“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” —Isaiah 25:1
Please be encouraged and join Maranatha in praising God for loving and teaching us this summer as we served on various missions teams. Thank you, Tenth, for your love, prayer and support for all of us! Here are some of the things we learned:
What did I learn about myself on my short-term mission?
I need to rely more on the Lord rather than on myself. Also, I need to go to the Lord and pray whenever I feel like I’m going to make a rash decision. I also learned to let the Holy Spirit work when teaching or talking about God’s Word. —Brian M, Maranatha leader (Buffalo/Spruce Hill)
What did I learn that can help me be a more fully devoted disciple of Jesus?
Within the first couple days of helping at Spruce Hill Camp, I began to feel terribly nervous every morning before Bible Buddies—the time when we talk with the kids about the Bible story we had heard. Bible Buddies is one of the most important times of the day, and I didn’t think I could handle it. What if I was awkward? What if I couldn’t relate to 9-year-olds after all? I got it into my head that if I couldn’t come up with the perfect set of questions or perform perfectly, I would fail the mission of the camp and the gospel would never reach my campers. Over the course of the two weeks and several difficult Bible Buddies, however, God taught me the right mindset: his plan overcomes any of my failures and inabilities. A misspoken word or rocky intro won’t derail his will; instead, the Holy Spirit works through the things we struggle with. Now that Spruce Hill is over, I know I can trust God with any of my insecurities, and he can still use me—even if I mess up. Thankfully, we don’t have to be perfect, and our Father doesn’t expect us to be. —Erin T, 11th grade (Spruce Hill)
I learned that I can better follow Christ by living in community with the Christian friends and mentors he has blessed me with. —Ruth W, 12th grade (Spruce Hill)
What did I learn or experience that will change the way I live and represent Jesus in my home community and church?
While we have our “Tenth way” of worshiping God, we don’t have the only way. We met people whose doctrine, I would guess, was not the same as ours but we all had a desire to serve others in the name of God. While we need to be careful and discerning when it comes to other denominations and belief systems, we should not be so quick to judge and condemn. The world sees Christians, God’s people, not Tenth people or Presbyterian people. So don't sweat the small stuff, contemporary versus traditional music, or no music; standing, sitting, clapping hands (or not); dancing in the aisles, and so on. I was reminded that people who serve God come in all sorts of packages—including Joe with his two sleeve tattoos, one representing his life before knowing God, the other representing his life after coming to know God. —Andrew H, Maranatha leader (Puerto Rico)
What did I learn about the people, the church, and the Christian community where I served?
I learned that Puerto Rico is truly strong after the hurricanes.... The church in Puerto Rico was so hospitable and welcoming, and incredibly thankful for what we were doing. So many times, I heard from people in the community about how they were grateful for us being there, praising God for it. Puerto Rico is a very diverse and welcoming nation that puts their trust in God—and a place I’ll never forget. —Grace K, HS grad (Spruce Hill, Puerto Rico)
Although I am in college now and don't have to help, I always love working with the kids and with the team. Each year, I always discover new loves and connections with the kids and see new ways that God uses me to help bring the children closer to him in their walk. —Alexandria F, college (Spruce Hill)
What did I learn about God?
God's plan and work have no mistakes. In every difficulty we go through, we still trust him and know that he is in control of our lives. For example, Michael said that he lost most of his stuff during the hurricane and that God used that moment to show Michael that anything can be done in him. —MercrediSaint A, 12th grade (Spruce Hill, Puerto Rico)
God makes connections among his people in unconventional ways. We overcame a language barrier through games, fun, and food, rather than with words. You just need to be willing to listen to his voice. —Rachel M, 10th grade (Spruce Hill, Buffalo)
God can take the little that you bring and make it more than enough. —Holly P, 12th grade (Spruce Hill, Buffalo, Puerto Rico)
God has a plan for his work, and it is possible to do God’s work even when it doesn’t feel like you are doing much. —Andrew D, 12th grade (Spruce Hill, Puerto Rico)
This summer was very strenuous, but I was reminded that God is faithful, and everything happens according to his will! I am just reminding myself daily to trust in him and roll with it. —Alina F, Summer intern/Maranatha leader (Spruce Hill, Northeast)
What did I learn about how culture impacts the ways people live and understand the gospel?
The culture at Northeast is very different from what I’m used to. For most kids, English was their second language, so communication was difficult at some points—especially with the parents. But we all believe in Jesus and that he came to save us from our sins. —Jack, 10th grade (Northeast)
What have I learned about my own Christian calling?
Through Spruce Hill my love for kids and teaching has grown immensely, and God pushed me to make it a part of my Christian calling. Because of this I'm actively pursuing a career of working with kids and I've started teaching musical theater to children. I hope to someday open up a Christian school of singing and dancing. —Greg P, Maranatha leader (Spruce Hill)
God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. —Toby H, 10th grade (Spruce Hill, Northeast)
All questions were adapted from The Banner: 10 Questions for Debriefing After a Missions Trip.