6.29 / Port St. Joes

Over the past week, some exciting things have happened in PSJ!

A few days ago, LC and Katherine (who is from our Apalach team) bumped into each other at a McDonald’s in PSJ! As they were sitting in one of the booths, they pulled out their Bibles to read some Scripture. Before they knew it, two employees came over to their table. These women wanted to know if LC and Kat were believers! They had seen the Bibles out on the table and were intrigued. So our girls told them that yes, they are believers. The two employees were so excited because they were ALSO believers!! They chatted for a while and ended up exchanging their testimonies and encouraging each other. How amazing is that?! This brightened our team’s eyes because people recognize that they are different, not just because they’re Auburn college students.

Through this encounter, the girls learned that there is a Bible study that goes on at the gym they volunteer for in PSJ! So that was encouraging news to hear, and maybe our current or future teams can get involved with this.

Speaking of the gym, our team is getting more into the swing of volunteering there every day. They play games, lead group times, and push the children to learn during their tutoring lessons. This becomes pretty exhausting, but with an eternal perspective, they know that they are making an impact. Pray for the team as they try to love on and lead the children a step closer to Christ each day. Pray that they will have this mindset each and every day at the gym- that they will see the unbelieving children and workers as lost souls, longing to be found. Although there have been more biting-incidents, they are learning more about unconditional love and sacrifice.

For those who intern at one of the local churches, there have been many Vacation Bible Schools going on! They have volunteered as counselors and helped out in whatever way they can. They also help in daycare programs that some of the churches have.

When the team is hanging out, they are often at Long Avenue church. They have become really close with the pastors and other staff members. These fellow believers have demonstrated to our team what it’s like to serve the Lord after college. One area that these believers excel in is discipling and leading the youth in the community. Our team has had the blessing of helping out with the youth group and getting to know the students involved. Basketball pick-up games, Sunday mornings, and youth nights have proven to be really growing times for our team with these youth. One of the guys even woke up at 6 this morning to go play a basketball game with a group of guys from the church!

A handful of the girls in the youth group already knew one of our members who had been to PSJ in past summers, so she has been able to pour more and more into them this summer. It’s been such a sweet time of discipling them and showing them more of Jesus.

Since the guys have played a bunch of games with the boys in the youth group, friendships are forming quickly. Something about guys playing sports together..! So it’s been neat for them to form these relationships. They are hoping for an opportunity to share with these youth soon. Please join us in prayer over them that The Lord will open doors for Gospel conversations.

This past Tuesday, along with every Tuesday, the team went to a local nursing home. This experience has taught them a lot about unconditional love. Many of those in the nursing home have dementia, so it can be challenging to carry conversations. Pray for them as they fight lies that their volunteerism here is not making any difference. The ways of the Lord are sometimes unknown to us, but we can trust His intentions and plans for us!

In closing, it has been encouraging for the team to see how the Lord has used past summer projects to form doorways for solid relationships. He has truly paved the way for this summer’s team and we are excited to see how He will use this team for future summer projects.

Recap Prayer List:

  1. Gym and Church Volunteers- Pray for the team as they volunteer at the gym and at the churches each day. Ask the Lord to give them His energy, love, and joy. Pray that they will be filled with the Spirit each day.
  2. Children at the Gym and VBS- Pray for the children and youth who go to the gym each day and who attend the VBS programs. Many of them don’t know Jesus, and our team has the opportunity to freely share Truth with them. Pray that they will see Christ in our team, ask questions, and come to know Jesus as their own Lord and Savior!
  3. Youth Group- Pray for the youth group at each of the churches in PSJ, including at Long Avenue. Pray that the churches will be teaching God’s Truth and that it will impact the lives of the youth. Pray that God will open their hearts and minds to understand and choose to follow Jesus.
  4. Nursing Home- Pray for those in the nursing home, that they will see the Light in our team. Pray for the team to speak Truth, and to love unconditionally, even when it gets tough and feels pointless. Pray that they will think on things that are above.
  5. New Believers- Pray BOLDLY for people to come to know Christ. We do not underestimate God’s power, purpose, and plan in PSJ. Ask Him to move mightily in this town. Pray boldly, friends, for we have a BOLD God.

Thank you for committing to pray over this team. Each of our summer projects would fail without the Lord’s hand guiding and providing. He is mighty, worthy, and beautiful. And He hears your every prayer.

-The Port St. Joes

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6.29 / Final Weeks of Greece

Six weeks have flown by. It is bittersweet to write this last post as this chapter is coming to a close.

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Our final week started with goodbyes at the church. Families were relocated, and the church left on a retreat for the rest of the week. So for the last few days, our church team helped with construction at another refugee camp outside of Athens. They helped build a shop to give refugees an opportunity to buy needed clothing. The community there greeted our team warmly, with many refugees ready to help work with them! Beautiful stories were shared over food and tea, and the church team got to meet several believers from the Middle East. The Holy Spirit is working in this camp and it was so encouraging to be a part of this ministry.

The team that has been teaching English and leading children’s programs finished up their last day. Over these past 6 weeks, there was a core of consistent volunteers here with whom our team formed relationships. It was bittersweet to play the last round of duck-duck-goose and finish the English lessons, but the Lord has provided so faithfully for this team. If you recall, a few weeks ago this group did not know if they would be able to go back into the camp again. While proper documentation was never received, somehow every single day this team got to go back and teach. None of this was our own doing, but purely a gift from God! We rejoiced in His provision for continuing ministry there.

Now as our adventure in Greece has come to a close, we reflect on the Lord’s provision.

We are so thankful for the accommodations and hospitality of Operation Mobilization. They are doing amazing work here and we had the privilege of being a part of the greater picture. Serving under them was a joy. During our ministry, we encountered people from about 20 different countries. It was such a sweet taste of what heaven will be like! We take comfort in the fact that because of Christ’s sacrifice, we will see these wonderful people in heaven, if not before, like one big family reunion.

The Holy Spirit truly moved across many barriers and allowed us to build relationships with people in the camps and the church. We all come from so many different parts of the world and live such different lives, yet we were able to form deep friendships. We pray that these friendships will continue on.

We experienced the refugee crisis in a whole new way through these relationships. The crisis is so real and the people you see on TV or in an advertisement are real. They are people like me and you who long for comfort and peace. Pray for those who have not yet found the comfort and peace in our Lord.

Pray, pray, pray. We ask that you would continue to pray for the refugees not only in Greece, but also around the world. Pray for the governments and countries receiving refugees. Pray for the organizations going into refugee camps, that the Lord would provide willing and able hands and feet. Pray for the refugees- that whatever their situations are, the Lord would reveal Himself. Pray that the Lord will open the hearts of refugees who are lost, and bring them to Himself.

We are so grateful for the opportunities and experiences we had in Greece. All glory to God for His mighty works there, with and without us. We are excited to see the ways He will continue to work.

Thank you for your prayers during these past 6 weeks. We would not have been able to do anything without the Spirit’s power at work. Now we ask that you pray for us as we return to the States. It’s hard coming back after being in such an intense learning and growing environment. Please pray that we would bring home the lessons God taught us. Pray that we will continue drawing near to our Savior, for He is the same God we experienced in Greece as He is in the U.S.

Love,

the Greece Team

6.28 / East ‘Bae’sians Return

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It’s hard to believe we are home after 6 weeks in East Asia! Our last week was bittersweet as we said goodbye to our new friends and packed our suitcases to head back to America. There were definitely some tears as we parted from each friend, but we trust that the Lord is sovereign. We are looking forward to sharing how He has blessed us and grown us through our time in East Asia. His plans for our time there were immeasurably more than we could have imagined.

Although we are now home, we know the Father’s work is not finished. We would love for you to be praying for the following:

  1. Our Unbelieving Friends: Pray for the friends we made who have not yet chosen to follow Jesus (Amanda, Samantha, Maggie, Tim, Damian, Jim, Sean, Will, Bryan, Isaac, Gabe, Tyler, and Ben).
  2. Our Believing Friends: Pray for our fellow believers in East Asia, that they will be bold and share with those around them. Pray that they spur one another on in their faith.
  3. Missionaries: Pray that more believers will move to East Asia in order to continue spreading the Gospel to those who have not heard. We have seen first hand how the harvest is PLENTIFUL, but the laborers are few.
  4. Impact: Pray that we will remember the amazing lessons the Lord taught us during our trip. Pray that we will be permanently impacted and changed.
  5. International Students: Pray that we will be spurred on to reach out to international students in Auburn, and wherever else we go. They are here and many have not heard the good news of Jesus. Pray that we seize opportunities to share.

Thank you so much for your commitment to pray for our group over these past 6 weeks. We know that the Lord heard each and every prayer and we feel so blessed to have had everyone’s support while we’ve been away.

-The East ‘Bae’sians

 

6.27 / Half a trip left – Apalach

Update on the adventures in Apalach!

The team has been going through the “One Another” phrases in the New Testament, and there are 59 of them!! Not to say they’ve worked through all of them, but recently they’ve focused on “love one another” and “honor one another above yourselves.” Focusing and practicing these things has made a huge impact on them as a community of believers. Honoring each other above themselves is more than just doing the dishes – Jesus humbled Himself by washing the disciples feet- even those of a disciple who would soon betray Him. What a perfect example He is. So praise the Lord for His awesome works within the group!

Here’s more from our Apalach team!

“We have started up Saturday night block parties to play kickball with our neighbors! Fellow believers in Apalach are helping us put on these events in the neighborhoods and we’re so thankful! Pray that people will come to these games so we have the chance to love on them and show them Christ. Pray for the fellow believers helping us- that they will be equipped to continue this ministry once we’re gone.

Recently, we volunteered with a VBS! Many of the children had a difficult time listening and being self-controlled, so that really tested us. We learned a lot about patience and loving them even when we didn’t feel like it. Some of these children do not get much affection anywhere else, so we were thankful for the opportunity to show them the unconditional love and patience that the Father has for us.

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Please come alongside us in praying that we would not lose fervor in this final month. We’re at a halfway point in our trip so it is becoming easy to be complacent and in a routine of comfort. But we only have 1 more month!! We have been blessed with deepening the relationships we have formed at work, but we ask that you pray that these will blossom and become friendships that go beyond our places of work. Also, we’ve had opportunities to share the Gospel with several of these coworkers, so praise the Lord! Pray that these will continue and take root in the locals’ hearts. Boldly ask the Lord to reveal Himself to our coworkers and others we meet. Pray for the salvation of these people.

Pray that we will have fresh eyes – seeing others’ souls and remembering the urgency of the Gospel. We have so enjoyed our time in Apalach and look hopefully into the second half!!”

Prayer Request Re-cap:

  1. Block Parties: Pray that neighbors will come to these block parties, that our team will have the opportunity to love on them and show them Christ.
  2. Local Believers: Pray for our fellow believers here in Apalach that the Lord will equip them to carry on the ministry that the Lord is starting here.
  3. Fervor: Pray that we would be on fire for the Lord for the rest of the summer (and beyond). Pray that we would not lose sight of our purpose on this earth.
  4. Relationship Building: Pray that the Lord will move in the relationships that have formed between us and coworkers / other locals. Pray that He would open their hearts and minds and draw them to Himself.

We are grateful for your prayers! Our Father hears and answers!

-Apalach team

6.22 / Over in Denver

Last week, Cameron traveled to visit our team in Denver. They were encouraged, uplifted, and challenged by his visit and were thankful for the time with him!

It was a busy week for our team since everyone now has a job. They all go off in different directions during the day, which can be a challenge. That’s because their time together as a group is limited and when they do have moments together, they’re often tired from the long day or week. Please pray for these team members in their busy schedules. Pray that the group will find or make time for each other amidst tiredness. Pray that their relationships continue to grow into healthy community.

Also ask the Lord to bless their work relationships. These have been growing over the summer and we ask for opportunities and boldness. Pray for wisdom and that the Lord will give the team the words to speak.

Many of the team members have had opportunities for deep conversations with people at work or out-and-about. They have been able to invite the people they meet to Cypress (the church plant in Denver that our team is working alongside this summer)!

One exciting bit of news is that the Lord has allowed the guys to meet some new friends out in Denver. They all met while playing basketball out in Washington Park! The guys spoke to these new friends about Jesus and what He has done for us. And they invited them to come to Cypress with the team! They have played basketball with these guys several more times, so we are thankful for these friendships. We are hopeful that they will be receptive of and softened to the Gospel and decide to check out the church. Pray that these new friendships will continue to grow toward Christ. Pray boldly that they will come into a relationship with Him.

Keep sending up prayers to our Father asking Him to change hearts in Denver. Pray that He will continue bringing the team to meet people and deepen relationships. That opportunities to share the Gospel may be in abundance.

Prayer Request Re-cap:

  1. Busyness: Pray that the team will find time to spend together. That this summer would be filled with vibrant community. That their relationships with God will be strengthened and fruitful.
  2. Work Relationships: Pray that relationships at work will continue growing in a godly manner. Ask God to open doors and empower the team to speak truth.
  3. Invitations: Pray for those whom the team has invited to Cypress. Pray that they will be open to the idea and decide to give it a try. Ask the Lord to open their hearts and minds to Him.
  4. New Friends: Pray for the new friends the guys have made. Pray that they will be receptive of the Gospel and choose to follow Christ!
  5. Changed Hearts: Pray boldly for the Lord to move and work in the hearts of the Denver community. Pray that He will bring the lost to Himself.

 

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16b

 

6.22 / Faith like a Child in the Port

Recent update from our Port St. Joe team involves a sweet story about our Father and childlike faith. Read the cute and glorifying interaction between one of our PSJ team members and a couple of kindergartners.

“It all began on a bus ride back from the movies. The 4-6 year olds at the gym we volunteer at took a field trip to see none other than Captain Underpants, and I tagged along as a chaperone. The group of us piled into the bus after the movie and I ended up sitting between Kimber and Aleah (2 ADORABLE little girls who love braiding hair, playing with my phone, and asking lots and lots of questions).

Aleah was holding my hand when she noticed the small cross tattoo on my wrist. I typically wear a watch over it, but that morning I happened to forget it at home. Aleah saw it and said, “That’s God!” And I gave her a big smile and said, “Yes, yes it is!” She immediately asked me a long string of questions about whether I went to church and if I prayed. I told her that I love gathering with the church and that I pray all the time! I asked her if she did the same. She told me she didn’t and then started talking about something else.

I was a little upset because I wanted that conversation to continue, but I figured it was best to listen to what she wanted to talk about and see if I could loop it back around to the Gospel. Time went on and the window of opportunity seemed to vanish altogether. But all of a sudden, Kimber (the other little girl) saw my T-shirt. She tried to read the words on my shirt out loud, “I… heart… adop-… adop- what does that word say?” A wave of excitement came as I told her the word, “Adoption!”

She asked me what ‘adoption’ means, and I explained that when a baby doesn’t have parents to take care of it, a family can adopt the baby and raise it as their own child. Kimber fell in love with the idea and wanted to know if I could adopt her. I laughed, “No silly! I can’t adopt you! But do you know who can?” And she wondered who so I told her, “God can!” Aleah then piped up and asked me who God was, and we talked about how He created the whole world – the grass, the trees, humans, Aleah’s hair, and even fidget spinners (which might be a bit far-fetched, but they were interested, so I was rolling with it!).

Then I tried to explain in kindergarten terms how much God loves us and that when we believe in Jesus, God can adopt us into His family, and we get to become His sons and daughters! The Holy Spirit was moving like wildfire in our row of seats. Kimber proceeded to ask me a dozen more questions about going to church and what happens when we die. One of her questions, “Why do people praise Jesus” stuck out to me the most. I started to answer her when she added, “Is it because He did everything for us?”

Yes, yes, yes. It is because King Jesus has done everything for us. My heart was so full in that moment. It’s amazing how God can take a school bus, a tattoo, and an old T-shirt to reveal His Gospel to two small children.

Aleah left for the rest of the summer after the field trip, but I look forward to following up with Kimber and seeing what other bizarre yet beautiful ways the Spirit will move through our ministry at the gym.

All glory be to His name.”

-Savannah

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Here’s a glimpse of what the gym looks like and what we do during game – time!

How sweet it is to watch God reveal Himself to even the smallest of us.
In light of this, please join the PSJ team in praying over these requests:

1. Pray for both Aleah and Kimber as they have learned more about God. Pray that they may come to know Him personally.
2. Pray for more opportunities like this one to pop up as they reach out to the children at the gym.
3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of everyone the PSJ team meets.
4. Pray for the team to be filled with the Spirit each day and walk in His power.
5. Pray for God to provide living accommodations for the girls on the team.

Thank you for your prayers this week! Keep them coming, the Lord is moving!

6.20 / Last week in the East

It’s time for an update of this past week in East Asia!

“Last Friday morning we went to a local high school and helped in an English class! We showed the class pictures of our families and what we like to do for fun! The class seemed to enjoy that. We also taught them a game called “the cup game.” By the response we got, we are pretty sure that they will be playing this game for years to come!! At the end of the day, we led small discussion groups to help the students practice their English! They had no problem asking questions about our lives and they freely filled us in on life here in East Asia. We are thrilled we had this opportunity to dive into their lives in such a unique way!

After our trip to the high school, we went to teach English yet again at a camp in another city! Our team along with a believer who lives in the area got to teach about 20 students who ranged from 5 – 18 years old. We really enjoyed exploring another area outside of our main city! During camp we sand songs and played games to help them learn shapes, colors, and numbers! We also had some time for small group discussions and another time for reading. The last day we volunteered at the camp, a local family invited us to come visit their farm. From holding BABY GOATS and SHEEP (#lambs) to climbing nearby sand dunes, you could say we had a pretty good time..!! The family prepared a home-cooked meal for us that was delicious! We even had a chance to share a story from the Bible with the family. What a unique opportunity this was and we so enjoyed all the adventures that this day held!”

Prayer Request List:

  1. The Children – Please pray for both the children from the high school and the children from the English camp. As far as we know, none of them know Christ.
  2. Family on the farm – Pray for the family that invited us to their farm. We do not think they are believers either. We got to share a Bible story with them, so please pray that the Spirit will miraculously move and shed light on the Truth to them.
  3. The Believer – Pray for the fellow believer who helped us in the camp. She is the only Christian in her area. Please pray that our Father will give her perseverance to continue His work. Pray also that more people in her area will turn their lives over to Christ.
  4. College Friends – Pray for our college friends who are hesitant to follow Christ. Pray that we will have the chance to hang out with them more and continue being a light to them.
  5. Intentional – Pray that our team will be so intentional and persistent in the time we have left (less than a week). Pray that the Spirit will open the eyes of these people to see His Truth and love!
  6. Safe Travels – We will be heading home in less than a week. Pray that we have safe and smooth travels back to the States!

Thank you for your prayers! The team has one more week in East Asia before they head home on Monday (June 26th). We trust that the Lord’s plans are perfect and we’re excited to see what He has in store this week!

-The East ‘Bae’sians