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!


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.