STSM Highlights (Part 5 of 7)
Today we continue with part five our seven-part series called STSM Highlights! We’ll be sharing new mission testimonies every week from each of our STSM 2K18 teams.
Next up is our North India team, featuring Elisabeth Kwon and Alice Namgoong! Check out the article for their testimonies! If you want to access the rest of North India’s testimonies, click here.
Elisabeth Kwon (Junior, UCSB)
Jaimasihki! This summer I had the honor and privilege to be a part of God’s work in North India. I decided to go on missions this year because I felt that God was calling me to gain a bigger perspective of how He is working in different parts of the world. I went into this training process with doubts in how God could work in a broken country like India, where 98% of its people are Hindu. But I was so wrong to doubt Him because I first-handedly witnessed how amazing and powerful God is and how He is able to work in a broken country like India.
Like I said before, going into this trip I had my doubts. I had already put God into a little box even before giving Him the chance to show me what He was capable of. When I stepped off that plane in India, my heart and spirit had become closed off to depending on Him and I began to lean on my own strength, especially when it came to ministry. I foolishly thought that through my own sheer will power and persistence I would be able to bring all these people to Jesus. I poured out my heart and energy to the children there during VBS/skits/crafts, but by the end of the first full day of ministry, I was already so drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I began to question how would I do this for a whole month when I couldn’t even survive one day. God immediately rebuked me in that moment, showing me how foolish and prideful I was to think that I could do this on my own and I’m so glad He did. I was able to open up my heart and depend only on Him and for the next 28 days in India, I prayed every morning that He would give me strength. God showed me the power of submission, by realizing how weak and incapable I was and by submitting everything to Him, He would be able to bring the Indian people one step closer to salvation.
I want to share one specific moment of this trip that really blessed me. During the travel portion of our trip, we had stopped at a McDonald’s in Agra for dinner. As I was waiting for my food to come out, I made eye contact with a little boy who seemed out of place in the restaurant. I could see that he had money in his hands but his eyes showed that he did not know where to go to order so I pointed him towards the end of line. He nodded his head in thanks and I thought that was the end of our interaction, but as our team sat down to eat, the little boy came and asked if he could sit down at one of the empty seats at our table. I told him that it was more than okay and so he sat down and told us his story. This boy was only around 8 or 9 years old, but his father had passed away so he needed to make money for his sick mother and little sisters by selling magnets on the streets. My heart immediately broke for this little boy. I knew children his age in America who only thought about the next toy they wanted but this was the reality of this little boy’s life and other children exactly like him in India. And to top it all off, he did not know who Jesus was and probably would never hear the Gospel. Then, in that moment, God spoke to me. He told me, “Elisabeth, I want you to buy this little boy an ice cream cone and tell him about me.” And I obeyed. I bought him the ice cream cone and began to share the Gospel with Him. At first he didn’t understand a single thing we were saying because of his limited English, but in the end we were able to translate one phrase to him with the limited Hindi we learned: God loves you. As we were leaving the McDonald’s, this little boy followed us outside and as we were getting into our tuk-tuks, he waved goodbye and said, “God loves me.” As simple as this phrase may seem, I knew in that moment it embodied the whole message of the Gospel because God DOES love us, and the evidence of that love was Jesus dying on that cross. I can’t even begin to explain the emotions I felt in that moment. A wave of helplessness hit me as I knew that this was the extent of what I could do for this little boy. But God reassured me that this was enough. The seed had been planted and it was now in His hands to work in this little boy’s life and water the seed that had been planted in his heart. I came out of this experience blessed and dependent on God more than ever because I needed to trust that God would protect and mature this little boy as he grew up.
All I could do on this trip was show the Indian people the love that God showed me. He loves me despite all my brokenness and I learned that I need to do the same to others. By showing them Christ-like love, I was able to evangelize in the best way possible because this was all I was capable of. I am not capable of working miracles or am equipped to pastor these people but I AM capable of submitting myself to the Lord and letting Him use me in anyway to further His Kingdom. God will do the rest because I trust and know that He is a powerful God who loves the lost and urges them to come back home. Loving on people does not just mean during overseas missions but also to the people back home who I see on a daily basis. I am called to be a missionary everywhere I go and so I plan on loving the people here in America, starting with friends, family and through serving faithfully in SBKCM.
Alice Namgoong (Sophomore, UCLA)
My name is Alice Namgoong and I am an upcoming junior at UCLA. This past summer, I was given the privilege to go on a short-term missions trip to North India with 2 leaders and 13 other college students.
Prior to this missions trip and training, even though I was exposed to the gospel, church, and a Christian community, I was a young Christian who was new to the faith and was very unaware of the Great Commission and of what missions was. I didn’t even know what it meant to be a Christian and to have an intimate relationship with God. Looking back now, God was always actively working in my life and stretching out His hand to me, but I was the one who was unwilling to grasp that hand and to live a life of glorifying Him. Unlike many other STSMers, I grew up in a non-Christian family, and it wasn’t until college that I was exposed to many believers who taught me what it meant to be a daughter of Christ. During my sophomore year, my faith for Him grew exponentially, and it was the first time I ever found a desire to seek the Lord through His word and prayer and the first time I gained the boldness to go out and evangelize on my campus.
Eventually, through this growth and through prayer, I suddenly felt as if God was calling me to go on missions. Yes, I did feel the calling and conviction, but I was filled with fear because I knew that my family would never let me go. Knowing my family, it was nearly impossible! I prayed to God daily saying, “God, if you really are calling me to go this summer, I trust that you will make it possible.” Miraculously though, God answered my prayers and efforts, and He opened so many doors and softened many hearts to allow me to apply to the KCM STSM program. The day I finally got the “ok” from my family, I cried. I cried tears of joy. Even throughout the entire training process and until the day we left at the airport, I struggled a lot with receiving my family’s full blessing to allow me to go, but through God’s grace I went to India for my first missions trip.
India was beautiful. Because God showed me how much of a privilege it was to know and serve Him before leaving, I naturally found joy in everything I did. Every single day of the whole entire month was a new and exciting experience for me. My heart fluttered (haha). I woke up every morning, looking forward to see how God was moving in North India and was ready for God to use me in any way for His kingdom. Although North India was very physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding, strangely, I wasn’t as drained as I would normally be. I am definitely one of the least qualified people to go and do God’s work, but I can confidently say that it was through God’s grace and strength that I was able to do so.
One of the most significant things that I took away from this month was that we cannot do anything without God. As Christians, this may sound like something that all of us know, but not many of us fully trust in and submit to God. Being a student who loves having things run accordingly to as I plan, I always took control of the things in my life. Through STSM training and North India though, it was the first time I truly was able to recognize my brokenness and depend on God. I am constantly amazed at how much God does for such sinful and broken people like us.
God humbled me through the people of India, my team leaders and teammates, and also through our ministry by showing that He was present and that everything was part of His ultimate plan. The Christians of India are crazy. They are very mucho freaking crazy (in a good way!). I have never ever seen such passionate believers who are willing to sacrifice and live their lives for God. When these people pray and worship, they pray so earnestly and desperately. I asked myself, “Why? What makes their prayers and worships so different?” I realized that it was because they were able to fully understand that they cannot do anything without God, and that in this land of brokenness, all they can do is to rely on God. These people are perfect examples of what it means to live a Christ-centered life, and being thankful and joyful in doing so. Along the same lines, something that my team leaders stressed throughout the entire trip was trusting in God. Seeing how much they asked God for strength and how they let God take control of our trip challenged me to do the same. In terms of ministry, nothing was ever guaranteed to follow a certain schedule or to be handled in a certain way, so my team had to be adaptable and ready for any changes. Within any spontaneity that God has brought to our ministry, my team rarely questioned anything and responded with positive, serving hearts. In addition, our trip overall went very smoothly with no major changes or difficulties, and I strongly believe it was because of God’s guiding hand over us.
Something that I struggled a lot with was giving all the glory to Christ. In India, because we had such a heavy schedule of ministry, I tended to focus on getting what needs to be done, done. During times of VBS, when we had large crowds of kids, I sometimes defined their loud responses and laughs as a level of how well I was doing in ministry. As MC as well, I would get nervous of saying wrong things or making mistakes, but sometimes what kept me going was knowing the fact that I was serving God. At the moment, I thought I was serving God, but in the end, I was glorifying myself and trying to build up on my “resume” by continuously serving God in different ways. Thankfully, my teammates helped me to check my heart before, during, and after ministry. I realized that ultimately, God doesn’t need me to do this, God doesn’t need me to do that. God doesn’t define us based on how many works we do. Who am I to put myself in the center of everything and to build up my own tower? God is more than deserving to receive all the glory and honor, and should be the center of our lives.
Aside from these things, God really opened my eyes to the urgency and need for more faithful servants. Not only did God break my heart for the poverty and the physical needs in India, but He also broke my heart for the 98% non-Christians that were zealously dedicating their lives to other idols. Amidst all the brokenness we were able to witness, I saw so much hope in these people. Surprisingly, for many, it is not because they are unwilling to accept the truth of the gospel, but it is because they include our one and only God within the many idols that they worship. What India needs are people to share the gospel, to teach and distinguish that there is only one God, and to provide financially to build up the church there.
Every day is, and should be, missions for us. As Christians, we are ALL missionaries and we are ALL called to make disciples and reach the unreached nations. Whether I’m in North India or back in the United States, my mindset to actively share the gospel and to be a light to the people around me should not fluctuate. I want to continue to be missional wherever I go, if it means being a sender, a goer, or a mobilizer. Currently, my heart really wants to go back to North India soon in the future whether it be for short-term, midterm, or career missions. I am praying consistently on this, waiting patiently for God’s calling to see if this is what God wants me to do! Thank you so much to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for taking the time to read my testimony, and feel free to ask me more about my trip!