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! 😀