“it will not be you speaking” {Maggie}

It’s summertime. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I am sitting out on my back porch writing this blog. When I think of the idea of “summer”, it is filled with sunscreen, relaxation by the pool, and reunions with friends from home. But since coming off a year of being surrounded by such a strong Christian community at CNU, I realize that it’s different here…my community of believers has gone down to my family and me, and that two-mile radius of friends who love the Lord aren’t here. At first I felt homesick (home being Newport News with all of my friends), but then I realized most of them had gone home for the summer too. God has you and I at home for a reason. My two-mile radius of people up here in Northern VA, is full of broken people who don’t know the Lord. I realized while being here, God wants to use me to reach out to those people.
            A few nights ago, I was showing my parents small group the Cru Perspective cards. After everyone had left, I forgot to put the cards away, and left them sitting on the kitchen counter. Later that night my brother’s friend came over to hang out. It was around midnight when I decided to call it a night and we all were standing around the counter talking while I was trying to sneak away and go get in my comfy bed…when he asked, “what are those?”- referring the perspective cards. In my head I was like gosh I’m tired and I need to sleep…But God was tugging on my heart saying that this was literally an opportunity to share the gospel that was handed to me on a platter since he brought it up. So thankfully that got me super excited, and I proceeded to explain to him that this was a survey that I use to start spiritual convos on campus. After about a minute of just trying to explain what it was, I asked if I could just do the survey with him, and he agreed. This led to a really great conversation with him, my brother and me. If I was talking, Graham was praying, and if he and his friend were talking, I was praying. IT WAS SO COOL.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
           

            Matthew 10: 16-20 speaks about persecution as Christians. Now, we won’t be handed over for flogging here, but the point I wanted to draw out is that as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us. God uses the spirit to speak through us. So don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who doesn’t know the Lord, a neighbor who has never been to church, or your grandma who you get to spend time with this summer. No matter where you are, or what you are doing this summer, you are on a mission to share Jesus with others. I challenge you to think of a couple people in that two-mile radius that you could start a spiritual conversation with. God wants to use you, and He will. The Holy Spirit will guide your speech, so you don’t need to worry about what to say. Don’t let fear keep you from sharing the gospel! We don’t have to be afraid because God is with us. Always.

A Lesson Learned (Laura)

I had a semester with no prerequisites and no way to start my program till the following fall.  All I wanted to do was go to Africa and work in an orphanage. At the core of it was a belief that I could be a part of fixing a problem. I wanted to help a poor child have an opportunity to have a better life. Well, the Lord had a different plan and as always, I’m grateful. He led me to White River, South Africa with Ten Thousand Homes—a YWAM ministry.  I spent the first three months mostly in a classroom and visited neighborhoods a couple afternoons during the week. The last two months our group traveled to Mozambique and Uganda and did a variety of outreaches. I am not sure the exact moment it occurred but at some point during our outreach God did a work in my heart.  He used the people I went to help to change my understanding of joy and trust in the Lord.
For example, I had the privilege to meet a deaf girl, living in a one-room shack and sleeping on the floor. She had the most beautiful smile as she praised the same God as me.  Another woman, Carol, saw her sister killed in the most horrific way, escaped to southern Uganda, was forced into prostitution, and left alone with her children. The Lord met her and now Carol is learning how to have her own business and teach her children about Jesus. I also met a pastor who started a new church after narrowly escaping persecution by pretending to be dead amidst a group of dead bodies. He continues to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly.  
Though I hope the Lord used us to encourage these individuals, I feel like I had very little to offer them. But God, being the God of this universe and abounding in grace, was already working in their lives. These stories make my heart race. God is SO real and alive. This is what I learned in going: It’s not about what I do for others—it’s finding my place in what God is already doing. I went with a prideful attitude thinking I had something to offer Africans and left realizing that what I could do pales in comparison to God’s greatness. Only God can bring the joy and peace these people exemplified in the midst of suffering.
I went to Africa motivated by pity and pride. Now I see beauty and a God who is so visible and active in the midst of complete dependency on Him. I have a desire to go back again. This time it is not because I think I have something great to offer but because I want to be part of what God is doing. God is in Africa. He is working. He is moving. He may choose to use us but He is God—He’ll never fail to bring redemption.

Though I learned that lesson being overseas, it’s something that applies to my life every day—no matter where I am located. I want to be a person who has my eyes open to what God is doing around me and is eager to jump into it, whether it be through active participation or prayer. I want to remember that trying to do something without the Lord moving first is fruitless. He is the Shepherd and I am a sheep. I pray we’ll follow His voice and experience the joy of what He is doing around us.