MISSIONS UPDATE: 6/28/15
As I believe most of you know, I had the great and amazing privilege last June, of serving on the island of Panay, with a small group of missionaries from Cedarville, Ohio. In sharing about this trip, I would like to first thank each and every one of you who helped to make that trip possible through your donations, and prayers. I cannot tell you how blessed I was, and still am, by your immense generosity and support. Going to Panay, Philippines last year was my very first time traveling out of the United States to share my faith. Being a missionary has been the desire of my heart since first coming to know Jesus, but it always seemed out of my reach. I didn’t know if I would really ever have the opportunity to share the love of Christ in another country, or to make large steps of faith. Just before hearing of the missions trip to the Philippines, I had been finishing up a 1 month devotional called “One Month To Live” that had really been working on my heart, and convicting me to do more in my walk with Christ. The book asked the question “What would you do if you only had 1 month left to live?” The writer emphasized the importance of living each and every day as though it were our last, and to glorify the Father with every breath we have, and to live a full life for Him with as few regrets as possible. During the entire study I kept thinking of the desire I had to share my faith more boldly, and to place myself in situations to stretch and grow me to become more courageous in Christ. I thought of all of the times I had felt prompted to do more, say more, help more, but had held back thinking “I don’t have the time” or “that might be awkward”. Made me feel sad, and wonder how God could have used me if I had just been willing, and had made myself available. I prayed that day, and all the rest of that next month that God would give me more opportunities, and give me the faith and boldness to do what was right this time around. He did just that. It was not long after, that a good friend mentioned to me that he was attending a missions meeting and invited me to go. At that meeting I heard stories of the great needs of the people of the Philippines, and the hunger there is in that country for the Gospel. I felt God tugging at my heart…I thought “This is a pretty big step out of my comfort zone. Bigger than I had counted on.” But knew that there was no more holding back 🙂 A quote from my devotional came to my mind: “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are for.” Needless to say, I signed up. From literally that day on, I was just assured over and over again that God was with me every step of the way, preparing everything. Nothing was lacking. God worked so much in me through the process of preparation for that trip, and while I was away. For the very first time I was able to experience what it meant to step out alone in faith just with the Father as my friend and Confidant.
One thing that came as a surprise to me when I was on the Island, was the poverty and immense need everywhere. It seemed that we could work from sun up to sun down, and just barely be chipping away. Yet every step of progress was so satisfying, and felt like such success! Another thing that was very heartbreaking to see was how many children were just roaming around on their own, half dressed or even naked, some In the city we passed could be seen digging through trash dumps, obviously homeless and looking for anything edible or possibly useful that could be found. I wanted to just snatch them all up and take them home to live with me! But I was told that I wasn’t allowed :,( Throughout the trip, there were so many things that changed my perspective of what the word “Need” really means.
But even more so than that, I was reminded of what the true meaning of “Joy” is. I have never in all of my life seen a more joyful group of believers than the poverty stricken Filipino families I met. I’m not sure that I saw a single man woman or child who did not have a smile plastered to their face, welcoming us with open arms. They didn’t come to us asking for money, or seem ashamed at the little they had. What they did say however, was “Show us how to fix this, or build this and we will do it ourselves.” They are hard working people. Joyful workers. There was no hint of jealousy or envy, that could be seen in their eyes.
Though truth be told I had more pesos in my pocket at that moment (first time setting foot in their country) than I’d wager much of the villagers combined together. Just Joy. That is all that could be seen in their faces. I was so convicted by that! Reminded of how much more thankful I should be.
I have so much that I should be thanking Jesus for daily. So much that I should be sharing with others. The way that the church family there opened their arms to us, humbly and graciously, served as a great lesson for me. They wanted to share with us everything they had. The best of their food, the best of their homes (bamboo homes mostly :)…) They are true examples of what it means to be a cheerful giver.
Though the Gospel is spreading rapidly, there is still much to do. Many churches to build, and pastors to encourage, orphans to care for, and families to feed. I am so excited to be able to Lord willing, share these experiences with my sister and best buddy Callie Grace 🙂 I am so looking forward to seeing how God works in and through both of us on this journey. Thanks so much for your prayers and support!
I love you all.