CP UPDATE #4 // INTERNATIONAL
Sorry for the late update! It's been a couple of weeks since we've all gotten back from international and I've finally been able to get my thoughts together. If you're not able to read this whole post please read over the "What God Taught Me" & "Pray For" sections.
My initial thoughts: wow, London is a lot like New York. It's a big city with a transit system and a population with people groups from all over the world.
My thoughts now: yeah London is all those things, but ultimately it's a place in need of the gospel.
Everyday we would go out and have conversations with the people- showing God's love by sharing the good news and asking about their own lives and beliefs.
London may be a lot like NY but the spiritual climate is definitely different. We encountered people with beliefs that I've never heard of before and those with all types of views on who God is. People shared a lot of their brokenness with us and expressed that they just wanted peace in the world. God gave me a heart for the people that I didn't expect to have and every gospel share made my heart smile.
God did so much in just 2 weeks. We knocked on 1663 doors, 117 received prayer, 119 said we could come back, over 50 gospel shares, 2 decisions for Christ so far, and 1 group already started!! Praise God!
I just have to share a couple events that He graciously allowed me to experience. (Note: I've changed the names of the people we talked with.)
THE POWER OF DISCIPLESHIP.
One afternoon some friends and I went with our field partner to facilitate a women's Bible study on John 1. Getting there was an adventure but the adventure was so worth it. We entered the home of the ladies we came to visit- Abigail, Bethany, and Sarah. Each lady had her own story.
Bethany had recently accepted Christ and had such a heart to learn. When we mentioned the word baptism she wasted no time and showed us a video of her getting baptized the week before. And the joy she had on her face was undeniable.
Sarah was a shy Ethiopian woman. It seemed like she didn't know much English but we were able to find the Bible in her language. During our study, she sat silently- possibly processing what was being said. Join me praying for Sarah- that she would have a desire to know more of who God is.
Now, on our way to the Bible study we were told that Abigail was "on fire for God" and those words couldn't have been more accurate. Abigail had a soul that just knew and lived like God was as real as the sun we see in the sky and had a heart for others to know and live that too. She was so excited to be around other believers and she couldn't help but share truth and Scripture with every word that came out of her mouth. And I have to add, she explained John 1:1 so clearly that it gave my friends and I such a great confidence in our great God.
That night was so encouraging. I've never experienced the power of discipleship like I did in that blessed apartment. Pray that the women in that apartment would continue to seek God and love others and that God would grow their numbers.
THE LADY WITH THE BLUE DOOR.
On one of our door knocking days we encountered Jessica, the lady with the blue door. Jessica had one of the wealthier homes in the neighborhood and when we asked if we could pray for her she asked us to pray for her children. After talking for a couple of minutes we learned that Jessica didn't consider herself religious but would take her kids to church on occasion for events. I was sad that we never ended up sharing the gospel with Jessica that day but I was filled with hope when she said we could come back another time.
On one of our follow up days I was put in a group that was set to visit the road Jessica lived on! I knocked on her blue door and she remembered who I was. I asked her how her kids were doing and we prayed for them again. I knew it was time to share the gospel but my mind blanked from all the excitement. Thankfully, my friend was ready to share the gospel. God gave my friend the words and thoughtfulness that Jessica needed to hear. Jessica expressed that what we shared was something that would be good to have but she just wasn't sure. Pray with me that Jessica would be able to meet up with our field partners, that her questions would be answers, and she would one day put her trust in God.
***WHAT GOD HAS SHOWN ME
1. PRAY IN MY WEAKNESS
It was hard in the moment but thankfully I learned this lesson within hours of being in London. On day one we prayer walked through the area- with no sleep or energy and with the heat of the sun covering everything. And while we were walking, out of our mouths came real, honest prayers. Prayers that humbled me and reminded me that I was human and can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5 "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."). Everyday we depended on His strength. And in our constant state of weakness our response was to speak with the One who gives all things- the words to say to the Muslim who doesn't believe Jesus is God, the energy to continue knocking on doors when we haven't talked to a single person in an hour, the patience to speak kindness and love, the trust that a confession was genuine- or one day will be genuine, the attitude that's excited for another day of ministy. Talking to my Creator in this way has given me a peace and a trust in God that continues to seep into my life. Talking with my Creator when I feel lifeless is actually so life-giving.
2. SEEING GOD WORK IS AN ACT OF GRACE
Open doors, gospel conversations, receptive hearts, follow ups- it's what our whole team wanted to experience. But when I experienced time frames without any "good" conversations or watched other team members go to follow ups when I didn't have one- a part of me would get discouraged. One day my friend and I expressed our frustrations to another friend. And instead of complaining with us, he reminded us of the truth the whole walk to our destination. I remember him saying something about how we're really not entitled to see God move in the city- it's a gift when we see someone excited about the gospel. And that thought really changed my perspective to seek faithfulness not fruitfulness.
3. GOD IS STILL AT WORK
We didn't leave every conversation with an overwhelming feeling of hope nor did we get to share the gospel with every person we met- and that was hard for me. I think about the lady and her disabled child, or the young man in the black hoodie, or the guy studying dance at university, or the mom at the park from Scotland with her two young boys. Will they ever accept the gospel and cling to the promises of Jesus? But then I think about the truth God has reminded me- "I am still at work." And that reminder gets me fired up because that means I can have hope that they will one day have a relationship with God and pray fervently that God will continue to work in the lives of every single person we met.
BEING WITH JESUS
During international, our team went through the book of John. It was an adjustment going from a book like Ephesians to reading a narrative but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this gospel. The character of Jesus is so clearly laid out and God showed me many things that I've never noticed before.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God."
Thanks to the insight God gave Abigail, I saw "the Word was God" in a new light. Abigail answered two questions. (Q1) Who is the Word? (A) Jesus. (Q2) What is the Word? (A) the Bible. So, when we read the Bible it's the closet thing to having the Son of God with us. That's such a sweet thing to thing about.
"And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice..."
John 10:16 was a constant reminder when we got together for Devo each day and thought about the day ahead of us. It reminded us of the why. We went to London because God has graciously allowed all of us to be a part of John 10:16- to point people to the Good Shepherd.
-we had fun together
Having the sun come up at 4:30am and watching it go down around 10pm, navigating the Tube, attending World Cup games and cheering "it's coming home!," going to Creams and then wondering why we put all that sugar in our bodies, eating Meal Deals every night for dinner, and noticing that British fruit taste really good. This is just a glimpse of all the little things we did together. They made ministry enjoyable.
-we had each other's backs
This was a big deal for me. I was pretty nervous on our first full day. But all the nerves faded away when I remembered that I wasn't alone. Sharing in groups reminded me of Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." There was nothing to fear. I had friends ready to share the gospel when I blanked, to answer any questions I had about the Bible, to I was okay when I was sick. I can mention plenty of other moments like this. Literally, these are the people you want by your side in any situation. They model Hebrews 10:24-25 really well.
-we pointed each other to Christ
Devotional times were so sweet because we got to hear what God showed all of us in His Word. Every morning on the Tube we all practiced memorizing John 15- taking up the challenge to memorize a series of verse that look the exact same because having His Word in our hearts is worth it. At night we took the time to share what we were thankful for that day and chose someone to affirm and say how we saw God using them in specific ways.
It was such a blessing to do life with these friends for two weeks!! At the beginning of this trip we were all strangers- and everyone had their own unique personality, which I viewed as a challenge. But as always God knew what he was doing and used the "randomness" of our group so that we might see more of His glory.
1. Our field partners- that God would continue to bless their ministry and work in the hearts of their follow ups and use them to advance His kingdom.
2. The city of London- that the people would see their need for the gospel and be ready to accept it.
3. Us students- that we would carry the same boldness we had during international back to our campuses and to the people God has placed in our lives.