I have had the blessing of being able to go on two weekend outreaches as well as a ten day. The first place I went this semester was Serbia. It was a great out reach, but also challenging in many ways. This was the first outreach where I really struggled with feeling a lack of unity in the team. While most of the members participated, some didn’t engage at all and it actually made me very angry. The whole trip I struggled with anger and I think that I can look back and say that God was teaching me the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger. Most of our time in Serbia was spent cleaning out the attic of the church, which had been vandalized. As we sorted through clothes, trying to determine what was contaminated by human excrement, my heart burned with anger. How could anyone one do something like that, and in a church of all places! Then as I finished working as saw one of my teammates uninvolved, pouting, and being a general annoyance to everyone, my heart once again filled with disgust. God really used our time there to humble me and learn to submit these emotions to Him. I needed to see the difference kinds of anger and learn how to respond to these feelings in a way that honors the Lord. I know it’s still a lesson that God is not finished schooling me in.
My second outreach was to Pecs, Hungary. I had the honor of leading a team there. I think I could say the theme of this outreach for me was spiritual warfare. I almost didn’t go on the trip because I felt so sick. My stomach was cramping so badly that I couldn’t even stand up, but then at the last minute I felt so much better that I decided to go. I don’t regret it at all, but it was a hard trip for me. I would be fine all day, than when we would go out to evangelize, I would suddenly feel horrible again. I didn’t share with the team how sick I really felt, and I honestly was fine for the most part. But it was in these moments with the doubts would come flooding in. I tortured myself with the question “is this a spiritual attack?” But spiritual or not, it was physical. On Saturday night we went out as a group to witness to the teenagers in the park. I ended up spending the night sitting on a bench because I really couldn’t walk, stand or engage in a conversation. Two high school girls from the church, who are really living with one foot in the world and one in Church, ended up leaving their friends and joining me for about two hours. As we huddled for warmth, we tried to communicate with my simple Hungarian. They taught me new words and we would laugh as I failed at saying them. Then God showed me…no matter what was happening in the Spiritual realm, He has promised me that He would work all things together for my good. I don’t know what Satan was trying to do, but what I need to focus on is God and what He wants to do, even in the midst of my own pain.
For my ten day outreach I went to Salzburg, Austria. I can definitely say that the whole point of this trip was learning to walk in obedience. Even before I left I knew that God was stretching me in that area. Almost as soon as I signed up to go to Salzburg, I struggled with actually wanting to go. Actually, I wanted to go to Grease. I thought about all the different ways I could back out, but I never did. As I was reading The Auto-Biography of George Muller for my book report, God spoke to me. George Muller had made a commitment to serve with a certain ministry, but afterwards he wanted to do something else. However, because he knew the word of God tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, he decided to do what he had said he would. SO, I went to Salzburg…and God blessed me beyond measure.
Yet, He also continued to challenge my obedience to Him. Would I take my thoughts captive for Him? Would I submit to leadership? Would I seek to hear from Him? Would I go there? Would I talk to that person? Would I hold my tongue? Would I forgive? Every single day, God made me do something that I didn’t want to do. Every single day, God blessed my obedience. Over the last year I have learned that the more I choose to say yes to the Lord, the easier it is to discern when His voice is speaking to me.
The biggest example that I have of this is when we went out to evangelize. The plan was to join up with a ministry that ministers in College Dorms. I didn’t want to do that at all, but I decided if that’s what I was called to do, that’s where I would go. So we went to meet the people, prayed, and walked into the dorm building. About 30 seconds later, we walked out. I’ve never been kicked out of a building for sharing the gospel before, but that’s exactly what happened. Before we could even start we were asked to leave. So we decided to walk to a new bridge and look at it, then we would head to the next dorm. Once we reached the bridge, we gathered in prayer. I remember praying that God would be our words, that we would be sensitive to His leading, and that we would follow the Holy Spirit every step of the way. We said “Amen” and someone suggested the skit.
Honestly, I was a little angry…we where there to support a ministry, not to bring in our own. In order to do the skit we would have to walk another 15 minutes to a different bridge and in my mind this was a waste of time. But, everyone agreed and we set off. I walked apart from everyone trying to get my feelings under control. We got to the bridge and saw about four people. Stood around for awhile and finally started, with all the people we knew as an audience. Halfway through the music died and we stopped. I suggested that we go on to the dorm, since that is what we had planned to do anyways. No one agreed and I was “made” to do the skit again. So I did. When it was over our group, minus me, went back together. Suddenly, I determined that if I had been forced to do it, I might as well share the gospel with someone. So I looked to my left, saw two girls, and decided to go talk to them. Yet somehow, I walked to the left and introduced myself to a man and a woman that I hadn’t even really noticed. For the next two hours God showed me how much greater His plans are than mine could possibly be. I have never had a conversation with anyone who was so desperately seeking truth. I felt God grip my heart as this man asked questions, begging me with his eyes to help Him to understand. He asked me, “Do you give up all your personal aims, every day, for God? Because, you know, that is what the Bible says to do. How is that possible? How does God speak to us and how do we know that it’s Him speaking?”
Ironically, God was speaking to me through him…and even more ironically, God answered those questions that I have been asking myself for years, though my own mouth.
God has shown me that He is leading my steps and that I can always count on Him do be with me in each step I take, as long as I am walking towards Him.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24