Freshman // UCLA
To be completely honest, I initially entered this STSM program with the mindset that this would be the one month of my life that I would completely dedicate and surrender to God, just so I could say that I had done my part to serve God’s kingdom. Although my motivation for going on this trip was completely wrong, God showed me that he can and will use anyone and everyone for his glory. I was truly humbled through this experience as God taught me that serving him is not a burden or a chore, but a joy and privilege.
Our team had the unique privilege of traveling to two countries this summer. We spent the first two weeks of July in East Asia and the last two weeks in Japan. In East Asia, our team participated in an English Camp and VBS. We also had the great privilege of meeting four different missionary families. We got to hear their testimonies and share a part of their life in East Asia. In Japan, we had the joy of working with Pastor Kim and Pastor Takashi at Bread of Life, a small church plant in Tokyo. Our ministry consisted primarily of campus evangelism, english conversation times, and church encouragement.
At our english camp in East Asia, me and a couple of my teammates were assigned to the storytime rotation with the task of sharing the gospel message through lessons on American holidays. I felt very pressured by our task, not only because of the language barrier, but also because our inability to explicitly share the gospel. I was uncertain of how well we would be able to convey the amazing grace of the gospel without saying anything to endanger or expose the primary missionary contact we were working with. Throughout the four days of the camp, I found myself constantly overthinking and even holding back while we were teaching the kids. I was so frustrated because I knew that my explanations were flawed and were not conveying the entirety of God’s grace. But, on the fourth and final day, as we reviewed with our homeroom class, they began to ask questions like “How can Jesus be both God and God’s son?” and “Why did Jesus have to die?” How were these kids able to understand the gospel so well that they were even able to think beyond the very basic lessons we taught them? God truly humbled me in this moment and reminded me that I was not the one working in the hearts of these kids, but that he was. In my anxiety and stress, I turned to my own abilities for comfort rather than God. But, God showed me that even when I fail to remain faithful to him, he is always faithful!
Another huge blessing to me during this past month was meeting and hearing the testimonies of many missionary families in both East Asia and Japan. I was so encouraged by their genuine love for God and their ability to always rejoice in the gospel, even in the face of their struggles. In East Asia, the missionary families shared about their security issues and even about their escape plans, while in Japan, the pastors shared about how slow moving their ministry work could be. Despite the overwhelming challenges and seemingly hopeless circumstances they faced, every single one of them was joyful and hopeful because they were completely dependent on and obedient to God. I was humbled as I considered whether I could be as joyful and obedient as them if I were to be placed in a similar situation. I have been blessed to be born into a Christian family in America with the freedom to openly praise God and share the gospel, but rather than taking advantage of these blessings, I have taken them for granted. God truly humbled me through each testimony as I reflected on whether I considered the gospel so precious and God so worthy that I would joyfully endure every struggle and willingly surrender every worry to spread the gospel and further God’s kingdom.
The greatest lesson that God has taught me from this trip is that I am an undeserving sinner who has been blessed with the gift of the gospel from God and that my relationship with God and the gracious salvation he offers me is something that I should never take for granted. Now that I’m back, I want to live a life of complete obedience because God is worthy of all of my efforts, and I have truly seen that he can work through every situation, even in my weakness and unfaithfulness.