Go Now missionaries returning home from a semester of serving around the world sat in a panel discussion across from new students preparing to go during their January retreat in the BSM at the University of Texas at Arlington. The nine college students returning from service were in a time of debriefing, while the eight students preparing to go were part of orientation.
The unique nature of the night was that all of the students in the room had the same heart for sharing Christ with the world.
As the new semester missionaries asked questions like, "What was the hardest thing you faced on the field?" they were able to hear experiences from peers who are processing through the last few months of service.
After the panel discussion, the debriefing missionaries shared stories from their time of service. Photos of friends, streets, landmarks and special moments helped give a visual to the stories being told.
"I learned that gardening is important, but people are the most important," Allyson Polman, from the University of Texas at Arlington, shared after working for a semester in Waco at the World Hunger Farm.
Sharel Gaskey, from Texas Woman's University, and Wayne Garman, from Texas A&M University in Kingsville, spent a semester serving at a coffee shop church in London. Day by day as they made and served coffee to Londoners, they also found ways to share the gospel.
"The name of God is being preached on Brick Lane through this coffee shop," Wayne said. "We could see God move in the lives of those in this cafe."
Morgan Young, from West Texas A&M, served in Central Asia and developed a friendship with a young Muslim girl named Ali. Through their time getting to know each other, they each shared about their faith. Morgan prayed many times for Ali to understand the importance of salvation. Toward the end of her time in Asia, Morgan traveled across the country to visit Ali and she brought a New Testament with her. At times she questioned why she was traveling to see Ali again, but when she gave her the Bible, Morgan realized the importance of the trip.
"Because we went out there, she now has God's word in her language," she shared.
Following the stories, Go Now Director Brenda Sanders had the returning semester missionaries share how many people they led to the salvation. As they went down the line, "Zero" and "None" were common answers.
"Did you hear that?" Brenda asked. "We are sending semester missionaries to hard places where is takes longer to share the gospel. These students faithfully shared and carried on, even when it was hard."
"Go and faithfully share," she encouraged the new students. "Whatever happens, it is God's timing and His plan. You may see fruit while you are there, it may be in the semesters to come, or it might be 30 years from now… . God is trusting you with the hard places."
At the end of the night, the new semester missionaries prayed over those who just returned home. They prayed for the seeds that were planted, for the people in the photos they saw. They prayed for God to continue to the work that He began.
Eight new students look forward to the work God will do in and through them over the next semester; they have been encouraged by the stories of those who have gone before them.
"Life happens while you are gone, but God is glorified through it all," Sharel shared.
For more information about GoNow missions, visit www.gonowmissions.com.