I didn't become a follower of Jesus Christ until my sophomore year of college. I thought I was "Christian enough" by claiming I had a personal relationship with Jesus and going to church every Sunday. It turns out that I was the epitome of the American Christian and didn't actually know what the Gospel was or even the significance of Christ dying for me. After being introduced to our college ministry, the Holy Spirit convicted me and opened my eyes to see that I wasn't representing Christ, but actually hindering others to see who Christ really is.
The Great Commission was a foreign concept to me that only applied to "those who were called" to go overseas. It turns out that everyone is actually called to go everywhere, and I'm not excluded from obeying this. The first time I was lead to pursue international missions was at Collegiate Week in Glorieta, NM in 2013. It wasn't really a "leading" as much as a "pushing" by the Holy Spirit because I was not compliant to go, and I was afraid of what the future had in store for international missions. But God is sovereign and His will be done!
Fast forward to July of 2015. I was applying to go to East Asia for Christmas. I was a broke college student who asked friends, family, and strangers to provide means for me to go overseas. I wouldn't necessarily say God "called" me to go to this country; I would say that he didn't prohibit me from going. This should be our mindset when pondering the question, "where is God calling me to go?" He provided, through friends and family, the means in which I could travel to Asia. Part of the international mission experience is preparing to leave, not the trip itself. There's an immense joy that comes when meditating on the fact that you can be the means God uses to bring someone to salvation through the Gospel in a country where it's forbidden. There is great joy when you are forced to rely on Him to not only provide, but to pull you through situations that aren't necessarily "safe". There's also an unmatched joy when we get out of our American bubble and experience the diversity of God's creation while sharing His mission with other like-minded believers.
I've got to admit, when I was in Asia the food tasted weird, it was polluted, and it was extremely difficult to break under the superficial mindset of Asian university students. I had never felt more inadequate to share the Gospel to strangers, and at times I wanted to say it was a waste of $3,000. But God, and his unfailing faithfulness, was able to use me and my team to bring 11 students to be saved in under 2 weeks. It was extremely humbling and powerful to see the diversity of our group work in different ways to interact with the students there and to be able to share Jesus. Some of us played sports, others would go shopping, and others would eat. It doesn't require skill to go overseas and share the Gospel.
My initial thought after the trip was that I wanted to go home and eat Chick-fil-a and some chocolate. I was uncomfortable in Asia the entire time, and I got homesick after two weeks of being gone. I'm not saying that it's easy to go overseas, but it is definitely worth it! I've made lifelong friends who were on our team from different states and they're going back this year to spread the meaning of Christmas again and to follow up with those who accepted Christ. This trip has been an affirmation to my pursuit in long term international missions in the near future!"
This is Lauren's story. Her experience changed her perspective and changed the lives of those she encountered on mission. Who might you challenge to serve this summer?
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