowledge and hunger for the word of God.”
Here’s a short video I found of her!
Robbie: Well, there you have it. So many more stories, so many more victories, but you’ll have to get the book to read them all. I feel that my life has just been opened in a new way to the world around me. If Tracy has enough courage to go to foreign lands by herself, I think I can open my heart up to the city around me and begin there. It’s so good to get my mind off of my daily needs and on the adventure of the homeless right here in Redding.