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We lived the message of the Gospel... // Kenya Global Project 2017

Kenya Global Project 2017

Kenya Global Project 2017

Two weeks ago we began the final preparations in Nairobi as we got ready to fly out that night. Our phones were back in our hands. Cameras were going nonstop. Shillings were exchanged. Goodbyes were made. Memories were starting to be sealed. Many of us began to feel the pressures of all we would be returning to when we got back to the states. Would the team stay in touch? Would we assimilate, alienate, or integrate with our "regular" lives because of the lessons learned? Would time pass and the memories fade? Would the ways we experienced God in mind blowing ways continue? Would grocery stores, tv shows, and multi-ethnic or mono-ethnic crowds overwhelm us? Would we still have our zeal for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Would we ever return to this place that had transformed each of us in unimaginable ways?

As the day wound down, we began to talk about not just the days of orientation or our ministry assignment (see previous three emails), but also the final two and a half weeks of our time there. How we were blessed by the story, lessons, and exhortation for loving others as one our greatest tools of witness from a now Christian preacher who grew up as a devout Hindu in India before converting to Christianity. How we toured Hindu temples and then experienced the Islamic faith in a Muslim Mosque. How we spent hours caring for disabled orphans at the Mother Theresa Home and played childhood games with orphans at Sanctuary of Hope. How we gleamed wisdom for missionaries and saw God's creation in a new way at the Nairobi National Park. How we spent days debriefing and discovering all the ways God moved in Kenya. How God's purposes for us in this world could very well be in the marketplace within a wide range of industries or serve with local ministries domestically or move to Kenya one day to continue your mission in reaching one of the three unreached tribes in Kenya that you were blessed to begin working with for 2.5 weeks on ministry assignment (hint hint). :-)

Mission trips are always powerful, but what I saw happen in 6.5 weeks was not just a mission trip, it truly was a global project. It was filled with opportunities to not just learn about a new culture, but fully immerse yourself and live incarnationally with them much like God did when He came to earth in the form of man. We were taught new concepts in various subject areas, trained in skills we never knew we needed, and had our scope widened beyond our home country. We did not just share the hope, life, and salvation through Jesus Christ, we were image bearers of God and we lived the message of the gospel. We did not just see people become Christians, we served, provided resources, and watched God transform the lives of people. Twenty two Americans and five Kenyans loved on a nation for 6.5 weeks and they...

  • ...gave about 300 sermons/messages,
  • ...saw over 1100 decisions for Christ,
  • ...visited over 400 homes and 40 schools,
  • ...served almost 300 hours,
  • ...worked with over 200 patients and provided over 100 vaccinations (nursing students),
  • ...donated countless resources and personal finances to various efforts!

Now that I am back, if there is one word I could use to sum up this experience for me...my first major experience of this new decade in my life...it would be CONFIRMING! God confirmed his specific calling on my life. God confirmed His purposes in me. God confirmed full-time ministry is for me.  God confirmed that I will in fact be living in Africa (something I've desired for some time).  God confirmed His Son's gospel is enough. God confirmed He is still saving people. God confirmed seminary has paid off.  God confirmed He cares about all parts of my life, big and small. God confirmed that He made me exactly the way He did for His reasons and it is no mistake I am the ethnicity I am. God confirmed I'm worthy of His love and the love of those who want to freely give it. God confirmed the authentic Chelir is the best version of Chelir. 

Chelir Grady
IV Staff @ Texas Southern & Prairie View

“Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” // SAUP 2017

 

Heading into Justice Week 2 seemed like that extra stack of paper work one receives in the office right before closing after a long day. Just when the worker thought he was ready to pack his things and move on, more comes in. He obligingly stays to continue the work.  

During this justice week we explored different issues such as the broken education system and human trafficking, which contain heavy cycles of conflict, helplessness, and grief. Tensions between the fear of becoming desensitized to the suffering of others and yet the call to love as Christ does led me to question the proper response we are to have to these overwhelming injustices. I was close to ‘resigning’ from all of these lessons, but instead, part of my honest response was a complaint in the midst of searching for more understanding.  Like Habakkuk the prophet, I asked God, “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Hab. 1:3)

Before pointing me upward again to the hope of Christ, He made me first look down at reality. As our co-director Christina mentioned in her discussion, the root of injustice is sin. This sin perpetrates personal, relational, and systemic circles all around us- in our own lives, even. Our hope against these social and personal evils is in the Gospel. God has committed to us the beautiful ministry of reconciliation through the Good News (2 Cor. 5:18-19). With it we can bring healing and true justice. This matters because our God is just. He created mankind to be conformed to His image, and all things to be rightfully reconciled to Him. Carrying this message, however, involves embracing suffering like Christ did. 

After complaining, Habakkuk did not initially like God’s answer; that injustice would be fought with more injustice before God’s ultimate judgement. Suffering would prevail in the meantime. As John Ortberg stated in a sermon we watched, there is a response in all of us in the day between trouble and deliverance: denial, despair, or waiting on the Lord. In suffering, God calls us to wait on the Lord. Unlike passivity, waiting on the Lord will renew our strength. Then we will be able to rejoice all the more in Christ’s salvation. As we walk through injustices and intercede for the voiceless, we remember our source of healing and promises is Christ.

Gabriela Hernandez
UT-Dallas

Hope & Faith // SAUP 2017

 Our third week of SAUP focused greatly on emotional maturity & self-awareness/self-reflection. When told the theme I was extremely excited as I love any chance for deep self-reflection and awareness, but I was completely unprepared for what God convicted me of this week.

Through a spiritual formation test, I was able to face the realization that my recurring sin crippling my life was fear and anxiousness. And while this sin would manifest itself in everyday decisions that would bring me out of my comfort zone, it also affected my relationship with God by preventing me from being able to fully hope and have faith in Him. I can think many situations in my life where I had the option to take a huge leap of faith and follow God, but I chose to remain fearful of what would happen and deny Him and his calling instead. Even since I was a child, worrying has been the core of my being and I’ve always wished I could just have more faith in Christ. I’ve always wondered, “Why can’t I just trust in Him? Why is it so hard to believe?”

Through bible studies in Mark and intentionally seeking Jesus this project, I feel like I’ve finally been able to discover what was missing. Hope. Faith without hope is useless; as you cannot have faith in something you truly do not believe in. Who Jesus is really came alive for me and the Gospel became something I could fully find comfort and hope in. Growing up in church, I definitely knew about Jesus, but it was only through SAUP I was able to discover Jesus and what he has done for me through the cross. With this hope I want to begin to re-build my life upon God having realized he really is the only firm foundation out there. Instead of relying on my own strength and ultimately failing when my fears make me sink, I have faith that God will lead me.

We spent last week learning about the deep injustices and systemic sin in this world, and I really had no idea how to respond to everything God revealed to me. But even though I still don’t have a worldly answer to my ever-present question “But what can I do,” I can confidently say, “I can release my fears and trust God.” This may seem like such a cliché statement in writing, but actually believing this has given me true peace and solace in God that I have never experienced before.

Jonathan Chang
Texas AAIV

Invisible & Voiceless // SAUP 2017

This week our SAUP family focused on justice, and we learned about different groups of people who suffer under systemic injustice in the United States. My group focused on the homeless community, and our journey took us to broken places where people were deprived of their most basic needs. As I talked to these humans, and names and faces started replacing the generalizations about homeless people I had gathered in my mind, I started seeing how many of them craved human connection. They were eager to tell their stories and seemed grateful for someone to sit across the table from them listen. These are the people whose stories go unheard, because they are often invisible and voiceless in society. 

There was Eduardo, who didn't know the difference between fantasy and reality. He told me vivid stories about hunting zombies, and when I left the table, he kept talking to the air like someone was still there. I asked him what he was planning to do in the future, and he said, "I've tried everything." The words "get a job" and "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" do not begin to help Eduardo, because clearly his needs are much deeper.

We didn't go to these places and learn about injustices so we could be anyone's savior. There's nothing we could do in an afternoon, or even a lifetime, to fix the problem of sin in the world. Eduardo and I crossed paths for only a short time, and there was little I could do besides commend him to the care of our God, who knows and loves Eduardo better than anyone in the world. I trust that God has been with him long before I met him, and will continue to be with him for his whole life. Our SAUP family is commissioned to do the Lord's work in our community, at our ministry sites, and wherever God takes us, but Jesus is the only one who can bring true healing.

Grace Corley
IV @ Trinity University