Saturday, July 30, 2016

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 life –that 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 Roe from The Same Plate.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Safe Travel Home

It was the Lord our God Himself who brought us...He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.  Joshua 24:17

Team members will begin traveling home today. Please pray for a safe journey as well as pleasant reunions with family and friends.

Team of the Day
All Teams

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Final Day

All students arrived back and have been at debrief for the past couple days. Today (thursday) is their last full day. 


Last day to be with team mates that they have grown to love over the summer.
Last day to to be on that "mountain high" of a full summer of ministry. 
Last day to share all that God has done for the past 2 months with like-minded friends.

Their bodies are tired... their eyes tend to glaze over about mid-afternoon (thanks jet lag!)... and some of them don't smell the best after hand washing their clothes all summer.

But they are joyful. They had the joy of getting to share the Good News with thousands of lost souls this summer. ALL were faithful to plant the seeds... SOME were privileged to be a part of the harvest. They took up the challenge and were faithful to "Do the small things" this summer.

  • Pray for this last day to be a good culmination of all that has taken place this summer
  • Pray for the evening commitment time... the choices to be made will affect the eternal destiny of others.
  • Pray for the good byes to be said. Some have already said good-bye to national partners... now, they will say it to their American team mates.
  • Pray for opportunities for them to share their stories & live out the World Christian lifestyle as they return home to family, friends, churches & school.

You Are Different

As we went through the summer, we realized what a mark we are leaving on how our friends view us. When we needed a ride on our friend's motorbike he replied, "As long as you trust me like the way you trust Jesus!"   Even when they are not asking questions they still see us, they still watch us. What an encouragement and reminder it is to be told... "We see that you are different.

-Tip of the Spear

Grateful Hearts

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  Philippians 1:3-5

Praise God for the opportunities He provided for teams to minister. Pray that team members would remember with joy what God has done in them and through them these past few weeks for His glory.

Team of the Day
All Teams

Hungry for the Word

It was our sixth week here and with almost every encounter, we are presenting His good news. A two hour coffee rendezvous turned into an 7 hour discussion about who Christ is and what He means to every person on earth.  Meetings with our new brother occur frequently and deeply as he is hungry and the Holy Spirit is helping him grasp many concepts. Story telling from His book is requested multiple times every time we meet with one of our friends.

Recently, we spent an entire day with our friend's family at his house, trying on traditional dress, eating together, laughing and singing karaoke, and being a part of the family. During that time we were given a special moment to discuss with him what he believed and present Christ's message as the children playing in the room quieted themselves and sat with us. Please be praying for all of our friends as we place truth before them that the He will open their eyes to see this truth and its relation to them. Also be praying for us as our days are growing fuller, that we will lean on Him when we grow tired.

-Tip of the Spear

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seek Ye First

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Pray for team members to seek God's plans for their future. Pray they would step into those plans in faithful obedience.

Team of the Day
All Teams

When in Greece...

In the past week, many tears have been shed knowing that my time in Greece would end today. Goodbyes were hard and will continue to be difficult when the team I have been with this summer part ways on Thursday. In this moment, I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given this summer to serve refugees. They are so kind and loving and selfless in a way I have never seen before. I love them dearly and they are already missed. God is good all the time. All the time He is good.

-Emilie


I am so sorry I haven't updated you until now, but these last two weeks have been so different. We were able to serve in new and creative ways and I can't wait to share with you all about it in person. All I can say about the end of our time is God is faithful and sovereign, and we have seen that firsthand.
Please lift us up and we are traveling back to the states today. See you soon!

Blessings and love,
-Kallie

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

First back in US!

Brandon, Josue & Anderson
Welcome back to the US! 

The first 3 guys have been picked up in Atlanta and will hopefully get a few hours rest before heading to Rainsville for debrief.

Continue to pray for all students as they make their way back to debrief. 

Continue to pray

As we move through our last week we are filled with joy and love and nostalgia. We had many meetings involving laughter and tears and many gifts! Our time here has come to an end but we still saw the Father moving in mighty ways. In this week He not only gave us time to enjoy the last days with our new friends but treated us to welcoming two more people into our family! We praise Him for being a part of His work. 

Continue to pray for our friends that we are leaving here: for urgency and understanding to those who have not decided to follow yet, for faith and strength to those who are new members in the family, for selflessness and perseverance to those that will come, and for peace and rest to those that are here. Continue to ask for servants to come, people to listen, barriers to be broken, and doors to be opened. And finally keep us in mind as we travel home, for the Father to send His protection and for us to continue to share wherever we are! 

-Tip of the Spear

Safe Travel

It was the Lord our God Himself who brought us...He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.  Joshua 24:17

As our teams begin to travel back for debrief, pray for safety in route.

Team of the Day
All Teams

Providing New Beginnings

God never stops providing. This is what I have learned over the past two weeks since being banned from the camp. While we are all still hurting, we have also seen God's provision through everything. 

Our team was able to come together and brainstorm with a new way to reach refugees. While we still are unable to go into camps, we have refurbished a rental space for refugees to come to us. In this place we will have more freedom then we ever did in the camp. We have already been able to meet refugees on the streets and meet with them at the space. On Monday we will host our first official event. Eventually we hope to have daily hours for refugees to just stop by.

Another blessing has been being able to truly live life with some refugees. We have been able to host and serve several Syrians at our home. Last week we took two families to the beach and swam with them in the ocean. These are things we never had the time or energy to do in the past. I feel blessed to have the chance to love on these people and point them to the one who loves them the most.

Tears fill my eyes when I think that our last day begins in a few hours. But I have no regrets. God has moved this summer. I only wish I could stay longer to see what else He will do here. Please pray for those who are staying and that they will not grow weary. Pray that the new center will be used to bring the Good News to many! 


Monday, July 25, 2016

See you later!

Saying "See you later!"
Today was our last day in the city that has treated us so well for the past 6 weeks. Although it was difficult to leave, we take comfort in the Father's providence and that He will continue to work in the lives of the people we were able to touch.

The best news though is that T made a decision yesterday to trust in Christ for forgiveness. We realized we needed to meet with her one last time after she made a profound comment while hanging out with her and many others last night, "Zack, isn't the best gift of all our Good, Good Father?" She used terminology because she heard us sing at last Wednesday at an English club.

Today Zack and Des met her at a coffee shop and Des was able to through C2C (Creation 2 Christ) with her. After going through the picture and explaining His Story, T came to the conclusion that making a decision for Christ was the most important part of the story. Des then invited her to make that decision and T asked Christ to forgive her!
Des sharing C2C with T

After we all came back to rejoice together in our hotel over how good the Father has been to us this summer, we headed to our going away party to which we had invited all the friends we had made over the past two months. It was so humbling to see such a diverse crowd and remember how the Father brought all of these people into our lives. We shed tears, exchanged gifts, and said "See you later" to these people who the Father is working mightily in.

Our last act before leaving the city was to dunk "King J," the nickname we gave to our friend who came to know the Father 3 weeks ago. We went to another local pool and celebrated his death to his old self and his new life in Christ. As a gift, we gave him an ESV Study Book, a tool he has no access to in this country. Please pray for him as continues to grow in Christ and share the good news with those around him.


Thank you so much everyone for reading this blog and lifting us up to the Father. Our final request is that you will commit to thinking of our friends who came to know Christ- R, King J, and T- along with 48 other people who we deemed to be "seekers" and will be followed up with after we leave. 


It's sad to say goodbye, but we trust that the work the Father has begun here will be completed.

-Tip of the Spear Team

Travel time!

Teams have begun traveling back to the US 
Ready to travel in Manila!
Pray for:
Safety in travel
Good conversations along the way
Rest

Child of God's Pursuit

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  1 Timothy 6:11

Pray for team members to flee from worldly pursuits and instead to chase after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Teams of the Day
UPG Awesome Adventure
Village Home Stay

Country of the Day
Southeast Asia

Encourage one another

One of the villages that Riverboat Team C visited already had a small church established. The pastor would travel four hours away to work as a carpenter during the week, come back late on Saturday, preach on Sunday, and then head out early Monday morning to return to his job. On top of this, the number of people who were coming to the church were dwindling. The pastor and the church were in desperate need of encouragement.

During the week, we were able to go house to house, checking up on members and sharing with those who weren't, helping the pastor's wife with outreach. One of our guys, Carter, offered to preach on Sunday to give the pastor a break... the pastor graciously accepted his offer. During Sunday's service and Carter's preaching I looked over at the Pastor and saw him smiling, truly smiling, while he reached up his hand to wipe his tears. He had not only desperately needed a physical break, but also to be filled with the Word from another believer. He was so encouraged, clapping and dancing with the music. We've learned a lot about our different roles here, encouraging being one of those. We love to see how the Lord is using us to encourage those who really need it.

-Carrie Grace, Riverboat Team

When God wills it...

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs- he wants to please his commanding officer." -2 Timothy 2:3-4

We have to cross the gap in between the island we are staying at and doing ministry. If it's low tide, we walk. If it's high tide, we use any boat available. One day, we came to the dock to find very choppy waves, heavy wind and no boats. We pray and hope for a way to get to these people across the way. Then, almost out of nowhere, are three boats and young men to help us get across the rough water. The Lord made a way for His word to cross over any obstacle! We know Satan didn't want us there, but when God wills it, it gets done.

-Carrie Grace, Riverboat Team

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tell me your story

These past two days have been awesome for our group! We're all very sad that this is our last week, but are encouraged that the Father is still working and still has jobs for us to complete. 

Yesterday, Des and Zack met up with our friend T. This past Sunday she came up to Zack and said "I've heard Des and Allison tell their stories. Can you tell me yours?" When they met yesterday, Zack shared his story of coming to know Jesus Christ and how his life has since changed. The Father used the stories of Zack and his family to speak into T's life and show her that the Father is a constant provider, even in difficult situations.

They also were able to address some disillusionment she had with local "gatherings" and how they had been unwelcoming and cold towards her. It was so neat to hear her give a perfect explanation of what the church should look like.

After talking with her, all 4 of us had an English club at one of the coffee shops by our hotel. They have been a very faithful group and have shown an interest in Christ. Since T is a part of that English club, she asked Charley to tell good story of coming to know Christ and he made the distinction of knowing about Christ and knowing Christ.

That same night, we gained another new brother in the family! His name is R, a 21 year old university student. He had indicated this past Sunday that he'd made a decision to follow Christ. Zack talked with him to gain further insight. After asking probing questions and studying John 4 together, R had made the decision to follow Christ. You can read the prayer he said to the Father.

Today was also an incredible honor because we got to be a part of the "dunking" of R. All 4 of us went to a local swimming pool with R and his roommate and celebrated the new life he was beginning!

Please be praying for T, we can tell the Holy Spirit is working in her. 
Please also be praying for us as we finish out our last few days here strong.

-Tip of the Spear Team


Dolores River Boat Final Ministry Report

I have been avoiding posting about the last week of our ministry because posting about it means it is over and it makes the situation a little more real- we are leaving the Philippines in two days. I am leaving a lot of my heart here on the Dolores river. The Lord has taught me so much and shaped me in so many different ways. Putting all that information into words is impossible.

On the last day in our fourth village, we were able to take an afternoon to travel to the river with a group of believers. At the river we had a picnic and five believers were baptized!God has done amazing work in so many lives. Please continue to pray for this work and growth to continue and that the Bible study that was established will continue! 

This last week of ministry also consisted of following up in the villages we visited during the beginning of the summer. In two days, we visited 3 villages. The past three days we have woken up at 3:45 am, ridden a lot of tractor trailers and boats, and moved our stuff from one barangay hall to the next. Needless to say, we are all so tired, but it has been so worth all the traveling and moving.

In one village we returned to we were allowed to baptize three women. The first two women had accepted Christ when we were in the village, and the third woman was saved when attended an established Bible study after we had already gone.  We praise the Lord for how He is growing and multiplying the gospel in this village! Please pray that people will continue to share to their friends and that more people will come to Christ though this! 

Once we returned to the second village for a follow-up visit, we were immediately asked by the barangay caption if we could have a prayer meeting in the plaza! We walked the village streets inviting people to attend the prayer meeting later that night. Before the prayer meeting, we were able to share some Mountain House meals with some of our friends in the village (they enjoyed the chicken and rice meal, but most of them did not like the American style spaghetti). After eating, we sat out in the street under a street light for our prayer meeting. It was so encouraging to see a lot of believers gathered together. Please pray that this group can stay strong and continue to meet together. The number of believers who regularly attend Bible study has gotten smaller since we left. Please pray that those leading the Bible studies can be encouraged to continue leading.

Finally, we arrived in the third village. This was the village we visited at the beginning of the summer. Several people were in town because of a meeting, so we were not able to follow-up with everyone; however, those who were home came to the prayer meeting. The boys on the team lead a time of encouragement out of the book of Ephesians, and then we had a time of prayer. Please pray that the believers will continue to meet with each other, and that they will continue to have the desire to read and study their Bibles. Saying good-bye at this village was so hard. The reality of it being our last village, our last follow-up, and the last time seeing our friends really hit some of us hard. However, while that is a little sad, we are praising the Lord because we will all meet again one day in Heaven.

-Kara

Lazy & deaf

We shared with an older woman who seemed interested but when we invited her to Bible study, she told us she was too lazy and deaf. That day we prayed God would open up the ears of the deaf, eyes of the blind, and move the feet of the lazy. 

The next morning we arrived at our Bible study and the normal older man who speaks often wasn't there. I was feeling discouraged because of both of these let downs. But, his wife then explained that she had invited friends since he was gone. Turns out that the friend was the older woman from the day before who told us she was too lazy and deaf. She came and heard the truth for the first time! Continue to pray people would be moved to hear the truth.

-Carrie Grace, Riverboat Team

Encouragers

I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.  Hebrews 10:24-25

Pray for team members to be an encouragement to the national partners and to one another.

Team of the Day
Impact Cebu

Country of the Day
Philippines

A Smile or a Laugh Breaks Down Any Language Barrier

On our off day we went to a Christian resort and met the missionary family that runs it. Rachel, the mother, explained to us that she has a special needs child, and invited us to her 20th birthday party with all of the families with special needs children in their barangay.

Each one of us has a special place in our hearts for children with special needs, so we were excited for this opportunity to serve them and their families. Their smiles and sweet spirits were contagious, and being able to see how happy they were was such a huge blessing to us. One thing we are noticing is how universal a smile and a laugh is. No matter what language is being spoken, joy breaks down any barrier.

Pray for these children and their families as they deal with a daily struggle that could be lessened with better healthcare. Rachel is asking us to point her to someone who could donate wheelchairs to the families who are not able to purchase them on their own. Many of these children could have some of their problems lessened if they were able to have access to resources that we take advantage of in America.