The very next day, after we arrived in Brooke’s Point, we began a week of training in preparation for two weeks of evangelistic meetings. I am amazed as I look back and see how God was working in my life, personally, and also through our team in the lives of the local people.
I mentioned in my post: Mission Experience—The Pre-Trip Stories, that I was very afraid of going on a mission trip. I was afraid of travelling and being so far from home, but most of all I was afraid to get out of my comfort zone and speak. I am typically a very shy person and just to introduce myself to someone who first introduced themselves to me is beyond my comfort zone! I knew when I applied to go on the trip that I would either be in the Public Evangelism (PE) team or the Child Evangelism (CE) team. Both teams included both public speaking and—as I would soon find out—our whole team would be given lots of opportunities to personally invite people to attend the meetings.
The parts of our day which were actually considered classes were first Group Training and then Child Evangelism for me and the rest of the CE team and Public Evangelism for that team. In Group Training we learned some basic things about speaking effectively and properly along with some Filipino culture. In CE, we learned about how to speak enthusiastically so as to keep the interest of the children, practiced reading our scripts of the stories for the different evenings we were assigned to and did a lot of preparation of craft supplies and such. But, while these classes did fill most of our days, we also had some time to do other things…Things that scared me terribly, but also gave me an opportunity to see God truly working drastic changes in me.
Each afternoon we had personal time and quiet time. During personal time we could practice instruments, for those who brought them; we could take care of laundry; we could just relax, chat or whatever else. I usually spent that time either sleeping or cutting crafts out for CE.
One day, Mr. Ted told us that he was going to take all the girls to the market if we wanted to go. It was not very far away and we walked there during personal time and wandered around for quite a while. I had a nice time just looking at everything.
As it was nearly time to go, Mr. Ted told us all that none of us could leave until everyone had invited at least one person to the meetings. I foolishly tried to get away without inviting anyone, but Mr. Ted had apparently already noticed a few days earlier (on a Sabbath afternoon walk with most of our team) that I was not one to just go up to people and start talking—I had not invited anyone Sabbath afternoon until Mrs. Evert told me to walk with her and she started the talking…Not to mention the fact that I made a terrible mess of that invitation. So…Mr. Ted asked me directly if I had invited anyone.
I shook my head “no” and he said that I absolutely had to. Ugh…I was so nervous! Seeing that I was practically frozen to the ground in 100 degree weather, he looked around for someone to invite and then said “Come on, Samantha” and headed toward her. He introduced himself to her, told her a bit about our group and then introduced me and said “Maybe you’d like to tell her about the meetings we’ll be having.” I think I managed to make a bit more sense of that invitation than the one with Mrs. Evert, but still…Mr. Ted had to fill in a lot of details (such as what time) just because my mind was so jumbled I couldn’t even think.
Also on Sabbath afternoon: a few people from our team got to go to a local AY (Adventist Youth) program while the rest of us stayed back at the lodge. I was very relieved to not have been chosen to go to AY! For those who don’t know: AY is pretty much a Sabbath afternoon get together for local SDA youth to sing, share testimonies and just hang out with a spiritual focus. Little did I know, shortly after we got back to the lodge from church, it was announced that those of us there were going to have our own AY program!
Long story short, I was one of those selected to share a promotional: a short testimony, thought about a Bible verse, or a mission story. Once again, my mind froze. A few friends and I were each supposed to choose one of the above options and come up with something to share with the group within about 5 or 10 minutes.
I couldn’t think for anything—even once it was suggested to me that I share how I ended up on Mission Experience. And I still couldn’t think even when Mr. Ted practically told me my own story. Finally he mentioned a quote which his father, Mr. Evert, had shared with me while I was fundraising and that struck a chord in my memory. I quickly scribbled down a few thoughts and then our time was up.
As we were walking back to the meeting area to share our promotionals, I said: “I’m going to have a heart attack!” To which Mr. Ted replied: “That’s ok, I know CPR…” I think that comment served its purpose and I relaxed a little bit…I was still majorly nervous but I didn’t have a heart attack… 😉
As I kept having these experiences where I was terrified and couldn’t even think, I learned how to wholly rely on God. I can assure you: my brain surely didn’t do me much good! But God is faithful! I know this post is getting long, but I just want to share one more story…These actually happened during the weeks of the meetings, but they go along with this subject.
A couple days after the meetings started it was my turn to go visiting in the local community. There were some of the local church members who came to walk around with us and we usually had at least one other from the ME team with us, as well.
I was quite nervous that first time I went out. I had not been away from the lodge, yet, without Mr. Ted and this was a new experience. As we were walking, one of the local girls, Jessa, told me that I was going to be the one doing the talking at the next house. My first thought was “NO WAY!” But she insisted, as did the others.
I opened my Bible to find a verse that I could share at the next house and, as I flipped through, I came upon Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Jessa asked to see which verse I had chosen and so I handed her my Bible.
She read it through and then said: “That’s your verse!” I was confused as to the reason she said that and so she repeated: “That’s your verse, Samantha…Fear thou not!” Wow. Here God was giving me the exact promise that I needed for that moment and I had applied it in my mind to far-off circumstances.
I wonder how often we do that to God. How often do we take the promises that He shows us and say “Yeah, when such and such happens 20 years from now, I will remember that promise and it will give me the strength I need to go on.”? And then we go on saying that God has abandoned us in our current situation, when really we’re just storing up His blessings instead of using them…And God is there saying: “No! This is for here! This is for now! Claim it, count on it, use it! Twenty years from now, I’ll give it to you again!”
By the end of Mission Experience I was almost completely comfortable walking up to random people on the street and inviting them to the meetings—all details included. It was on the last day of visitations that I wasn’t nervous at all as I was talking to someone I’d never met. I was practically jumping up and down! Hallelujah!
Whatever God is calling you to do, don’t refuse because you are fearful or unsure. His grace is sufficient and it is in our weakness that He can supply us with His divine strength because then we realize our total need.
And I pray that as we read God’s promises, that we will apply them to our lives now. That we will see His grace in the simplest situations, that we will accept His love for today—no matter how small or unimportant this specific trial may seem.
Blessings, my friends, as you endeavor to climb out of your comfort zones for God!
Until next time, (When I get to share some more amazing stories—this time about our two-week series…)