Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I spent 8 weeks this summer in the Philippines. I went with Nehemiah Teams, which is a mission sending organization that sends college-age people to the unreached and hard to reach. The vision of Nehemiah Teams is to lead students to finish the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) in this generation. This organization sends mission teams to the Philippines, Thailand, South Sudan, South Korea, and other countries. There are nanny teams, agriculture teams, riverboat teams, backpacking teams, and a healthcare team. I was on the healthcare team, which included 16 other college students from different parts of the United States. When we got to the Philippines, we were divided into 4 teams of 4 and each team was assigned to a different village, in which we lived for the summer. One of the things we did was perform circumcisions for free. I won't go into detail, but circumcisions in the Philippines are very different than an America. The boys were between 4 and 10 years old. This was a great service to the village because circumcisions are expensive if you go to a health clinic. We used this service as a way to show them the love of God and our love for them. Other than the circumcisions, the only healthcare we did was take blood pressure and bandage minor wounds on children. Our main purpose in living in the village was to share the Gospel and disciple believers. Most of our time was spent doing bible studies with the families we made contact with. We also spent time every night with the kids teaching them songs and telling them bible stories.

The entire healthcare team
My team: Arlin, Melissa, Ross, Rachael, and Jael
Performing a circumcision
Some of the kids after bible story time (we had 20-30 kids every night)
The older couple who we had bible study with almost every morning

I faced many challenges this summer, but God taught me a lot through them. One of the challenges was feeling unproductive. We had a lot of downtime, which made me feel unproductive and lazy, but rest and slow-pace is a part of the culture there. For us to effectively reach these people, we had to adapt to their culture, which meant taking "siesta time" each day and not focusing on time. Another challenge was not being able to see the fruit of our labor. I would get discouraged many times because I could not see the impact we were having, if any at all. We did not always see the results we wanted to see, but God kept reminding me that it is His work, not ours. He also taught me that as long as we are willing, faithful, and obedient, He is going to work, whether we see it or not. I may never see the impact we had on the people in this village, but I have to trust that God used our time there and worked through us.

God taught me a lot this summer. He grew me a lot in my prayer life. I will admit that I have never had a strong prayer life. I have not taken much time to pray, and when I do pray, my prayers are half-hearted and focused on me. I learned more about the importance of prayer and the need for prayer. I also realized that I need to pray more intensely and expectantly and with thanksgiving. My prayers have shifted from self to others (although I still pray for myself). My prayer life is still an area in which I need a lot of growth, but it has definitely changed over the past couple of months. Another thing God taught me was the importance of missions. I have always seen missions as something that is important, but I did not realize how important it is. God's desire is for every person to have a relationship with Him, and He wants to use us to share His love with others. People (especially those who do not have access to the Gospel) are not going to know about God's love and salvation unless followers of Christ tell them. Romans 10:14 says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believe in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Christians have not been saved just for the sake of a secure eternity in Heaven or even just for the sake of having a relationship with Jesus. We have been saved in order that we will go out and tell others about God's free gift of salvation. Sharing God's love and telling others about what He has done should be the purpose of every Christian. Sadly, my selfishness and laziness many times get in the way. But if we truly love God, we will obey His commands and seek to please Him and glorify Him.

There is so much more I could write about this summer, but I don't want to make this post too long. I would encourage any college student to look at Nehemiah teams, and I would encourage every follower of Christ to go on mission trips: short-term and long-term, national and international. God commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. This includes the United States and every other country. You do not have to go on a mission trip to fulfill this command. We should be obeying it every day here at home, but we should also be involved in foreign missions by going on mission trips, supporting others to go, praying for those who are going, and reaching internationals here in America. How are you fulfilling the Great Commission?

1 comment:

Claire said...

Loren, it is so good to hear about some of your summer. I know you could just go on and on forever about all the amazing things you did/saw, what God did in and through you! So proud of you for going. NT is a great organization. Thanks for sharing!
BTW, I sure do miss you! :)