Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Returning Challenge

It is ironic but often the most challenging part of short-term missions is not the going, or the culture- but the returning. It is so hard to express all that one has seen. Seeing poverty changes a worldview. Watching God at work in impossible situations changes one’s understanding of Him. Being used by God opens up realms of possibilities never before thought of by the individual. It is amazing how simply leaving a comfort zone can completely change a lifethat starts a fire.

A fire that burns and refines- leaving the believer feeling the depth of what they are: a new creation. Eternal results. Salvations. Baptisms! DISCIPLESHIP! In short the goer “the missionary” is changed by what they experienced. And then of course the inevitable happens- planes are boarded, tears are shed, and everyone returns home.

At home, their fire still burns- their memories are fresh, names, and faces, and the stories attached have not begun to fade yet. They enter the organized chaos of America with a determined resolution to remain changed. Eventually though what was a luxury this summer becomes once again a necessity. The memories of the trip become just that, memories of a trip, slightly fuzzy but still convicting. Their audience is less interested as the stories are put on repeat. The fire begins to die, slowly perhaps but steadily.

I am not sure who is to blame, but I have seen it happen again and again. Please understand it’s not the memory of the trip or even the trip it self that is the fire. It is not even the memory of God at work- the fire is not a memory at all! It is the very presence of God at work in the students' lives. In your life.

Church Family: Fan the flame! The students are returning from service- encourage them! Thank them for going! Give praise to our Father that we have young people who are willing to go! Ask them to share- in Sunday School, a ladies tea, or 5 minutes on a Sunday night. Push them towards holiness- encourage them to be Godly and do not hinder their excitement for missions. God is calling out young people to long-term service through short-term missions- do you really want to discourage the next Lottie Moon from God’s calling?

And to the returning missionary: Feed the flame. Stay deep in Scripture. Meditating and memorizing. Apply Scripture to your life- do not just read it. Live it. Be purposeful in praying for missions, be determined in casting a mission vision where you are. And never underestimate what God can do with faith the size of a mustard seed. Do not be deterred by disinterest. Do not live for man’s approval. Follow God, go where He leads. And obey the Great Commission where you are now.

The older I become, the less impressed I am with humanity, and the more in awe I am of my God. His love is worth any small sacrifice of man. His salvation is worth proclaiming. And the home He offers to those who believe is beyond imagination. What an amazing God that inspires such wicked people towards holiness. What a good God that gives new life to a decrepit creation. May the fire that burns within those who believe burn bright- may our life’s mission be to proclaim His love. The only love that brings salvation.

Original post by Lizzie Holmes from The Same Plate.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Prayer Requests for the Riverboat Teams

Pray for V, a young man who has great leadership potential. Pray for his continued growth and knowledge of the Word, and for his confidence to increase. Pray that he would find an opportunity for discipleship.

Pray for Naynay G, an elderly woman who prayed to receive Christ and was baptized later that day. She shows an obvious understanding of the Truth that she is learning. She immediately began to face persecution for her decision to follow the Bible above the prevalent religious traditions. Pray for her strength to be renewed, and that the Lord would provide her with fellowship and support from others.

Pray that Kuya P and Ate D would teach their friends and neighbors what they've learned.

Pray for Ate K, the Baragay Captain's daughter, who opened up to the women on our team in a really genuine way. Her youngest child is missing two ribs, and will undergo surgery in a couple of months. Pray for her to see clearly what God has done for her. Pray for her to find a hunger for the Bible, and for her faith to increase.

Pray for Kuya I, who has an eagerness to learn from scripture. Pray that he would step up as a spiritual leader for the men of this barangay.

Pray for Kuya F, a man who started attending multiple Bible studies every day, and would help to explain part of the lesson to others at almost all of them. Pray that as others continue to look up to him, they would be lead to understand the truth for themselves.

Pray that Kuya H and his household would understand the commitment that they have made.

Pray for Barangay C. There is an evident darkness in this place. Drinking, gambling, and sexual sin seem more openly a part of life here than any other place we have seen this summer. Pray for protection for the children of this barangay.

Pray for our translator, Luigi, as he returns to work with another volunteer team for four months. Pray for the relationships that he will continue building with these people. Praise God for Luigi's willingness to be obedient and follow Him in everything.

Pray that we would be able to effectively share what we've learned and how we've grown. Pray that we would stay humble and obedient, and that God would continue to receive the glory for what He's done.

A Post from Thomas

This summer is coming to an end, and my team and I have grown tired and drained from our ministry here on the Oras River. As we began a week of ministry in our final barangay, it was pouring down rain. We had invited so many people to see our plaza presentation, but nobody was showing up. 

I was praying, “God, please let the rain stop and bring many to our presentation.” Right on cue the rain stopped, but there were only a few random people standing around.. I didn’t even really want to sing or do the drama skit, because nobody had shown up. We had come in fired up to finish strong in our last week, and we were left standing in puddles, awkwardly in the middle of a basketball court, thinking of postponing the presentation.

We ended up just shortening things and trying to get it over with. We sang a couple of Waray songs, shared a testimony, and explained that we had traveled there to teach the Bible. With much doubt in my mind, we began to talk to people in an attempt to schedule Bible studies. At that moment, God changed my view of His purpose that day. God didn’t need a plaza presentation; He was going to work in the hearts of the Waray-Waray people rain or shine. 

The next thing I knew, we had 14 Bible studies scheduled for the next day. Just like He did for me on that day, God is continually revealing His plan in this world. It’s not so that Christians can try to fit God into our schedule, but so that we can see how we fit into His big plan. 

Roman 6:18 calls us slaves to righteousness, and as slaves we are obedient to our Master. We serve a boundless God who can’t be put in a box, so we obedient followers of Jesus Christ must be completely submitted to His plan.

Prayer Requests for the Riverboat Teams

Pray for Naynay I, a woman from a Muslim family who became a Christian. Her husband always seems to be drinking and spending the money that she earns from working all day. Pray that the Lord would be her strength and that she would persevere. Pray for her to find an opportunity to meet with others, in spite of her hectic schedule.

Pray for Ate F and her son J, who has been diagnosed with TB. Pray that the Lord would provide for them as they seek treatment. Pray that He would work in their lives in an awesome way that only He can receive the glory for. Pray for healing.

Pray for R, a teenage boy who has made a decision to follow Jesus and shows great leadership potential.

Pray for Ate E and her 92-year-old aunt who has dementia and is experiencing a lot of fear. Pray that they would find rest and peace in the Lord.

Pray for Naynay E and her daughter, Ate B, who was very wary of our reason for meeting with them. Pray that she would come to a knowledge of her need for God. Naynay E practically blind, but remains eager to learn. Her grandson, P, has been reading scripture to her.

Pray for Kuya M and Ate I, who have been meeting for weekly Bible studies for over a year. Kuya M is a Barangay Official, and both of them remain very well respected in the community. Pray that the Lord would give them boldness. Pray for their leadership and renewed strength.

Pray for Barangay D, a place of many strongholds, and very evident sickness and loneliness. Pray that God would show his power and be glorified in this place.

What people are saying...

Saw these on Facebook and wanted to share...
Please continue to pray for safe travels .

It's hard to believe that we will be flying back to the U.S. in a couple of hours! This summer has been amazing getting to see so many lives changed for eternity! It's going to be completely different not waking up beside Kyle, Kaleb, and Jesus every single morning. I guess it's time for me to start thinking about college now!

Headed home!

In about an hour we will be heading to the airport to fly back to the United States. God worked mightily here in Cebu and many people were transformed by the Gospel. I am going to miss the people here and our team, but I know that God will continue to work here. Thank you God for using us. Goodbye Philippines!

Today, we begin the journey home.

God has been faithful this summer! It is a bitter sweet moment. I have got to meet some really amazing people, experience some amazing things, and see God at work. God is good. Praying for opportunities to share the gospel during travel. Blessed be the name!

‎"For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all." -Ephesians 4:4-6, NLT

The summer mission has ended but the mission for Christ never ends. Good-byes are tough but there are no good-byes for those who are in Christ. Together, we will celebrate in eternity! Leaving the Filipinos I love and care deeply about, today. You have been a great blessing to me and I pray God's blessings over our Filipino friends!

Well I'm on my way home from the wonderful country of the Philippines. I have to say it is so hard leaving a place that you have poured your heart into but there is a season for everything. I give all the praise to God because this was all about Him, for Him, and I couldn't have even made it here without Him. He did amazing things and my journey there was beautiful! Now its time to pray about what steps to take next! love you all!! :)

Sitting in the internet cafe on my last day in the Philippines. God has truly blessed and grown me this summer- I'll never be the same... and for that, I praise God!
America, see you in 24 hours!

Made it to Manila, now just waiting on our 16 hour flight. Over all God keeps teaching me more and more about this past 2 months. From the people I have met to the things I have seen, God has taught me through it all.

Words cannot serious descibe how wonderful and impacting my time has been over the past month and will continue to be during my last 3 weeks in the Philippines!! Our God is an awesome God! Thank you so much for all the prayers and support!

A Post from Jake

Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." For two months, God has shown me this again and again. Every step we took this summer was directed by God. He began by orchestrating our teams, and placed all of us exactly where He wanted us. Every Bible study happened because He planned it. All summer God has given us the words to speak. Despite all of our planning for Bible studies, the Holy Spirit always communicated His own message, rather than ours. That is awesome! We don't have to worry about our plans because God has His.

One night I had a dream about Romans 10, a message of salvation to all people. I woke up and read it. I had drawn a star in my Bible next to verse 9.
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9
I talked to everyone on my team about it and asked what they thought it meant. I already had a Bible study planned for that afternoon, so I just assumed that God wanted me to use that verse in my Bible study.

While I was talking about the dream with our translator, Luigi, a woman came to our door. Luigi told me that I should share my dream with her, so I asked her to come inside. She came in and I shared what I had dreamed. Luigi then explained how Jesus is the only way back to God. The woman began to cry and then she accepted Christ!

If I had used my plan, I would have just shared the dream at my Bible study, and that woman wouldn't have a relationship with Christ. God used the dream He gave me. He is directing my steps and I praise Him for that! His plans are so much better than mine anyway.