A Lesson in Witnessing – Part 3

No excuses needed this time! 🙂 Thought I’d try to beat the Christmas craziness and finish the third and final part of this story today. Enjoy!

As mentioned at the end of the previous post, I was really struggling after NESA because I had not found the chance to share the gospel with any of my cadets due to the business of those two weeks. I was especially sad that no one seemed to be taking the scriptures to heart, or at least in a way that I could visibly see the impact. It disappointed me a great deal.

Later, during that first week back home, I began praying and asking God to show me if I had done anything wrong and if not, why did He not provide me the opportunity to share the gospel or see any of the cadets make a positive step towards knowing Him better. As I talked with Him, He began to show me something I had never thought of before. He started with a question, “If I had told you that none of the students would directly come to Christ due to your efforts there, would you have still gone through all the hours of work to create the scripture cards and meditate on the best ways to share the gospel with the cadets?” I knew the answer right off. No. Why would I have wasted time on it if it would have only proven unprofitable? Then, God showed me where I was wrong. How was I to know that it was unprofitable? Just because I didn’t see them come to Christ or have a miraculous change of heart didn’t mean that no good was to come from my efforts. God showed me that the part I played in giving the scripture cards was only one stepping stone on a path that would help direct them down a road towards hopefully, one day, putting their trust in Christ.

Sometimes, God places us at the end of the path where we get to see their conversion to Christ, and sometimes He places us at the beginning or somewhere in between. God showed me that the kind of effort I put into these cadets, because I felt so sure I could make a difference in those two weeks, is the same kind of effort I need to put forth in people who I am not so sure will make the decision to follow Christ. He assured me that this was a vital point for me to learn as I work on training to become a missionary, and perhaps that it was important for me to be acquainted with the uncertainty of the work, yet still remember to retain the same measure of enthusiasm and effort no matter how circumstances appear externally. The Holy Spirit is doing His work in peoples hearts… drawing them and that is not always visible to the human eye.

Well, it took three parts to finally get around to explaining what God taught me about witnessing to others, but I felt it was an important revelation in my life and wanted to share it with those who are a part of this ministry team through prayer support. Thank you once again for your faithful prayers. God is at work!

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A Lesson in Witnessing – Part 2

I guess “I hope to post Part 2 soon” didn’t really work out. 🙂 I have my fair share of excuses to blame this on, but I’ll skip that paragraph and dive into Part 2 of what God taught me about witnessing at NESA this past summer.

Click here to read Part 1 in case you missed it and want to catch up before you read Part 2. 🙂

NESA started out with a bang! The first night I had the opportunity to meet my team and introduce myself. The next day started with waking up at 4:30 in the morning, getting dressed and preparing gear for the day, followed with waking up my students, helping them get their gear together, and making it out the door just in time for morning formation. During formation we checked everyone’s gear again, gave instructions, listened to the director of our school give additional instructions, and then went to eat. Staff sat together and talked about the plans for the day while our students sat at another table hurriedly eating their food before we had to leave. The time to leave came quickly. We went back to the formation field and were given instructions to head to our classes. After several hours of classes, we headed back to the mess hall for lunch, and then back to the classroom for more training. After several more hours of classes, we went to dinner, then back to the classroom. About 10:30 in the evening, we lead our students back to their barracks, and the staff went to our staff meeting. We returned from the staff meeting about 11:30, took a shower, repacked our gear, and went to bed about 12:30. 4:30 the next morning came way to soon. Then, the cycle repeated itself again. It wasn’t until the third day, as I was going through my gear, that I found the scripture cards and remembered to hand them out. Much to my surprise, the cadets were very excited to receive them and quickly dubbed the cards “words of wisdom”. I wasn’t sure how many of the students were Christians, but no one turned them down and seemed to read the cards with great eagerness. On the fourth day, my students asked for two cards. Since we had missed the previous days, I was able to give each of them two. For the rest of the week, they asked for two cards…I’m not sure how it happened, and if it was a miracle or just a mathematical mistake, but there were enough cards to last both weeks even when giving the cadets two per day the first week.

Week one quickly came to a close, and week two began immediately. All the cadets in my previous group graduated with their Advanced Ground Search And Rescue rating and it was great to see the smiles on their faces as their work finally paid off. The second week, I received a new group of students, this time with seven cadets instead of five. I started off the first day by giving my new group of students the cards, but their faces did not show the same enthusiasm of the first group. One of the students told me that he was Mormon, so he wasn’t sure that his parents would let him read the cards, so I let all the students know that they could do whatever they wanted with the cards and were by no means required to keep them. One cadet said thank you, and seemed to be encouraged by the card, the rest took a moment to read their card and then put it in their pocket. I saw some of the other staff standing to the side watching, so I went up and offered them a card. They all said no, and one explained that he had already done his devotion for the day so he didn’t need one. The second week was a lot more hectic. My team struggled with learning the new information, probably because many of them had taken the Basic GSAR course or Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) course the previous week and were quite worn out. Part way through the week, one of the other team leaders came up to me and told me that he had found one of the scripture cards on the ground. He said that it really encouraged him, and he wondered if he could have a scripture card each day along with the rest of the cadets. Another team leader was standing there also (the one who had mentioned about already having his devotion), and he asked if he could have one each day as well. For the rest of the week I gave my students, plus two of the other team leaders, scripture cards. The team leader who had asked for the card first, I overheard in a conversation with the director of the event earlier that week. The director asked him what religion he was, and he replied sarcastically, “whichever religion you want me to be sir!” I hoped that the Lord would work through the scriptures to show him how real Yahweh is and that there is no other god besides Him. It was interesting to see him throughout the week, whenever he would receive his card. “Oh! This one’s perfect!” He would announce. “It talks about rising up with wings like eagles…and I found an eagle’s feather earlier this morning,” he said as he plucked the feather from his backpack. The next day, I overheard him reading his card for the day as he sarcastically remarked, “Man! I’m going to make sure to carry this with me today!” and went on to talk about how stressed he was and in need of the encouragement. The other staff member who asked for me to give him a card came up to me later on that week and thanked me for giving him the cards that week. He said it was very encouraging and helped him a lot throughout each day. The end of week two drew to a close. Five of my cadets graduated, while two were unable to pass. We encouraged them to finish up the remaining tasks at their home squadron or Emergency Services exercises in their Wing (state). I was plum worn out on the ride home and didn’t have the brain power to really think through everything that had happened that week. However, the day after we arrived back home, I began to think of the scripture cards and started to feel upset with myself. I didn’t have a single opportunity to share the gospel with any of my cadets…the closest thing I did to sharing the gospel was giving out scripture cards. I felt really bad. I tried to think of times when I could have shared the gospel…but couldn’t think of any. We were so crazy busy that I barely had enough time to share the information required for them to pass the course. I felt very angry at myself the following days because of this, but then God brought something to my attention that I hadn’t really thought of before and reshaped the way I thought about ministry and missions.

Part 3 coming soon! 😀

A Lesson Learned in Witnessing – Part 1

This summer I had the opportunity to staff at the National Emergency Services Academy (NESA) in Indiana. I had a wonderful time learning new skills and meeting new people, but I also had my share of trials. When I returned home I had time to reflect on one of the trials I faced, and realized that God used it to teach me an invaluable lesson about reaching the lost. In order to understand what God taught me, I need to share some background of how things went at NESA, and since it is quite a lengthy story, I decided to post it in parts. Today, I am sharing Part 1 of this story.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time at NESA last year as a student, one thing I noticed was that it not only proved physically challenging, but emotionally and spiritually taxing as well. While the stressful atmosphere was important in learning how to work on a real life mission, I could not help but feel overwhelmed on occasion and longed for some kind of spiritual conversation with fellow Christians. From talking with my siblings and other close Christian friends who attended last year as well, I realized that we were all desperate for the same thing.

When I discovered that I had been accepted to staff NESA as a team leader this year, I immediately identified it as a mission field. With so many young people in need of the encouragement, I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to share the gospel and love of Christ with the students. Motivated, I began looking for ways that I could prepare myself ahead of time for this mission. Last year when I went to NESA as a student, my mom gave me a stack of 4×6 cards with scripture verses that I could carry with me throughout the week. They meant a great deal to me. This year, I thought I would create some of the same cards for my students. After not-so-much contemplation, I decided to write out each scripture by hand, because I felt like it would be more meaningful written than printed. What I did not take into consideration was the math. If I gave each student one card a day for two weeks, it would equal nearly eighty cards. Since I would have a different team each week, thankfully, I would only need to find forty different scriptures. Finding forty different encouraging scripture verses turned out to be quite the project. However, a much harder project lay ahead. After I had found the scripture verses, I now had to write them. At first, I set aside time during my morning bible study to write out about five verses each day. By the time I had finally found forty verses, I realized that I only had a week left to write the verses. To make matters worse, I was studying for my FAA written exam during that time as well which left me with barely any free time. One evening, I concluded that writing five verses a day was not going to work, so I stopped for about two hours and did nothing but write out the remaining scripture cards. Finally, two days before leaving, I had all eighty cards completed.

So that is Part 1. Part 2 will discuss how the students reacted to receiving the scripture cards, and how the Lord used it to influence other people’s lives, and ultimately, mine. Lord willing, I will post Part 2 soon.

Thoughts From the “Psalm of Praise”

In my study of Psalm 113 this week, God brought to my attention two points that have given me so much joy these past few days.

The first point I came across as I read Psalm 113:3 which says, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” At first, I thought the verse rather strange because I know God does not cease to be praised when the sun sets, for His glory is not hindered by His creation. Then, I thought about how when the sun is rising on one end of the world, it is setting on the other end and vice versa. Technically, the sun never ceases to rise, and in the same way, neither do the praises of God cease to be lifted up! The praises only begin to rise from other nations, tribes, and tongues. Picturing this and realizing how awesome He is that He will forever be receiving praise makes me want to praise Him all the more!

The next day during my study time, I noted that all throughout Psalm 113 there are similar words that have to do with the height of God and His works, such as, “rising”, “high above”, “lifts” and other variations of the word. In the middle of all these “high” words, I read verse 6 which says, “Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in earth?” From previous bible studies, I knew that the word “humble” means “to be made low”, “set in a lower place”, or “become low”. I began to think about how much humility God and His Son Jesus have shown. Why would the King who has all authority and all power humble Himself to look at the things that happen on this little earth? For that matter, why would He even care about what happens on earth and be so ever present in every little thing that happens? Not only does He have an incredible, unfathomable level of humility, but He also has an incredible, unfathomable level of love for His children. This thought struck me as I meditated on what I learned; No one can reach the heights that God can, but at the same time, no one can go as low (in regards to humility) as He can. What a benevolent King He is!

By Streams of Water

This morning I was studying Psalms 1. No doubt, it is one of my most-read chapters in Psalms (and no doubt the most marked-up as well). 🙂 Even still, God continued to bring to light several amazing observations that I had never noticed before. What stood out the most to me this morning, is the verse in Psalm 1:3 which says, “And he (the righteous) will be planted by streams of water…” Throughout the first chapter of Psalms, the author compares the righteous to a tree. However, I never really paid much attention to the little things, like the tree being planted by streams of water. Is it important? This morning, God showed me just how important that little phrase is, because the river is Him! This revelation encouraged me so much this morning, because as a fallible human by nature, I need to be reminded that there’s a river running right alongside me and all the blessings, love, and compassion that runs through that River are flowing straight into my roots and helping me grow and yield fruit that I could never yield on my own. What a beautiful picture! How thankful we can be as children of God to be planted by streams of water!

 

Aviation Timeline – June

Two years ago, beginning Memorial Day weekend, I began my journey into the world of aviation. I thought it would be neat to go through each month covering what I did that month, only two years earlier, that lead me to use my love for aviation as a tool for missionary work. So here’s the beginning of the timeline that started in late May-June two years ago.
Memorial Day Weekend – My family attended a hot air balloon festival and had the opportunity to help a pilot set up and tear down his balloon multiple times throughout the weekend. The pilot even surprised us by giving us a flight in his balloon! I remember one time when we were soaring along a railroad track, I saw a train below and thought it would be fun to see who won the “race”. I was quite surprised and disappointed to see the train win. 🙂 I also can’t say I really liked the idea of not having control of the direction of the balloon. I would’t say I’m a control freak, but when you’re soaring that high above the earth, control is a nice thing to have… reassuring at the least. During our time there I picked up on the fact that many of the balloon pilots were also airplane pilots. I had wanted to fly an airplane as a little girl, but who doesn’t? At first, I figured it as a “child’s dream” and never really pursued it. However, the hot air ballon flight re-lit that tiny spark of love for aviation, and so I asked the pilot (who was also an airplane pilot) how I could earn a pilot’s license. He said to check at our local airport. When we checked the airport we found out that it would be way beyond our budget to begin flight lessons, but the instructor gave us a list of organizations we could look into that would give free flights and also help obtain a basic knowledge of aviation.
June 14th – One of the organizations on the instructor’s list was the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). We visited one of their fly-in breakfasts one Saturday which lead to my first flight in an RV8. I still remember the feeling I had when we took off the runway, and to this day, taking off is my favorite part of the flight! Little did I know how much EAA would help me in learning about aviation in the years to come.
June 22nd – I joined the Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary). I could not begin flying until July, because I had to wait for the paper work to come back in and to receive my uniform, but I could not wait to fly again!

Stay tuned to see what happened in July!

^Pictures from my first flight.^

Last Weekend of WESS

Recently, I read a legend about Napoleon when he had conquered a highly-prized island in the Mediterranean. Afterwards, when Napoleon and his generals were celebrating the victory, a young officer in his army came to speak to Napoleon. “Sir, give me this island,” he said. The generals around Napoleon began to laugh and mock him. Napoleon asked for a pen and paper and to the general’s amazement, he wrote out a deed for the entire island to the young man. “How could you do that? What made him worthy to receive such a gift?” the generals asked. “I gave him this island,” replied Napoleon, “because he honored me by the magnitude of his request.” Sometimes I feel like those generals. In my mind, I limit God and fail to realize the power He has in my life. Lately, I have been trying to break this habit by praying for God to do great deeds that my natural self tells me are not going to happen.

This past WESS weekend God provided a great opportunity for me to practice honoring His power. This opportunity presented itself when our aircrew director told the aircrew school that due to finances, anyone who had completed all their tasks the week before would not be able to fly over the weekend. Needless to say, my wingman and I were very disappointed. Thankfully, the next morning brought about a change of heart as myself and around fifteen other cadets showed up for the morning bible study/prayer meeting. Cadets shared what the Lord was laying on their hearts; words of wisdom, stories of God’s provision, etc. The atmosphere of trust in God helped me to renew my mind. Just before prayer time, I shared a story of how God answered the prayers of a friend of mine and myself during a camping trip a couple weeks before and how much it blessed both of us just knowing that God listens to us and cares about our requests and looks forward to giving us the desires of our heart, no matter how big or small they may be. As I shared this story, something clicked in my mind and I thought back on the disappointing news about the flights. Why did I not ask for Him to allow me to fly this weekend? Confronted with my lack of trust, I challenged each of the cadets in the circle, including myself, to choose something to ask God for during the weekend and eagerly await to see Him answer our prayers. During my prayer I asked God if I could have the opportunity to fly that weekend despite the lack of funds, if it was His will. Once prayer time was over, we split up and headed to our respective courses, anticipating to see God on the move.

Since we had completed all our tasks the week before, my battle buddy and I decided to hang out with the Aerial Photography students and learn some of their tasks, which we had a blast doing. When we were not taking practicing taking photos on the ground, we played the word game “hangman”, which we found out is ten times more fun when you are tired. 🙂  Once the aircrews returned from their sorties that evening, we had our debriefing and listened while the directors made plans for the next day. Just as the meeting was wrapping up, I heard someone mention only two aircrew members instead of three on a sortie. An extra seat?! As soon as the debrief was over I went to the aircrew director and asked if I had heard right about there only being two people on the sortie. He grinned and said yes. “Would it be possible for me to take the place of the third person?” I asked. He laughed and said he could make it happen. I was SO excited! God had answered my prayer!

At 7:30 the next morning I was on my way to the airport for that impossible flight. Even better, I got to fly up front rather than in the back seat where I usually sit as Mission Scanner! This gave me about 30 minutes of practice at the yolk and also gave me the first opportunity to speak directly to Air Traffic Control because the pilot’s radio would not cooperate. By the end of the morning, another flight came up, so I ended up flying two flights in the end. Oh! Later on I learned that my wingman was offered a flight back to her home in Georgia! It never ceases to amaze me how God goes above and beyond to bless His children!

All in all, the weekend was a great success! As the graduation ceremony was about to begin, our crew arrived back at mission base. My sweet mother even brought the rest of the Caliguire Clan to celebrate with us! My father, sisters, brother, and I all graduated from our courses and had a great time going out with friends afterwards to celebrate.

So what did I learn most from WESS? As far as the Emergency Services training is concerned, I must say that I know a great deal more about how to use the sectional chart and preflighting aircraft than I did when I started. Spiritually, God has used WESS, along with other events in the past few months, to give me an opportunity to understand His character on a deeper level. Now more than ever, I realize how much He cares about every intricate detail of our lives and that “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him?”(Matthew 7:11) He is SO amazing and worthy of all our praise!

 

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The Caliguire Clan at Graduation
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Caliguire WESS Graduates
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The Coosa River From Above

Don Richardson & “Redemptive Analogies”

Friday evening I had the opportunity to meet Don Richardson, a missionary from Papua New Guinea! I had read his book Peace Child several years ago, which was my first introduction to the idea of finding “redemptive analogies” to share the gospel with unreached people groups. While reading Peace Child gave me an intro to this idea, his discussion yesterday made it much clearer, and to be truthful, excited me all the more about reaching people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus! So what is this idea of “redemptive analogy”? Mr. Richardson says that among tribal civilizations, there are hidden traditions, stories, or understandings, which point towards God and salvation through Jesus Christ. He first realized this during his time with the Sawi tribe in PNG and tells what happened in his book Peace Child. If you plan to read the book, I suggest that you do not read further so I don’t spoil the story for you. If you don’t plan on reading it anytime soon, or already have, feel free to read my super condensed version of the story. 🙂 Anyways, Don and his wife Carol struggled to explain the sacrifice of Jesus, to this head-hunting, cannibalistic tribe that honored treachery above all else. Mr. Richardson said, “In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.” One day, two of the three tribes who had come to live close by, began fighting each other and realizing that their presence only made matters worse. Don and Carol prepared to leave and move their work elsewhere. Don had diligently spoke with the warriors and tried to bring peace, but they told him that he didn’t understand. Later on the night that he broke the news of their departure, representatives from each tribe came to him and told him that peace would be made. The next day, the two tribes made peace by giving a baby boy, or “peace child” to the other tribe to raise. According to tradition, this was the only way a lasting peace could be made between tribes. While it was a heart-wrenching ceremony, Don finally saw the way to explain the sacrifice God made by sending Jesus, the ultimate “peace child” to make peace between God and mankind. When Don shared this with the tribes, they finally understood the significance of salvation through Jesus Christ. According to Mr. Richardson, Judas’ ratings dropped a huge deal when they realized that he had killed a peace child. 🙂 Shortly afterwards, many in the tribe began to follow Jesus and today this tribe not only teaches their own tribe about Him, but has brought four other nearby villages to Christ! This is one of the best examples I have heard so far of the redemptive analogy, but there are many more out there. A matter of fact, Don Richardson has a book  called “Eternity in their Hearts” which is entirely devoted to discussing and giving examples of how this method has been used since biblical times to open doors to sharing the gospel.

What I heard this weekend was very encouraging in a couple ways. For one, it is uplifting to know that God goes ahead of us, preparing the work of missionaries, often times with an analogy that opens the door to sharing the gospel. It is nice to know that we are not the first to come into these tribes with the Good News…God has already been there. Secondly, it is inspiring to hear of the joy God gives these new believers and the passion they have to go share the Good News with others once they have been released from darkness! Their testimony pricks my conscience to realize what kind of passion I should have to share the gospel since I have been released from that same darkness myself!

There was so much more discussed, but I thought I would only choose the highlights. To wrap it up, I just want to say that I am so thankful to God for all that He has done lately in missions! I am especially excited to see how He is giving people the desire to reach out to those who have not heard His name and to become His ambassadors “to the ends of the earth”.

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Raising Missions Support…8 Years Ago

Our family has a birthday tradition where each child, when they turn ten, receives a hope chest handmade by our dad. This hope chest stores memoirs, keepsakes, and items we want to save for when we have homes of our own one day. A couple times a year, I will go through my hope chest, looking through the memories from years ago and also adding new items to the collection. This past week I found a three ringed binder from years ago that I had turned into a biography of our family. It was quite funny to see what my thoughts were about my family at ten years old!  Flipping through it, I found a reference of my first try at support raising for becoming a missionary…which couldn’t have had better timing since that is what I have been working on lately. Reading through the bio on my sisters and I, I was reminded of the childlike faith and trust that we had, and should continue to have, in our “Big Savior”.

Please excuse the bad spelling and grammar. Thankfully, these are not an issue anymore. 🙂

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Prayer Request/Praise Report

Prayer Request: This week I have a great deal of writing and editing to do in order to complete my college application, a scholarship application, and letters to friends and family to request support. Please pray that I will be a wise steward of my time and that God will give me the words to write that will bless others and increase support.

Praise Report: I had the blessing of spending some great quality time with one of my sisters this weekend at a conference. It was a lot of fun, just the two of us, getting to know each other’s quirks and heart’s desires even more. I am also thankful that God protected us on the road, as it was my first time driving a considerable distance without my parents.

Thank you for your prayers!