Saturday, July 4, 2015

Growing Pains

We have said goodbye to one village and hello to another. However, God has renewed my strength in the middle of a tough time. Last week on our R&R day, we went to a fish farm. I walked up expecting to catch a few fish and move on with my day; however, God had other plans.

I began to get discouraged about not feeling like I was actually sharing the gospel since I can only share so much before my translators are given leeway to share it in the heart language of our lovely people. I had found a sweet spot for fishing, and per the rules of the fish farms, a worker had to take the fish my hook for me. This girl named Josie just stayed beside me as I caught fish after fish. While we were waiting for me to catch the next fish, she began to ask me questions (IN ENGLISH!) about me and where I was from. After a few minutes of back and forth conversation, the conversation just died. As soon as the silence fell, I knew that not sharing the gospel with Josie would be direct disobedience to the Lord and my purpose for being in Cebu. So, I started the conversation back up talking about her brother, whom she had already talked about being a Christian. After asking her what she believed and if her brother had ever shared his beliefs with her, I laid the gospel out in simple terms. Her response to me was, "I can't be forgiven because I've done too much bad." This broke my heart. At that moment, it began to rain and we had to leave, so our conversation ended with my last words of, "God will still forgive you of what you've done." I felt a weight lifted from me as I was shown that I must be patient and let the Lord work.

-Zach
   
Things to pray for our team:
  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Continued unity in our team
  • People of Peace
  • Good health as we play basketball everyday
  • People who truly understand their need for the gospel!

Student at the Coffee Shop


My supervisor's wife and I met a college student at a coffee shop tonight who has been studying with her every week since April. Someone shared the Gospel with her then and she has been eagerly studying through the Torah ever since. On our first meeting, we studied Genesis 12 about Abraham. Despite her broken English, and my virtually non-existent knowledge of her language, (luckily my supervisor's wife can translate most things) we talked for almost an hour about Abraham, Jesus, and the Gospel. Her innocent questions reminded me why I was here:  to help people like her enter the Kingdom of God. 

The next week, I met with her alone, and she walked right up to me, and said "I have so many questions for you." What a blessing! I've never met anyone so open and seeking. 

Pray for this student.
Pray that her thirst for knowing God will drive her desire to continue to study God's word.
Pray that her questions will be answered & she will understand accept God's unconditional love for her.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Four Ways to Pray for Abidjan

Kids team
 We've been in Abidjan for almost four weeks now, and we have about four weeks left. Here are four ways that you can be praying for us:
  1. Pray that God would draw people to himself as we share the gospel in different neighborhoods of Abidjan. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44a).
  2. Pray that many young Christians would come to know and embrace a God-centered, Christ-exalting vision of marriage and its consummate act through our True Love Waits trainings. "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:31-32).
  3. Pray that we would be a blessing to believers here, both to the missionaries and to the natives. "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ...Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" (1 Thess. 5:9-11).
  4.  Pray that God be glorified in all that we do—the worship of his name, the building up of his church, and the calling of those he came to save. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).
Thank you for your prayers and support.

Student team
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36).

Tropical Fisher-women!

Enjoying a day off with our national partners
The Tropical Campus Fisherman team is made up of four beautiful, strong-willed, God-fearing women. Alainna, our team leader, is 22. She is a history major at Baptist College of Florida and pretty much keeps all of us in line. She has molded us into a family and with her strong mind and passion for God she leads our team with love and bravery.

Leah is our wisdom and knowledge. She is 20 years old and studies psychology at William-Carey University in Mississippi. She is the girl with all the answers to our questions and also the one to remind us of why we are all here. 

Caroline aka Carol is my teaching buddy and also the most kind-hearted person I have met. She is also 20 years old and double majors in Mass Communications and Christian Studies at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. Caroline is compassionate, sweet, and humble, always ready with open ears and a willing heart to do whatever it takes to win people to Christ. 

Lastly, we have our laughter, our happy heart, and the reason we stay smiling – Jen. Jen is 19 years old and studies nursing at a local community college in Tennessee. Jen is on fire for God and spreads her contagious smile all around.

June Highlight Reel Part 2

Chelsea and Charlsie, aka Gumbar Gumbar, meeting a store worker!
Day hike to a secluded beach with the team.

Courtney entertaining some local kids before the hike.
Charlsie getting ready to climb the wall and trust Courtney with her life! This was a great place to meet people!
Stephen beginning his climb. "Sikit Sikit lama lama jadi bukit"
Little by little the ant climbs the mountain.
Courtney with some new friends and the sweetest baby in the night market. This is a regular place we meet and share Isah!
Courtney enjoying arts and crafts with kids at a school.
Courtney teaching the kids a song and " creative movement".  
Courtney and Sam telling a story to the kids.
The beautiful sunsets are a daily reminder of the Father's goodness and faithfulness.
Group picture on the dock at the islands from our second trip out there.
The team enjoying a professional futbol match! Go rhinos!
Every week we venture into the Sunday Market to meet and share with people! 
Roasted seafood table to "Buka Puasa" or break fast with the locals!
June has been as incredible as this picture. Lift up the team and the people we meet! Ask for the Spirit to move in this city!

Oh, The Things You'll See

Kaylee playing the guitar
Hannah and friends
Carley, Hannah, and Kaylee with youth from Belleville
A picture of Kaylee taking a picture
Hannah carrying her new friend
Discussing a literary classic, The Missionary

Motorbike Adventures


We met up with two friends this morning, and then they took us by motorbike around our city. It was nothing to them, because the city is full of them, but it was our first time & so we loved it! We saw a monument of the city, and then ate lunch at a mall and walked around. While we were there, the subject of demons came up. We were able to share stories about Jesus having power over demons, and then large parts of the Gospel. Praise God for opportunities to plant seeds! One of our friends is very open, she's even read parts of the Bible on her own.

Pray that we'll be able to continue meeting with these sweet friends and help them understand their need for a Savior

I love Him like you love Him


Kari with English Club girls (Summer 2013)

It was two years ago, and I remember it well because I've shared the story many times. My teammate and I were in this beautiful small town on the coast of the South China Sea. Our mission: share Truth with all English speakers we encountered. And so we did. We met countless friends, drank coffee together, laughed together, shared life together, and in the end, we all cried together. We fell in love. We fell in love with these people, and our hearts ached at the reality of their lostness. So we did all that we could do to "compel them to come in." 

She has a big, beautiful smile that decorates her face quite often, and the sweetest of spirits. I can't tell you how many times we shared Truth with her that summer, and every time we saw her a few days later I would ask, "do you remember the story of the Son we talked about last time?" She never failed to reply (with a smile on her face and confusion in her eyes), "um, no I don't remember. I don't understand." How frustrated I was! 

It was the last week. (Read the original story) The end of the summer was drawing to a close, and this was our last chance. Our friends were meeting us for our weekly "English Club" and we were preparing to tell,in gruesome detail, the death of the Son on the cross and his glorious resurrection. The day came, and it was pouring rain. Despite the confusion due to the rain, we had quite a few of our friends show up. The rain was loud, hitting the tin roof we were under. "Can they even hear the story?" I thought, "Do they understand it?" (Before, we would often have to stop to explain confusing words and answer questions.) 

I interrupted the story to make sure. "No Kari, we understand. Please don't interrupt again." They all scooted closer to hear. Jesus died, and then I saw the tears. "Don't you know he did this for you!" I wanted to scream. Then, he came back to life. The girl with the beautiful smile came to me afterwards with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you! Thank you for sharing the story with me. I did not understand before, but I understand now, and now I can tell others."

That is not the end of the story. A year later, I received a Facebook message from the girl with the beautiful smile. "I love him like you love him," it said. I rejoiced! But I also doubted. I wanted more than anything to go there, to talk to her. This last week, I did. I saw her beautiful smile, hugged her neck, ate two meals at her house, and asked her about her message. "Yes Kari, of course I am a believer. Remember, you shared the story with me," she said with a huge smile. "I have told my family that I am a Christian and I read the Book you gave me." My heart rejoices! I am reminded that "those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." 

Please pray for the girl with the beautiful smile. She needs opportunities to grow in her faith, and people to help her study the Book. Thank you Lord for the harvest!