B.B., a student from Texas A&M University, served with Go Now Missions in South Asia this summer.
Well jet lag is a beast. It's currently 5 a.m. and I can't sleep because I've crossed about 11 time zones to get home, but in this quiet darkness when I find myself alone in my living room, what better thing is there to do than think about the wonderful things that my God has done this summer. So this update will be sort of different than my others, for instance it's probably going to be a lot longer because I need to tell you about the events of the past three weeks and then sum up what the Lord has been teaching me this summer. So please bear with me.
So first of all, I want to express to all of you my gratitude. Many of you supported me financially and prayerfully this summer and I would not have made it without either one. I pray that the Lord would bless you for blessing me, and know that you were essential to the success of my trip and the advance of the Kingdom this summer.
So first I want to give you a little briefing about what happened in the last two and a half weeks on the field. I remained at the retreat for Missionaries a couple days after I sent out my last update, then returned home with some itchy feet ready to get back on the road to the places where I felt I was most effective at doing ministry. Unfortunately, that did not happen very quickly as the next two weeks became a constant battle with health. The fact of the matter was that I had several trips lined up, but it seemed like every time we were about to leave the city, that morning I would wake up with a fever or with digestive issues…it was frustrating to say the least.
There was a glimmering moment in the middle of that though when the Lord allowed me out of the city, at least for a short while. I told you in my previous update that I was able the sit in on a meeting of Missionaries who were deciding whether or not to move people groups classifications from unengaged to simply unreached. Well, how they make those decisions is by reviewing field reports done by missionaries doing research or working among those people. My national partner and I were actually given the opportunity to go do research on an unengaged people group that my team had located, but had yet to do any data collection on.
So we traveled to a city about eight hours west of my own in hopes of meeting some of these people who had moved to the city for work. We set out on our trip, heading to the city with no contacts, no set plans and no knowledge of if we were even going to the right place. Along the way we did receive some encouragement by finding out that both the conductor and driver of our bus were believers though! Upon arriving in the city my partner and I set out to find a church, not knowing whether there even was one in this city or not. About thirty steps away from the bus we decided to pray, asking that the Lord would direct our steps. As soon as we looked up from that prayer we were greeted by a young boy who it turned out, knew where a church was. Talk about an instant answer to prayer. By meeting that church we were given a place to sleep that night, lots of information about the people group we were researching and even a two face-to-face meetings with members of that people group. It is amazing how God can lead you if you only ask.
In the last few days of my time on the field I got a fairly unique opportunity, and one that I did not foresee doing when I signed up for this job. I actually was able to go into a recording studio and work with some friends I had met on creating a worship album in their language. Apparently one of the guys I met at the beginning of my trip, back at the start of June, is a producer. I was just singing to myself while we weren't doing anything and he liked my voice, so he asked me to come in and record the English part on a multi-language song that he had written. Who knew that my first interaction with recording music would be in South Asia!
This summer was filled with so much joy and learning that it's really difficult to sum it up with just a paragraph or two, but I will point at the big things that the Lord has taught me though some might be repetitive from previous updates.
The first and most important thing I've learned this summer is that missions have absolutely nothing to do with us, our abilities or our glory; it is completely about the proclaiming of the gospel and discipleship of believers in the most effective way possible. You might remember from my first update that when I signed up for this trip I thought that I would be trekking through the mountains with very few trips back to the city. I thought I would be the one sharing the gospel and I would be the one going to the ends of the earth and the backwoods where no westerner had ever been before. Now I do believe that mindset came from a true desire to serve the Lord, but I admit there might have been a element of selfishness in that mindset and I think it's one that we often can fall into when we go on missions, especially short term ones. I praise God that he had different plans for me when I got to South Asia and I am convinced that training others to share the gospel and spread the name of Jesus was a better use of my time than simply trekking from one village to the next. It is much better for locals to share the gospel than westerners, because locals are the ones who know the culture and language and they are the ones who will spend their entire lives in their country sharing the news. It is much healthier to have a self-sufficient church in those countries than westerners coming in and doing the work for them, because sometimes in good intentions, but bad practices we actually do more harm than good to the local believers. I pray that God would give us the wisdom to serve him and our national brothers and sisters well.
The second thing that the Lord has really stretched me in is my faith. He has put me in many situations I viewed as stressful or frustrating: riding a bus on a dirt mountain road with just a few inches between safety and a shear mountain side; showing up in a city that I had no contacts; no friends and no plans for where to sleep at night but having to rely on him for direction and moments when I felt like everything I was doing was pointless and irrelevant to our goal (you remember the goat story?). Every time God proved himself and he kept telling me, "I've called you here, will I not take care of you?" God is faithful. Trust him.
I would like to ask you all for one more prayer request. This is my last semester of college and I have a lot of decisions to make over the next few months. I am wrestling with which way the Lord is leading me after college; engineering or missions. As I begin to pursue both options, would you ask God if he would lead me and make the right decision seem very apparent? Thank you all, I appreciate all the prayers you have said for me.
I would like to end this final update with a story from my trip to do unengaged people group research, the one I mentioned at the beginning of this update. As I said, we were able to meet two sets of people from this people group. The first was an elderly woman and her daughter, and the second was a young girl about my age. The latter is one I want to tell you about.
We entered a hotel at about 9:30 a.m., guided by a woman from the church we were staying at who also knew a girl from the people group we were trying to learn about. She knocked on a door on the first floor, which was answered by a pretty, young girl about my age. After a few sentences were exchanged, we were ushered into the small hotel room to two seats placed less than two feet away from the bed. We had obviously woken this girl up; her eyes were still watery with the tiredness of sleep, and her roommate, though pulled and nudged repeatedly refused to wake up from her slumber. I felt awkward, feeling like I was breaking several cultural rules all at once. But, it was the national woman who had shown me to my seat, so I gulped down my discomfort and began to ask her questions about herself and her people. We were told that she was working as a maid in the hotel, and had come there a couple years earlier from a village high up in the mountains. She told us that there was a church in the region and people group she was from, going so far as to give us the name of the church leader!
She went on to answer our questions about her home: typical last names in her village; how long of a journey it would be to get there and small phrases in her native language. Once we had exhausted all our questions I turned to my national partner and said to him that he should share the gospel with her. I could tell from the big smile on her face that something was going right during their conversation. After about ten minutes my partner turned to me and said that she said she wanted to follow Jesus. He responded by asking her if she understood what that meant, to which she answered, "I understand, I want to follow." It's a beautiful moment when you get a new sister in Christ, but that moment was made somber by one fact: both this girl's roommate and boss were Christians, but she had never heard the gospel. Now it's easy to judge others for what they do or don't do, but in remembering that day I am convicted of my own apathy when in the States, because there are people I see on almost a daily basis during the school year with whom I have never shared the good news of Jesus Christ.
So I want to challenge you who are Christians to share your faith boldly in your workplace, or at school or at the gym; wherever you know people and they know you. And to those of you who are not Christians, come ask me about my faith. I would love to share with you, because the story of the Jesus Christ rescuing us from our own mistakes is the most important story you will ever hear.