Thursday, October 18, 2012

AMBER


Amber served on the NFFF Bukidnon Team, her life verse is Romans 10:14

 What has this summer so far taught you about God? It has taught me that He is faithful to do what it is that He says he’ll do and never forgets His promises.

 How has this summer changed you? Throughout this summer, I have learned to have more faith in God and his provision and His love. I’ve also learned the true meaning of being a missionary and that no matter if you stay where you’re at or if you go overseas, you are to always be a missionary.

How has your involvement in Nehemiah Teams/P52 changed your view on missions? I’ve seen what they mean about missions is not supposed to be an experience but an act of service and being there to reach the lost.

·      What one story/experience sums up your summer? One of the young college students was telling me about how his grandmother raised him his whole life because his parents split when he was a baby, and his mother went to work abroad in order to support him. His attitude is so positive, and he told me that by the grace of God, he has come to be grateful for what God has shown him in his life. That reminded me that no matter what the obstacles, God will always get you through it and nothing is to huge or too difficult for God.

·      What story will you share with friends and family to encourage them in sharing your vision? I would encourage anyone who thinks that they can’t do missions to reconsider. I thought that I wasn’t capable of being a missionary, but God has shown me that EVERYONE is called to be a missionary and that He wants to use everyone in a special way to reach those who are lost.

·      How has your worldview changed this summer? I’ve seen just how much the world is hurting. Seeing this has convicted me and has shown me that I need to be more grateful and not take what God has given me for granted.

·      In what ways did God surprise you this summer? When I couldn’t do it, He showed me that I’m more capable of doing things that I was surprised I could do. I didn’t know that I could spend a whole entire summer in a foreign country.

·      How did knowing people at home were praying for you affect your performance/determination to finish the race strong? It definitely motivated me and to keep on pressing on. It would be very encouraging to see emails that said “I’m praying for you” or “I’m continuing to pray for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can pray for”. That just kept encouraging me and kept me from being as homesick as I would have been if they didn’t. I think of Matthew 18:20 which says “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” When people are gathered together in prayer, God hears that and answers that prayer. I felt the answers to those prayers.

·      Why should people sign up for Nehemiah Teams/P52? I feel like people should sign up for Nehemiah Teams/P52 because so many times we get so used to the things and life that God gives us that we take that for granted. These mission trips will help you to see just how back the world is hurting and how important it is to reach the lost in the unreached areas of the world and not just where you are at.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Open your box



For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:20

First, I write this to everyone. But, I want to let Bre, Blue, and Jillian know I had you guys in mind when I wrote this. Miss you guys so bad, you each have no clue the impact you made in my life, and do not be silent about what God done in your life this summer.

I will never forget coming home from Sudan the first time. Perhaps, the strangest thing was that home was no longer home. I didn’t move, my house was not rearranged, and my friends were still there. Actually nothing much had changed at all, but I sure had. Over the summer I felt as if I was to die that day I would have truly lived more in that summer than many people get to in a lifetime. Home was no longer home, and I simply was not comfortable in my own skin. But after a few weeks passed something dangerous happened…

I put my summer in a box. I literally unpacked my backpack that had been my best friend all summer and stuck him in the closet. I put the money, bracelets, and the pipe made of shell casings on the shelf to be put on display to collect dust. I emptied my memory card on an external hard drive and looked at the photos of Peter, mapuar, and Elizabeth as I compressed them in a folder. Then I took the letters, my journal, and my notes and stuffed them in a box that went under my bed.

See what happened over those weeks was one of the most trying times in my life. One of my biggest mistakes in my thinking came when I realized time simply did not stop because I was gone. Some friends had transferred college, people had broken up, and church had a summer full of activities. It simply got tough when my hopes ran high at the question of “How was your summer?” I was so excited to tell stories of how I had seen God move in nomadic African cattlekeepers, stories of how we danced in the rain with tribal drums, or stories of how people burnt their handmade idols, but almost every time that question simply wanted a “It was good,” as a response. It got old, it got old real quick. I will never forget when an older gentlemen patted me on the back and said, “Well, it’s back to real life.” I found it ironic, that the experiences of attending a five year old’s funeral (dead from malaria), seeing twelve year olds constantly carrying AK47s in their arms, and seeing people pray to idols was some how equated to a false “reality.” Because the truth of the matter was it all seemed very “real to me.”

Eventually, it got old being known as the “summer missions” guy, so I learned to keep quiet. The faces on the slideshows I showed was just that to many, just faces. But, to me the faces had names and souls. They mattered to me and they certainly mattered to God. I found out that summer that until you know there is a problem, you do not look for the solution. That summer I found a huge problem, 2.7 billion people had never heard of Jesus Christ and I wanted to be part of the solution. My heart now broke for the man who “prayed to a tree, because he did not know how to reach God” and I knew if I didn’t do my part in sharing Jesus with him, who would.

But others didn’t really want to hear this. So I shut up. Before I knew it, my life had became routine again. I was working, going to school, and life was back just the way it had been before. I had put my summer in a box and it simply was too tough to look in it and try and share it with others. I took on the fortress mentality and decided I was an island. That I would do this by myself and everyone else could go on their own merry way, unmoved by 2.7 billion people not knowing Jesus.

Until I received a little letter in the mail addressed to myself that we had written the last week of the summer. It was now February, and honestly Africa was not on my mind. It was cold and civilized where I was now, but the letter took me back to a time I felt alive in the heat of the wild. I remembered what God had done in my life and when I did I could not be silent. I opened the box.

Over the next few years I would walk several students through the World Christian Bible Study, speak at many churches, and often times be the “summer missions guy” in many social gatherings. It was not easy, at all. Most of the people I shared with did not go on to do summer missions, did not ask me about my experience, or even say anything. But a few did, a few even went on to do summer missions and God has done great things in their lives also. I learned this, just like people need to hear the gospel, we have to help people realize there is a problem, and there is a solution. Through God’s Word, stories, devotions, and living out your gospel experience you have an opportunity to impact the 2.7 billion. No man is an island, and God never intended on us doing this alone. The channel in which God uses is not an individual or a single organ, it’s a church, it’s a body. And that same grace and patience you show to the refugee, has to be shown to the Christian who does not understand why we travel to third world countries to share the gospel. They both are essential to the kingdom, and both have a part in God’s plan of redemption.

So share your stories, live through your Gospel experience, anticipate friction, open the box, but know this might be the greatest thing you may be able to do for the kingdom right now is to never, ever, be silent.
-Justin