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Letter to the Editor
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Philippines mission trip revered

There I was sitting on a plane flying thousands of feet above the Pacific Ocean. It was early in the morning and most everyone around me was asleep. I closed me eyes and silently thanked God for the adventure I was about to embark on.

This occurred over the summer, when I had the privilege to go on a missions trip to the Philippines. This was my second time traveling to the Philippines, and it turned out to be an experience I will not soon forget.

Church group commissions, partakes in overseas service

Our team was made up of 14 high school students and four adults from Campus Bible Church. We served alongside a Filipino church on the island of Mindoro.

We partnered with an organization called Threads of Hope, a ministry that gives poverty-stricken families the chance to earn money by making bracelets and necklaces out of thread. This has been a liberating option for those parents who were once forced to put their children into prostitution in order to put food on the table.

One of the main purposes of our mission was to share the love of God to kids through Vacation Bible School (VBS). My main role during VBS was to perform gospel magic shows each night. I loved drawing the kids in through illusions while at the same time sharing the gospel with them. These Filipino kids were enthralled by the magic. After I had finished showing them a trick they would all exclaim “One more! One more!” I would eventually give in and show them something else only to have them say, “Just one more! Last one!”

The kids found joy in the simplest things, and especially liked playing games. Whether it be arm wrestling or duck duck goose, they played with all their might. Despite living in utter poverty, these kids were happy and playful. Their smiles warmed our hearts and, as we ministered and interacted with the children, love broke down the language barrier.

One of my favorite things about a missions trip is the bonding that occurs within the group. When you eat, serve, travel and interact with a group of people for 12 days you really get to know them. It is eye-opening to see Christians in a setting other than church. Whether it be hiking through the jungle mountaintops or worshiping on the beach, our team grew in our unity.

Evangelizing leads to spiritual growth

About halfway into the trip I began to feel disappointed with my attempts at sharing the gospel. I would evangelize to Filipinos but it didn?t seem like I was getting through to them. Later that night, my youth pastor asked me how I was doing. I was honest with him as I shared that I had been discouraged. He sympathized with me and God used him to comfort me through scripture. I came away encouraged with the realization that it is God?s job to bring about salvation; all I need to do is be obedient and faithful in sharing the message. The gospel has and always will be ?the power of God for salvation?(Romans 1:16).

A few days later, God gave me great joy in seeing people come to believe in Jesus. The previous day, we evangelized on the beach by playing interactive games with whoever we could find. A group of beach vendors came around and participated in some of the games. Most of these vendors were Muslim, so we invited them to come to church the next day to play basketball with us.

Sure enough, the next morning, a big group of them came to play. We played five on five basketball: U.S. versus Philippines. Afterward, our Filipino host pastor shared the gospel with them, and seven people prayed to receive Christ! I was so joyful to see salvation come to these people.

Throughout the entire trip I was looking for a certain friend that I had met last year. He is a vendor who I had helped lead to Christ on my last missions trip.

During the second to last day of the trip I was able to meet up with him. I was very eager to hear how he was doing and where he was at with God. Many of us had been praying for him throughout the year. Sadly, as I talked to him, I got the impression that he was not walking with the Lord. This was very hard for me because I had really hoped that he would be growing in his relationship with God. I think that he initially accepted Christ, but he had no solid foundation on which to stand; he didn’t really know what it means to be a Christian.

I haven?t given up on my friend. The good news is that he has been to church once or twice. In fact, he knows the pastor of the church we served with. I urged him to spend time in church so he could learn more about his faith. He needed to be around Christ-followers who could show him truth. Even though it was hard for me to initially handle, I thank God that I had the opportunity to meet my friend again.

Encouragement for fellow Christians

Now that the trip is over I look back and praise God for how he worked through me and my team. It was just a few years ago that I was utterly afraid of evangelizing. I would deliberately skip over the verses in the Bible that called Christians to share the gospel. I feared rejection and discomfort, but through a series of events God vastly changed my attitude. I began having a passion for the lost and I became excited to share the good news. The Holy Spirit opened up my eyes to the beauty and glory of the gospel.

I still struggle with the fear of rejection, but God is working on me. He is faithful. I want to encourage Christians to get involved in a missions trip. According to global statistics there are 2.83 billion individuals in the world who are considered “unreached.” These people have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. There are billions more hurting people who desperately need to be shown God’s love with skin on.

There are plenty of churches that are sending out Christians on short term missions around the world, for they are greatly needed. People need not worry about feeling inadequate, they just need to be obedient. Throughout the Bible we see God using the most unlikely people to accomplish great things for his glory. He delights in using those humble people who feel like they have nothing to offer. People need to prayerfully consider how they can get involved in spreading the love of God to the nations.

For more columns, read the August 25 article,
Summer camp provides spiritual growth, ministry

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    Tynin FriesNov 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Congratulations! That is soo awesome; I am proud of you. I want to go see this with my own eyes, but from this picture it looks great!