Lessons From The Field: Bangkok, Thailand

Before attending Mercy Hill Church, I thought that mission trips only involved groups of people heading to Haiti to build as many houses as they could in a short period of time. I never thought that it may involve being “sent out” to different corners of the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ. My team and I were fortunate enough to travel to the incredible city of Bangkok, Thailand.

Our mornings were spent doing prison ministry and our evenings were spent teaching English at the Baptist Student Center. My favorite day involved attending the women’s prison, where we bonded with inmates through ice-breaker games, shared personal testimonies and a message from the Bible, and prayed over the women. This was the structure we followed for our time there but at the boys’ juvenile detention center, I was responsible for sharing my own story.

I am not generally one to talk about myself–let alone what I was like before, during, and after dedicating my life to Jesus–so standing in front of 50+ boys, all of whom spoke Thai and were covered in tattoos, made me nervous. I heavily relied on God to keep me standing and mask the speed at which my hands were shaking in order to get through it. After I finished, I looked at the boys and was reminded that although I am a white girl from the United States, our lives are related because we all came from the same God.

Another incredible experience was visiting a refugee prison, where people were imprisoned because they outstayed their visas from Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The only time these individuals were allowed to leave their cells was when people like us went in as a group and called them out to talk with us by name. During this hour of reprieve, we got to hear their stories and pour the Gospel into their lives. Some of the people had fled their home countries for being Christians and were working from the inside to help those who felt discouraged and hopeless after being behind bars for going to drastic measures to flee their home countries. 

At night, we helped students practice their English by having simple conversations and explaining why we had traveled across the world to teach English. We had unforgettable conversations with many different people–some Christians, but many Buddhists as well.

Through this experience, I learned that the Lord’s plans are far greater than anything we can picture and we just have to continue chasing after Him to see how He wants to use us while we’re on this earth. If you told me five years ago I would head to Greensboro, New York City, and Bangkok to tell strangers that Jesus is the Way and the Truth, I would have laughed at you.

Additionally, Thailand needs your prayers. After experiencing everything first-hand, I have a newfound appreciation for the people of Thailand and the amazing full-time missionaries. I long for the chance to go back, but until then, I will talk about it as much as possible, so people see the global need for Jesus. My biggest takeaway from this summer was learning how to be bold with strangers across the world so that I might be even bolder with family and friends. 

— Olivia Young (City Project Student)

Stories from the Field: Lesvos, Greece (Part 2)

This summer a Mercy Hill City Project team traveled to Greece to work in a refugee camp alongside the Harter family. You can read a previous post from one student’s perspective on the trip here. In this post, read the Harters’ take on the trip.


You’ve seen them in the movies; the discovery of an alternate reality or another dimension, or some kind of time travel that causes a strange shift in the world as we know it; a shift for the worse. Our family experienced this firsthand.

We traveled to a place that was very similar to one of these dystopian realities. A place where wealth doesn’t determine your lot in life. A place where sharing a room with a dozen other people crammed wall-to-wall is the norm, even if it was designed for only 6 people. A place where eating nothing but rice, cheese, and beans prepared in various ways twice a day is considered nutritious. A place where one liter of water per person on a day topping out around 95-100 ˚F (35-38 ˚C) is “enough”. A place where dangerous riots and fires can and do happen at any time due to the high tensions of so many people in such a small place. A place that is surrounded and divided by high fences with razor wires. A place that cannot be completely comprehended until you are standing in the middle of it. This alternate reality was at the Moria immigrant camp on Lesvos Island in Greece. And this reality is duplicated in dozens, if not hundreds, of other locations around the world.

Our family and a small team from Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, NC spent two weeks working in Moria camp in July. The Greek government relies on a private volunteer organization, which schedules 25+ volunteers a day to keep the camp running and organized. It is job that seemingly should be done by the Greek or EU government. We did things like general repairs, tent building, food distribution, gate monitoring, garbage collecting, housing coordination, census taking, guiding or carrying people to the doctor, and pretty much anything else that was needed. We also had the opportunity to talk to the people in the camp and listen to their struggles of leaving their war torn countries with the hopes of a better and safer life for their family. We also shared our own stories and the hope that we’ve found in Jesus.

The people coming to Moria are from all over the Middle East, Africa, and beyond. The last unofficial count in May showed that over 40 countries were represented by immigrants in Moria. They come by boat illegally from Turkey or are sent across by smugglers who charge around $1000 per person.

The people from Syria are clearly the ones that are being granted asylum and “refugee” status quicker than anyone else due to their ongoing civil war that has no clear or easy solution. The Syrians coming now are more and more women, children, and families as opposed to the prior influx of mainly single men. They arrive in shock, are taken to a temporary camp near the beach for dry clothes, food, and water, and are then taken by bus to the Moria camp. There they are put into a large tent that holds up to 100 people in bunks for a day or two in order to be processed and seen by a doctor. After that, the volunteer organization, EuroRelief, helps get them into housing where they’re added to already full iso-boxes (like shipping containers with doors and windows) or tents. They’re given a sleeping bag, a mat, a blanket, a bag of hygiene items and a set of clothes to get them started.

From there it is a long process of waiting and hoping and more waiting. Each immigrant individual or family group has an interview to determine if they qualify for asylum. This process for some can take months. And for many, they are rejected and told that they have to go back to their home country. This is especially true for some of the African countries that are considered “safe” and has been the cause of some of the riots: the apparent inequality of how people from different countries are treated. And it is true–some nationalities are given higher priority–but how else could it be done when there are such differences in why people are trying to immigrate to Europe? There really appears to be no perfect answer or way to handle the situation. Nonetheless, we were not there to provide answers, only to provide immediate love and support for people who have had their worlds turned upside down in a very short period.

What we saw in this alternate reality is that our daily struggles, concerns for well-being, health, and security are nothing in comparison to the daily lives of these people. It was a hard place to be. Just seeing the difficulty and despair and comparing that to our personal lives was overwhelming. However, we also witnessed great joy and happiness. We saw kids laughing and playing in relative safety. We observed mothers who were so thankful to be off a dangerous boat, escaping untold dangers, and who were just happy to have a place to sleep with their children.

Toward the end of our time there, we got to see a mother and two children, who had been hospitalized with scabies earlier in the week, move past their first major hurdle as they were transported to Athens to continue their journey to Sweden. We experienced something that was dangerous, beautiful, ugly, hard, and joyful all at the same time. Why? Because we believe that God called us to be at that place at that specific time. It wasn’t because we are special and more empathetic than other people. We did it out of obedience and love and because we can see the love that God has for us–and it is enough for us to share with others.

For more information on Gene & Melissa’s ministry in Europe and how to partner with them, click here

Lessons From The Field: Peru

My name is Kirk Needham, and I have been attending Mercy Hill Church for a little over a year now. Last February I was talking to some friends about my interest in going international to do mission work. After talking with them, they referred me to a thing called “City Project.” City Project is an 8-week mission trip through Mercy Hill where you get to spend a week in New York City, 4 weeks in Greensboro, and then 2 weeks internationally.

Peru

For the international part of City Project, I got to go to Peru. Going into this trip, myself and the five others that were going with me did not know what to expect. The only thing we had were the stories from a few people that went before us in past years. However, it seemed like everyone’s stories about Peru were different. We didn’t know what part of Peru we would be staying in, what we would be doing while we were there, what the weather would be like, or what we needed to take with us. We found out four days before we left that we were going to be teaching English and abstinence at schools in the mountainous jungles to a people group called the Yanesha. Still, there were so many things we did not know about the trip so we really had to have faith in the Lord and know that He would provide.

Once we landed in Peru, we took a ten-hour bus ride through the Andes Mountains. The landscape and scenery was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Being able to see God’s creation and how he had strategically placed things was really cool. We saw animals and birds that you only get to see in movies. We were able to stay in the jungle for ten days visiting schools in three different villages.

Each day we would teach classes from 8-1:30, go get lunch, and then come back to the school and play games with the students in the area.

My Biggest Takeaway

One of the biggest takeaways for me was being able to see how people in a third world country went about their daily lives. I now feel so blessed to have the life that I do. It is a blessing to have food on the table every night, clean and safe water to drink, and electricity among many other things. The first Sunday we were there, we spent the entire day traveling; but on the second Sunday, we actually got to visit a church in the area. Being able to go to that service was amazing. It lasted over four hours because the people there did not want us to leave. People from miles away walked just to be there with us that day. Being able to see what God has done with that small church and the pastors leading the church was very encouraging.

The World is Hungry for the Word

On the ten-hour bus ride back down the mountains, we all looked back and felt comfort in the visible work that the Lord has been doing in Peru and the experience we were able to go through. In just two weeks, we were able to see multiple people come to Christ and surrender everything to the Lord. Many people in Peru believe in spirits and other forms of magic, which oftentimes leaves people living in fear. Because of this, it was exciting for them to hear the gospel because  that meant they wouldn’t have to live in fear and could have comfort in the Lord. Looking back, I am able to see how open people are to the gospel and how badly they want to hear the Word–they just need people like us to come and share. That opportunity is the only thing stopping them from becoming Christians, so the responsibility falls on those of us who are already Christians to go spread the Word and bear fruit. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about doing something like this—whether going to Peru or another country—to just do it. Even starting here in the United States is significant! There are people all around the world that need to hear the gospel.

Kirk Needham (City Project Student)

Can Short-term Teams Really Maximize Long-term Ministry?

When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold   is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. 

“Can short-term teams really maximize long-term ministry?” was a question recently raised by Carlos and Meredith Block, our long-term field partners who live in Peru. This year, Mercy Hill has sent two short-term teams, one short-term intern, and will send another team in September to work with them. Read how the Block’s answer their own question in their most recent newsletter:


Our answer is YES, but ministry effectiveness is directly related to several factors:

Pre-trip preparation: Communication with team on site, praying together, getting to know one another, preparing to teach, and planning outreach events sets teams up for effective ministry. 

Attitude: An attitude of service and flexibility focused on long term relationships and goals is the “being” behind the “doing.”

Ministry: Trusting the Lord and giving Him the glory in all things (even scary and uncomfortable situations) can yield fruit that will last. 

Three teams have joined us since we wrote two months ago, and two more are on the way! These friends demonstrated the above qualities, and as the Lord worked, great things happened.

Mercy Hill Church

Mercy Hill (NC) team visited an indigenous school. Casey, John, Caroline and Jack came well prepared to teach in K-12 for four days. Students heard the Genesis-Jesus story, as well as learning their colors in English. The week ended with a pinning ceremony for class officers, a special school supplies gift for each student, and a trip to the river.

Northeast Bible Church

Part of the Northeast Bible team (TX) built the second floor on the first training center building, while others shared in schools, with local women’s groups, and kids’ clubs. They had a special opportunity to visit a community affected by recent flooding. The team was overwhelmed by their hospitality and encouraged them in their rebuilding process.

Mercy Hill – City Project

Mercy Hill’s City Project College Team served for ten days in three high schools, sharing about Biblical Sexuality and using English to build bridges. They had the unique opportunity to be a part of Achievement Day as indigenous students shared what they’d learned this semester. This was yet another opportunity to plant more seeds and pray for future fruit.

How have teams helped us?

In Numbers: There are only two of us at the moment! Teams bring new faces, energy, and opportunities to introduce our indigenous friends to believers both from the US and other parts of Peru giving a broader picture of the body of Christ.

Reaching Children: Teams who work with youth show their love by spending time with them, having fun and sharing truth.

Encouragement: The indigenous often feel isolated and invisible, but when visitors come, they feel encouraged and affirmed, and their hospitality shines.

Reaching High schoolers: “You attract what you are.” Younger testimonies of salvation and life with Christ have a unique impact in school settings. Women connect with women, as do the men on the construction site.

Mobilizing Prayer: As the Brooke Fraser song says, “now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Strengthening the Indigenous Church: All of this outreach is planting seeds to mobilize the indigenous church to extend His Kingdom. 


Are you next? 

Mercy Hill is committed to sending teams and individuals to partner with the Blocks to make disciples among the indigenous people of Peru. It’s not too late for women of Mercy Hill to go with us as we train and encourage the indigenous natives this September. 

Bryan Miller (Connections/Missions Director)

Lessons From The Field: India

To close out our summer doing City Project–an 8-week long internship and training series designed to teach college students how to share the gospel and make disciples–we headed out on our international trips and my team was headed for India!

After over a full day of travel, we finally arrived and began embracing the culture we were going to be a part of for two weeks. Lots of things were new and different: the food was spicier (so spicy one of our team members got 4 nosebleeds while we were there), the cows roamed free all through the street, and there seemed to be no rules when it came to driving. Even though we were thousands of miles away from home, two things were the same, and always will be the same no matter where we go: God’s desire to seek and save the lost and His power to do so.

I had never been a part of any kind of international missions trip before and when I think about my perspective before going to India, I see now that I didn’t fully understand God’s global mission. Until we went to India I unconsciously viewed God as the “God of the United States,” not as the God of the universe. But the truth is there is no difference in God’s power when it comes to saving me or saving an Indian woman. We are both just as dead in our sins and in equally desperate need of a savior.

We explored the city on our first full day, which brought us to the largest Muslim mosque in Asia. We joined a group of about 15 Hindu girls and our leader, Greta, quickly moved the conversation in a spiritual direction. Before I knew it, she said, “Madison, do you want to share with them what we believe?” I was totally thrown off guard but this is what the entire summer had prepared me for, so I shared the gospel with them. Being our first day and first encounter, it really gave me the confidence I needed to share with any woman I came into contact with over the next two weeks. We would later visit museums, temples, malls, and parks–seeking out people to talk to and share with.

Each morning we took turns leading devotions for our team and when it was my turn, I shared Psalm 40, which is probably my favorite passage in the Bible. I really harped on verse 10 which says “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” I said that when we get on the plane to go home, when our two weeks there were finished, I wanted us to be able to look back and confidently declare this verse over our time in India–that we held nothing back and shared the gospel every chance we got. This verse became our marching orders and spurred us on to do just that. By the grace of God, our team shared with over 100 people, most of whom had never heard the gospel before. Praise God!

Before this trip, my view of God wasn’t big enough. After hearing of the miracles He is doing in India, I know now that my prayers weren’t big enough either. We claim to believe in a God who is all-powerful, but if we don’t pray or act as if He is, we aren’t viewing Him rightly and we’re robbing Him of glory He deserves. Not only is God moving in mighty ways in India, but He was also moving through the other City Project teams in Peru, Greece, Thailand, and Spain.

God desires to make disciples of all nations, and we’re called in Matthew 28 to go and join Him on this mission. I can do that on my college campus and I can do that in another country. The stories we have from our time abroad are endless, but the common theme between them all is simply this: God is the faithful, loving, all powerful Creator of the universe and He is moving. 

— Madison Yates (City Project Student)

Stories from the Field: Lesvos, Greece

At first, when we got the assignment for Greece, we were a little bummed. Our initial thoughts were “Oh great, a trip to Europe. I thought missions was supposed to be hard?” The ego of a 20-something is a beautiful thing, is it not? But when we were told that we’d be working in a refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, it felt like we would be doing real missions. We were educated on the refugee crisis as much as possible by the partnering missionaries there and told to be flexible, seeing as how we had little to no expectations of what we would experience on arrival.

We partnered with Greater European Mission, which operates under the umbrella of Euro Relief, to serve in the camp. Euro Relief is one of the only Christian organizations left working in the overpopulated prison-turned-refugee-camp that has not lost funding. To understand the overall climate inside, imagine a place surrounded by tall fences with barbed wire, guarded gates, exhausted living space, limited funds, volunteer laborers, and desperate people. And amidst this difficult environment exist people who represent every race/ethnicity, political belief, status of wealth, and religion all squeezed onto an island recovering from economic collapse and slow asylum processes. Regardless, this is where Christ had called us to go as his hands and feet.                                                                                                          

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew25: 35-36& 40

Our days were broken up into 8-hour shifts where we would pass out basic needs like food, clothing, and means of shelter. Much of our time was also spent monitoring the different section gates to make sure the right people got to the right places, but the language barriers made it difficult to communicate, so we did our best to learn what we could of Arabic, Farsi, French, and Kurdish. Seeing the desperation in a mother’s eyes in need of formula for her child, families sleeping on top of each other in a tent, a man in need of a blanket on a chilly night, or the clever bartering of children to get more food didn’t require a common language to be understood. But even with all of this, it was there at the gates that we built relationships and had spiritual/gospel conversations.

Carefully we began talking about Christ and the message of reconciliation in this majority-Muslim, male population. There could be no record of our conversations or the Greek military could remove Euro Relief from serving the people, which would leave the people without any long-term missions organizations. In two conversations with two different men, we could see the work God was doing in Lesvos. One man who had landed on the conclusion that his labor for Allah would be enough to guarantee his paradise still conversed with us for an hour over the holes in his eternal hopes. The other man openly prayed in the wee hours of the morning with one of the City Project interns asking to learn more about Jesus. Praise God! Lastly, on our second Sunday, we prayed for God to move in Greece and got the chance to worship among the people in an off-site church. We sang in French and Arabic, which was such a taste of heaven.

These explicit glimpses of how God is in control of the refugee crisis sustained us in moments where it felt hopeless. On a day when we were not in the camp, we visited what is known as the “life jacket graveyard” in the neighboring town of Molyvos. In this landfill lay thousands of life jackets, boats, rubber boats, and tires refugees had used to make the dangerous cross by night from Turkey. Suddenly we could see a visual representation of all the heartbrokenness and depravity that had come from this war; how the side effects of sin had brought so much pain; and how our own sin was no better than the sin that had led to this crisis. Looking at those piles of rubble was like staring in our own hearts. In that moment I was grateful for a Savior who has the power to save those who had caused a lifejacket graveyard to exist in the same way that He can save me.

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:16

Psalm 46 was the scripture we held onto in the many moments of grief. Through ethnic riots, evacuations, fires, ambulance rides, and other difficult moments, we were reminded that our God is sovereign and we were encouraged to see Euro Relief so strategically placed, acting as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Was it safe? No! But it is where we were called to go and I hope we will continue to go to hard places so that Christ may be glorified.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (10-11).”

Lessons From the Field – Camp L’Arcada, Spain

Typically, the best stories have a hero—someone who has risen to the top and is now at the center of all the action—and let’s face it, that is most often the fairy tale we like to live in or, at the very least, imagine when thinking about the life we want to live. But the greatest thing we learned as a team this summer is that a mission trip is not about our story. Instead, our story fits into a much greater story of redemption, one that is worth traveling over 5,000 miles to tell.

My team and I served at Camp L’Arcada, also known as Indian camp, in Spain for the past two weeks alongside counselors and 95 kids ages 3 to 12 years old. No one on our team was completely fluent in Spanish, so the language barrier propelled us into an incredible opportunity—to love without sharing eloquent sentences and the challenge to encourage without speaking powerful words. We didn’t have much of a common language—the one thing you usually need in order to build relationships—but in that, we learned there are some things that are universal and don’t need to be translated: laughter, tears, high fives, hugs & serving. Indian camp in Spain may seem like a weird concept at first, especially in the middle of the Pyrenees mountains, but it offers a unique way to share life in the form of stories. The country of Spain is hardened to the gospel, however, when told in the form of a story, barriers are broken and lives can be transformed.

The greatest definition of humility is this– not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less. In two words, that is what my team and I learned over the past two weeks: humble servanthood. Because let me be the first to tell you that cleaning one bathroom for over 130 people is not glamorous, drying the 400th cup can get pretty old, and scraping food off of 130 plates does not smell great. In those moments, we had to think about ourselves less and focus on the ones we were serving and the One we serve. We were intentionally paving a smoother path for the gospel to be shared. We had the opportunity to pray for and over those that would be sharing the gospel throughout the week, to love the 95 campers well, and create the picture of a body of Christ—one body with many parts. We were the hands and feet while others were the mouth. We were the backbone of support, and at the end of the day, a group of 20 Spaniards became family.

The gospel was shared through words and, for our team, through actions. L’Arcada is reaching Spain one child at a time through camps and gathering them around to tell the greatest story ever told—that the Son of God would leave His place in Heaven to come down and die for me and you; that He would dare to enter into this broken world for my heart which is even dirtier than that camp bathroom on a good day; that He looked beyond himself to his children and stayed on a cross until he could cry “it is finished”. Because the One who knew no wrong took the penalty for us, we can rise from the ashes of defeat to victory. Now there’s a shocking story worth telling.

That is the reason we cleaned, swept, lead activities, and loved Spanish children—because it wasn’t about us, and it never will be. It is about the One who knew we couldn’t reach relationship with God on our own so He emptied himself and became a servant—the best model of humble servanthood we could ever know—to become the greatest story we could ever be a part of, and most definitely tell.

— Kristen Schleich (College Team)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature with God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Phillipians 2:4-8

 

Stories from the Field: Mikel

(Names have been changed to protect identities)

After walking in the heat of the Southeast Asian sun, listening to the echoing adhan from the mosque calling the people of the city to prayer, we sat down in a local mamak for a refreshing lime drink along with some roti canai – a flat bread filled with sweetened condensed milk.

 

I sat across the table from Mikel – a young man with a radiant smile across his face – and I asked him to tell me his story. He began by talking of his father. As a boy, his admiration for his dad was unsurpassed. Mikel tried to imitate his dad in every way. He wanted to sit like his dad, eat like his dad, and talk like his dad. Mikel’s greatest ambition was to be like his dad.

Mikel had not seen his father for several months because he had moved to another country to further his education. Mikel had also come under the influence of his aunt, Amme. She too had left their home country but for different reasons. Both the authorities and their family had threatened Amme’s life when she converted from Islam to Christianity. Amme shared her faith with Mikel and it drove him to begin reading Scripture for himself. Mikel learned that Amme’s pastor in their home country had been captured and tortured, yet the only words he would speak before his persecutors were: “Father, forgive them.” Those words were staggering, but not original. They had been uttered by Jesus on the cross as well as Stephen at his death in Acts 7. Such forgiveness and love convinced Mikel that Jesus is the one true God.

But what would Mikel’s father think of him now? It took months for Mikel to have the courage to tell his father he is now a Christian. When he did, his father said, “If you have decided to be a Christian, then you are no longer my son.” Mikel was rejected by the man he had admired his entire life.

As we finish the last few pieces of roti canai, Mikel’s countenance becomes solemn. He shares that in a few weeks he must return to his home country. He is certain he will face ridicule and persecution, but uncertain to what degree. Nevertheless he is committed to share with his fellow countrymen the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

A few days later as our team gathered with believers from multiple nations, we sang the following words:

     I have decided to follow Jesus
     No turning back
     No turning back

     The cross before me
     The world behind me
     No turning back
     No turning back

For Mikel, there is a certain cross before him. With a sound mind, he has said ‘no’ to comforts and securities of this world in order to follow Jesus. Why? Because Mikel’s testimony is echoed in the following words of the song:

     Christ is enough for me
     Christ is enough for me
     Everything I need is in You
     Everything I need[1]

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— Philippians 3:7-9 (ESV)

Bryan Miller (Connections/Missions Director)

 

[1] Christ is Enough by Hillsong Worship

4 Ways to Pray for Our City Project Students

Imagine for a moment that every “gospel-touch” you’ve ever had during your life was gone. Anything seemingly Jesus-related . . . gone—no Bible, no community, no churches. For many of our students, these are the places they are going. Over the next two weeks, our students will be in Peru, Spain, Greece, Thailand, and India. This isn’t the case for every country, but it is the case for people in every country we are sending students. Our students will see the faces of spiritual and physical poverty. There is so much need.

As they prepare there are several things that they need. Some of them will need to bring their own supply of toilet paper, others need camping gear, and most of them need converters and adapters for their electronics. However, there is something they need much more. They need God to move. More than anything else our students need you to ask God to move in their prospective countries. They need your prayer.

Ephesians 3:20 says,Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Here are a few things you can be praying for our students, and then pray for MORE:

  1. Pray our students would be reminded of the gospel.

Our students are only able to share the great hope of the gospel because they have seen the beauty of the gospel. In Mercy Hill College, our vision statement is that we want to see “students who understand the gospel and live out of the gospel because they truly believe the gospel.” If our students are not captivated by the way they have been brought from death to life, they will not desire to share this truth with others. Pray they would recount the marvelous deeds of the Lord that they have seen in their own lives.

  1. Pray that the Lord would open the hearts of the people our students will meet.

So often we confine God to the limits of a mere man rather than expecting him to be God. Pray expectantly that the Lord would prepare people in each of these countries to hear and believe the gospel and go on to make other disciples. Pray that students would return to the United States with stories of life change. Pray that the students would believe that God would do it.

  1. Pray for our students’ physical and spiritual safety.

As students travel across the globe and back, they will endure several plane, bus, train, and car rides. Pray that our students would travel safely. Pray that the Lord would put a hedge of protection around our students while they are in country. Pray against the attacks of the enemy. Some students will encounter spiritual warfare in new ways and must stand strong on God’s promises.

  1. Pray for what comes next.

Some students will realize the Lord is asking them for more than two weeks. After their international trips, many students will decide to leverage their lives abroad as long-term or career missionaries. This was the case for me two years ago. I prayed the Lord would reveal His global purposes for me, and he took me to India. I realized God’s command for me to go and make disciples in all nations would extend far beyond America’s borders and far beyond two weeks. For other students, it will push them to be generous in sending people to the nations and praying for the nations.

Download this in-depth prayer guide that walks through Psalm 67 to pray even further for our students:

Greta Griswold (College Team)

Taking the Gospel to the Nations of NYC

My name is Brett Bouldin and this summer I have the privilege of participating in City Project. I currently attend UNC Charlotte and am a member at Mercy Church in Matthews, NC.

On Saturday, June 3rd, the City Project team headed to New York City, a place that I had never been before. I was extremely excited to be visiting a place that I had seen so many times in movies. However, I was more nervous than anything because I knew the mission of our trip wasn’t to go and simply see the best tourist attractions; it was to go and proclaim the name of Jesus to one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.

As we flew over New York, I remember being overwhelmed by the amount of huge buildings. I couldn’t begin to imagine the millions and millions of people who lived there. Doubt flooded my mind as I thought about sharing the Gospel with people on the streets. What difference could I possibly make in such a huge place?

The first day, while walking the streets of Manhattan, one of our leaders, Scott, said something that I’ll never forget. He looked at me and said, “If you can’t come to New York City and get on fire for the ministry of Jesus, then something is wrong with you.” He was so right. I looked around and saw a sea of God’s image-bearers all around me. Many of them were homeless. Many of them were of different religions and following false gods. All of them needed to know about the love of the Savior. Scott reminded me just how important our time in NYC really was. In a city that is filled with so much hopelessness, we were there to bring a message of hope.

Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday were the days that we spent sharing the Gospel with people around the city. There were different areas in New York to which each team was assigned, but my team would be in Richmond Hills, specifically on Jamaica Avenue. I remember on Tuesday feeling very discouraged and uneasy. I couldn’t see us having any impact on anyone. I was anxious and worried. As I sat in the pews of the old church for training, I grabbed one of the Bibles in front of me and flipped to Romans 4. It was Paul talking about Abraham and how he remained faithful to the Lord’s promise about creating a great nation from his offspring. The verses say,

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:20-21

I decided that even in my unbelief, I was going to remain faithful that my God is always good to fulfill His promises. Once His word goes out, it never returns void. I could rest in knowing that I was simply being obedient by sharing the Gospel.

Those days of sharing were some of the toughest days I’ve ever had to go through. I could feel the enemy constantly pressing in, telling me that what I was doing was foolish because of the amount of rejection that I was experiencing. Most people wouldn’t allow me to pray for them; many wouldn’t even acknowledge me when trying to get their attention. Talk about a humbling experience! During that time, the Lord taught me that my time in New York was not about me. I was sharing the Gospel with people ultimately because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. He deserves my willingness to tell complete strangers about Him. It’s about His glory and His glory alone.

The second day of sharing, I met a man named Joel standing outside of a barber shop. My evangelism partner, Debbie, and I approached him and asked if we could pray for him, which started a conversation that eventually gave us the opportunity to share with him. We talked and reasoned with Joel for about 3 hours that day and he eventually decided that he wanted to surrender his life to Jesus Christ! He realized that he was a sinner and needed the perfect life and love of our savior to reconcile him back to God. He recognized that this meant surrendering his life to Jesus and trusting that He died in his place and was raised back to life, covering all of his sin; past, present, and future. Joel is now our brother in Christ! Praise God!

If this summer required me sitting in a box for the rest of my time with City Project, it would have been totally worth it. Our brother was bound for Hell and has now been saved for eternity! On top of that, there were many seeds planted throughout the city by the other teams. If the Lord can save Joel and can save me, surely He can save them too. That is why I am spending my summer doing this. This is what it’s all about! There is no telling how many people may come to Christ now through Joel being a disciple-maker.

Be encouraged today. Someone has come to Christ through the obedience of Mercy Hill Church to send people on mission. If I could sum up the one big takeaway that I had from going to New York, it would be that we truly need to share the Gospel with those around us who don’t know Jesus; there are people just waiting for us to tell them. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians that we are the ambassadors of the Message and the ministry of reconciliation. It’s time to start being obedient ambassadors and to boldly proclaim the Good News.

Brett Bouldin (City Project Student)