STSM HIGHLIGHTS (Part 2 of 7)
Today we continue with part two our seven-part series called STSM Highlights! We’ll be sharing new mission testimonies every week from each of our STSM 2K18 teams.
Today’s highlight is the Ecuador team, featuring Sarah Limb and Daniel Rou! If you want to access the rest of Ecuador team’s testimonies, click here.
Sarah Limb (Senior, UCSD)
I was able to go on missions this past summer by God’s grace and sovereignty. Looking back on my college career, it is amazing to see His faithfulness through all the ups and downs that led me to commit to Him and missions. I grew up in the church and went on missions before, but college provided a space for me to both challenge and discover my identity. Through all the rebellion and changes I went through, I am so thankful to be in God’s arms as a servant of Christ by the end of it all. Though I had many times of unwillingness to surrender to God, His steadfast love has transformed me to pursue His glory. After serving in church and KCM, I decided to go on missions because it was finally time to serve God in a capacity that gives up my time and energy, even at the cusp of the infamous post-grad transition – all for His glory to be known across the nations.
Through all the ministry work in Ecuador, I learned that God’s sovereignty covers all people and their lives. Whether or not there were direct fruit and results from the people we reached out to, our ministry work is all just a small part in God’s greater plan for these people. Wherever ministry was on the spectrum of effectiveness and efficiency, it did not matter what we did in our own strength because God uses whatever seeds to grow in His perfect timing. Through all the random open air ministry, VBS, English camps, manual labor, and intentional conversations in both the urban and rural communities, God’s glory was revealed. At first, it was difficult to have a heart for Ecuador due to the nature of the trip being relocated last minute, but through God’s sovereignty, it was clear to see that there is a rising generation of followers of Christ just waiting to happen. It was amazing to even have the opportunity to do kingdom work and to be available as His stewards in the greater story planned for the Ecuadorian people. I have hope in our great God that the broken and weary in Ecuador will be able to turn to Him in His timing. Another aspect of ministry was that the schedule was pretty ambiguous. We would not know what we were doing until the day of sometimes. But the “go with the flow” motto that was used more often than not was applied throughout the whole trip. As I reflected on it more, I realized that at its core essence, it really means to let go of control. I started to think about other aspects of my life that I have a need for control in, and one of them was definitely my future. As someone heading into post-grad, I hold onto so many things that I want to happen, and it is a daily battle to surrender it all to the Lord. Overall in learning these two components, it is important to recognize that trusting in God’s sovereignty and letting go of control play hand-in-hand in this Christian life.
In addition to ministry work, we also had a lot of down and quiet time. I remember in our daily commutes to our church sites, I would have these moments to rest, reflect, and pray. It was in this quiet time that I was able to draw close to God in thought and prayer. I truly believe that God interceded into my thoughts during these times, as He revealed so much about His glory and my sins. In this time, God gave me a lot of peace about post-grad: lifting up my anxieties and trusting in His greater plan for me. He also called to my attention that I was very close-minded with my future – creating a set path for myself. He opened my eyes to the fact that I had certain milestones I expected to happen within my own timetable, which again is a need for control. I really asked myself: who am I living for? God or me? I could be doing all the right things but at the end of the day, I still wanted what I thought would make me happy. I aimed to be a follower of Christ while being blinded by my own need for autonomy. God revealed to me that I was trying to fit Him into my picture instead of recognizing that my life was made to glorify Him. In these moments of clarity, I became more open-minded with my life with whatever God gives me. I learned that I must serve with every present moment and ministry available around me for His glory, whether that is with the local community or overseas doing mission work. With His greater plan, I could be called to serve anywhere at any point in my lifetime, and I want to be obedient to it. It is a daily struggle thinking about how I can avoid complacency, but mindfulness and spiritual rest are necessary to keep going. Being disciplined and asking myself, ‘how can I live for God today?” will propel me forward. I acknowledge that it will be difficult, but being faithful in the little things grows over time. Through the Word, prayer, and accountability, I will be reminded of His grace and His calling of picking up my cross and following Him daily, in whatever situation He has perfectly placed me in for His greater glory.
Daniel Rou (Freshman, UCSD)
This summer I had the opportunity to serve God overseas in Ecuador and through the trip I was able to suffer and rejoice for His glory.
For me, the choice to go on missions wasn’t a complicated one because I simply desired to serve God by going on missions. I was at an event called “Higher Calling” when God convicted me to step out in faith and sign up to be sent out to His fields where the workers are few, but the harvest is plentiful. There was slight hesitation because of my own worries regarding school and finances, but God reminded me of His faithfulness last year when I went to Cambodia for missions and how He taught me to place all my trust in Him. So, I submitted my application for this STSM program where God’s glory has reigned over every step of the process.
Suffering produces steadfastness, builds perseverance, and blesses me with the opportunity to fully rely on God. Throughout my life, God has humbled me by showing me how small I am in this world, how insignificant my life is, and how, as King Solomon would say, “everything is meaningless.” But through this trip, God revealed to me how big He is and how real His presence is in this world. He also taught me the importance of reading His Word and how to have genuine conversations with Him in my daily life. He taught me all these things and so much more, ultimately so that I would truly know what it means to live for Him and what that looks like; all this coming through suffering.
My biggest struggle that taught me how to live for Him serves as a testimony of faith and healing. Coming into this program, I was terrified of man and their perception/judgment of me along with my own perception/judgement of myself. So for months I lived in fear, self-condemnation, and guilt as I struggled to remind myself of the saving grace that forgives my sins and makes me righteous before God. But the truth of the Gospel hadn’t brought the transformation in my life I needed until we got to Ecuador. It was through the ministry and my leaders that the phrase “God is my only audience,” and the saving grace of the cross, became a transformative truth in my life. Because of this, I am able to remind myself daily that my conscience is clear because Jesus’ blood has washed away my sins and imperfections. I am able to proclaim the Gospel to myself knowing that I am a broken sinner whom God has gifted His sufficient grace upon. This suffering has allowed me to rejoice in His goodness and sovereignty by enabling me to live boldly for His glory and do His work free from any hindrances or chains.
Having received the call to go into ministry, I initially thought that through these things God was preparing me for ministry and leadership. But He humbled me and made me realize that I need to learn what it means to be a true disciple and servant of Christ first. I always said that I would be able to die for the Lord, but I don’t believe that one can truly know what it means to die for the Lord unless they fully understand what it means to live for the Lord. These were the ways in which God has molded me this summer through this trip.
I now look to retain the lessons, experiences, and blessings God has given me through the program, missionaries, ministries, people of Ecuador, and my team so that I may be better equipped to live a life that has one sole purpose: to glorify Him.
Applications for STSM 2K19 will go live on February 17th! #GO