This summer a team of 13 students from Southeastern met up with 3 other NAMB teams in San Diego, California and lived their lives on mission for 6 to 8 weeks. I was blessed to be a part of this family. We were led by our city coach, James Gordon, who shepherded us all summer, pouring scripture into our lives so we would hide it in our hearts! Prior to going we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but having gone and lived amongst the peoples in San Diego, we can say that we gained much.
What is my purpose? What is my identity? These are a couple of questions I went into this summer asking myself and ultimately God. While there and since being home, God has taught me a lot about what my identity in Him looks like. I’ve meditated on the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about how the parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable. Sometimes I feel like what I’m doing for the body isn’t enough, or I don’t have the right skills to serve God like others- this summer God reminded me that He chose me, that I’m His and that the gifts that He has gifted me with are just as important as the movers and shakers of the world. So often, we let comparison, fear and even complacency keep us from serving the grand purpose of loving one another and sharing Christ with everyone who will listen.
We are told in Acts 1:8 to go to Jerusalem, to all of Judea, to Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. How are we to reach the nations if we are not first reaching our neighbors? While living in San Diego, we learned the importance of being intentional with the people that God has put into your everyday life. We were taught to go into the community, engage, invest and invite.
If you’re thinking that you have to be a gifted evangelist, you’re not getting it. We learned that knowing truth, living truth and telling truth is important to our daily routines. Remember that we are ordinary people called to do extraordinary things for Christ.
There was one instance in particular that will stick in my mind forever. A lady at the back of the church who was in a wheel chair raised her hand for prayer. Two members walked passed her to pray for others and so I went to her. She smelled terribly and looked like she hadn’t bathed in several days or even weeks. I took her hand and asked her how I could pray for her. The whole time praying to God to give me the words to say out loud that would glorify Him and encourage her through my conversation with the Father.
She explained that she was homeless and about to lose her section 8 papers, but that’s not what I want prayer for, she admitted. With hopelessness in her eyes she told me that she just desired to be loved. We’d heard it in training all summer that one out of one people desire to be loved, but to hear it come from the lips of a helpless woman, ripped me to my core. What an incredibly humbling sentence to hear. All she owned in the world could fit in a small shopping cart, but she didn’t want to pray for things- she wanted to pray that someone would show her love.
We bowed our heads and I shared God’s unfailing love with her. When we were finished praying I held her for a minute or so. I just got to thinking how long it had probably been since she’d been held. I thought of how I looked like to God before I was covered with His righteousness and how despite my ugly stained life, Jesus came down and hugged me, showed me His ultimate love. When I left her side she was in tears, as was I. After that night I never saw her again, but I pray that her situation changed and that she recognized the hope that Christ gave us all.
We experienced moments like this in our everyday lives all summer. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing a few more stories from my teammates that recognize the bigness of God and the importance of our obedience. We hope that you can be encouraged by these encounters and take a leap of faith to take an extra ten minutes and have a gospel conversation with a neighbor, cashier, waitress or friend.