Sophomore // Pepperdine
I always wanted to go on KCM STSM after seeing my brother go five years ago. However, starting my freshman year at Pepperdine I had new ambitions: missions not being one of them. As an eager business student, my goal from the start of the school year was to get an internship for the summer and solely focus on improving my resume. This mindset changed after attending Wintercon. The last night of Wintercon, Pastor Steve Bang gave a sermon on Mary and Martha and how Martha was in a hurry in life and Mary was at the feet of Jesus. I realized I was Martha. I was in a hurry in life and my ambitions were my priority. After that night, I decided to go on STSM.
My first week of missions in Nicaragua was a rough one. My first day, I dealt with countless bug bites and even had skin problems due to the humidity. Eventually as time went by I was starting to get used to it. The second week in Nicaragua, our team got to travel to two of our missionary contact’s churches. The first church plant we went to was in La Amancia and the second one was in Matagalpa. In La Amancia, our team did VBS and English camp and fell in love with the children there because of their innocence and kindness. In Matagalpa, we also did VBS and English camp but it was hard for many of us to truly connect with the children because 9 out of the 14 of us became sick. During our first day of English camp, as I was going over how to say soccer in English, my body started aching. My body started aching even more as the day went on. The next day, my body was feeling even worse and I had a fever, indigestion, diarrhea, body aches, and headaches. In addition, some of my other teammates were feeling sick too. Eventually, the pastors at Matagalpa brought medics to give us IV’s. After I got a shot for the IV, I wasn’t feeling good and felt like I was going to faint. After telling my leader that I was going to faint, I laid down on a mat and no longer felt like fainting. As I was lying down on the mat I thought of what fainting looks like. It’s pitch black when you faint and randomly I thought of hell. Right away I thought of my friends who weren’t saved. I realized that they need the Gospel. I was reminded that this world needs the Gospel.
I felt joy in the fact that without this moment, I wouldn’t have an urgency for the Gospel. I know that this world needs the Gospel, but I don’t think I would really know it with my heart how desperate this world needs God. While I was lying down on the mat, I heard worship songs playing and I began worshipping. The song Though You Slay Me, by Shane and Shane was playing and that was when I truly had a genuine encounter with God. Through this moment, I learned two things. First, I learned about the urgency of the Gospel. Second, I learned to have joy in my suffering.
Romans 1:16 states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” During a morning devo, we read Romans, and I was reminded that when I share the Gospel to a friend, it is not me that gives salvation, but it is God who gives salvation. All we can do as Christians is to do our part in sharing the Gospel and show God’s love wherever we go. After that morning devo, I realized that I wouldn’t care as much about the urgency of the Gospel if it wasn’t for the IV experience in Matagalpa.
Joy in suffering. To be honest, it doesn’t sound right. However, as a follower of Christ, I was reminded to have joy in suffering and that suffering will build perseverance. I suffer to further lean on God and not myself. Throughout this month in Nicaragua, I was reminded about the beauty of suffering and how we suffer because Jesus suffered.
I came into STSM expecting to have a big and crazy “God moment.” I didn’t get that expectation. However, I learned that it’s not all about that and it’s solely about Him and Him alone and learning more about myself and God during this trip further gave me a reason to give all the glory to Him. God didn’t need me on this mission trip. Yet, He chose me to go and serve Him and His people. As I start another school year, not at Pepperdine, but studying abroad in Shanghai, I know that God will help me reach those who need to hear the Gospel. It will definitely be challenging. But, “it is the power of God for salvation” and not my power for salvation.