Every experience with God is different, here are some of our stories and praise reports!
Mission Romania, Topraisar
First mission trip with my church, 2 hours plane journey to Bucharest follow by a 4ish hour coach journey to another city, Constanta, where we ran to the local supermarket to purchase the 'novelty-to-us-why-don’t-they-have-this-in-the-UK’ European snacks! We first met the OM team who drove us to the village where we would be staying; Topraisar. Aside from the amenities, washing up duties and toilet rotas, each day, we would wake up at 7.30 am, in time for group devotion, worship and prayer. Then, we would walk to the nearby stadium (made up of a field and concrete football playground) and split into our age teams (under 7s, under 9s, under 12s and teens - I was in charge of the under 7s category).
We would play games, such as an obstacle course, bulldog, dodgeball and tag, then we would walk them to the shade and teach them a colour of the wordless bible, God is good, God is love, Jesus died for our sins, we are now cleansed and now are working to grow though discipleship, reading the bible, attending church every Sunday. The girls would then love to colour whilst the boys played football. Each day, they really seemed to accept and understand our teachings and we had a lot of fun with the beautiful children!
It really was such a blessing to see their smiling faces each day, to see their joyful faces as we brought out bubbles and colouring pencils and hug and kiss them! Staying in Romania really did
make me realise their true blessings in life, the simple things such as smiling children, running water and just spending time with others in God’s love was a true joy, and now I am determined even
more to spread God’s love even further and show His blessings in my daily life, around campus, in my family home and local area…
Any of you who have yet to go on Mission/Outreach before, I would definitely push you to go out and do God’s work! No matter where we are on our walk, we all have unique talents to give. Whether that be with teaching, children, music, sports, health, speaking...
Mission Romania, Bod
Compared to our time in Topraisar, there was not a tent in sight! Most of us had bunk beds and mattresses, the girls had their own apartment and communal area and everyone had the luxury of hot, running water. After two days of orientation, we ran a five day Kid’s Camp. Praise God that we were the fourth group to have arrived on mission to this small village! The day before the camp began, we split into two groups to head to the farm and colony to drum up interest and invite the children to the camp. We learnt that during the time of communism, families were moved into the colonies (tall blocks of flats) and sent to work at the nearby sugar beet factory (now the farm). The facilities at the farm were basic with a running river, simple clay houses and a communal well. I was in the group that headed to the farm and we found that even our presence alone was enough to attract curious children to see what we were doing. We had a bonfire on one of the last evenings.
It was an intense, tiring week waking up at 7am each day, spending 7 hours with the children and going full speed until dinner at 7pm, but it was truly worth it to see the children excited to be with us. I was truly proud when they remembered what we had taught them throughout the week. A lot of the children came from broken families, and you could tell that they lacked affection from the way they would latch onto you and keep hugging you, even when you were a complete stranger to them. The constant laughing, worship, singing, hugging, dancing, eating and just being completely silly was my highlight of the trip, as well as the water fight where we all got completely soaked. Being dry that day, was not an option!
For those Christians who have not yet been on mission, I would definitely recommend that you go. Don’t wait until your circumstances are right - God is calling you now. Not only are you making an impact on those that you meet, you’ll feel closer to God and will need to trust Him in every situation, to keep providing. You’ll never be let down and you’ll feel His presence as you trust in His great works and see Him working in you, your team and in the children’s hearts.
Jesus is my Passion!
If you asked me what I enjoy doing, I could give you an array of answers, depending on my mood - travelling, reading, running, baking, eating...the list goes on. But then if you were to ask me what (or who!) I am passionate about, there would be only one answer. His name is Jesus. God in His grace has provided me the opportunity to share about my faith and I'll share a short snippet here*. My relationship and faith in Jesus permeates every area of my being, ultimately guiding the decisions that I make and the direction of my life. The reason Jesus is my passion is because I've come to realise that He gives me a purpose and identity, and a reason to be thankful and count my blessings each day. Wherever I travel around the world, I find family, that is the church; brothers and sisters where I find acceptance and a common goal, as we stand together in unity forming the Body of Christ. Knowing Jesus gives me a love for people that extends beyond myself. He gives me the strength and patience to volunteer and tirelessly serve others. The desire to travel many hours (via train, plane and minibus) to partner with a church in a remote village in Romania four so far (which has been surpassed by a number of brothers and sisters in the church, in even harsher weather conditions!). Jesus provides me with hope in an uncertain future, joy beyond circumstances and a peace that transcends all understanding. He is the anchor in my marriage and in who I find contentment in my life. For me, I consider a passion something that is constant throughout many seasons in life. That's why Jesus is my passion and specifically who I am passionate about. *If you'd like to hear more, let's speak! There's so much more to God's story in my life.
How does God prepare you for mission?
I believe God prepares us in the form of blessings and challenges which builds up our individual resource banks of talents and experiences. One form of blessing is the giving and opportunity to develop talents. In the village of Bod, half the mission team ran music lessons (cajon, keys and guitar) for a group of children, that the church has been discipling. With reference to the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the increase in talents can be seen through this multiplier effect in teaching and sharing1.
The experiences we gained from God also equip us in the mission field. We ran short sessions, divided by sex, with the children addressing issues surrounding topics of sex, relationships and the respectful treatment of people of their opposite sex. Drawing from our individual past and present experiences allowed us to connect and identify with the children, and share how we dealt with those issues and social pressures with God.
I believe God puts things in each of our lives to build up our talents and experiences in order for us to past that skill or knowledge, using us as channels and carriers to bless others (1 Corinthians 1:3-7 and Genesis 12:2-3).
To Trust during the Unknown and the Turbulence’
We often consider there a danger of being too relaxed when something seems so familiar, to think that without rigorous planning and preparation a mission will not see success. Yet whilst it is right to make sure we are prepared when we set out to do God’s work, it is even more important that we trust that in all circumstances God will always be able to turn the tide and ensure the bearing of great fruit.
At Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church in Norwich, August saw the return of our annual youth camp where the kids and young people join together to have fun, hear God’s word and build each other up. To say I was anxious about the camp would be the truth; there didn’t seem to be as much organisation as the previous year, some decisions hadn’t been made and the number of kids attending was lower than anticipated. But despite all of my reservations, it was an amazing week!
Something that was personally significant for me happened when we tried to get the kids familiar with doing morning devotions. The first day was looking bleak as no one seemed to be coming to the morning sessions, until the most unexpected person turned up. This boy Kingsley was one of the youngest, most boisterous and cheekiest kid at camp, and yet he got his Bible and sat with me to study, share and pray even though all his friends were off playing games. And it didn’t stop there! The next day he brought more people and then more came the day after and this carried on for the rest of the week!
We were very blessed this year at camp, with kids being more confident to serve, growing closer to peers and most importantly to God. There are so many times of uncertainty in our lives where we feel disheartened, but it is so important to rely only on Him and trust that God is fully in control. This is because He can work in unexpected ways even in the most turbulent of times.