Jeriel Ontoy, Sophomore Communication Major
I could not see. I stumbled along the steep mountain path guided by a team member wielding a cheap flashlight about five feet away.
Dim city lights and dark silhouettes of rice paddies, which rested at the base of several mountains, scattered the landscape for miles on end. Every ounce of my energy had quickly faded away as I desperately struggled to reach the peak of the mountain.
Suddenly, a blaring chant hauntingly groaned in every direction. Its call, a startling shock to me, was a typical beckoning for the Javanese people to arise from their pre-dawn breakfast and perform the first of five prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. At that moment, I felt the physical darkness of early morning, but I also sensed the spiritual darkness of hundreds of thousands of people who were metaphorically fumbling up a mountain of rituals and regulations trying to appease Allah. My heart was burdened for these lost souls.
Who would give these seekers answers to their questions? Who would give them peace?
This summer I was privileged to be a member of the Southeast Asia team (SEA Team), which was led by Dr. Oberlin. Our team ministered in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia for six weeks. Our team was involved in a variety of ministries, ranging from cleaning a small church in Indonesia to teaching ESL classes as a bridge for the Gospel in Thailand.
Some highlights of the trip were preaching and teaching pastors and church leaders at a pastor’s conference in the Kachin state of Myanmar, counseling at a missionary kids’ camp in Dolphin Bay, distributing Gospel literature in Bangkok, running a children’s program at two different Singaporean church camps in Malaysia; lecturing at an evangelism conference in Singapore, and expanding my knowledge of the relationship between Islam and Christianity in Indonesia.
Looking back at the lives our team impacted, I am overjoyed to see how God was actively working through the SEA Team to see Christians all around the world discipled. I believe that too often, we as believers can become so narrow-minded and comfortable in our “American Christianity” that we forget that God is working to draw all “nations, tribes, and tongues” unto Himself. Being able to witness personally God orchestrating events expanded my view of the sovereignty and grace of God.
There are so many stories I wish I could tell you about how God’s name was magnified as people were directed to Christ. One amazing event occurred with Burmese pastors and church leaders.
Many of these pastors had no Christian resources, no proper training in hermeneutics, and no biblically-based view of discipleship. To try and remedy this situation, our team held a conference with the goal of equipping these leaders with tools that they needed to be effective in their various ministries. While the men on our team were busy preaching, teaching, and creating sermons with the Burmese pastors, the ladies on our team discussed the importance of biblical counseling, dependence on God’s Word, and prayer-saturated ministry. At first, this task was somewhat depressing because our team received very little feedback, and it seemed that the group was not comprehending the material. We spent every night preparing notes for the sessions and pleading with God to do a great work among the church leaders.
On the last day, something changed. The leaders finally began to understand the information. I was thrilled to see these servants of God have their eyes opened; they were equipped with Biblical truth that they, in turn, can bring back to their congregations and instruct in ways of righteousness.
Back to the question above, who will give the seekers the truth? Who will provide them with the answers?
As I reached the peak of the mountain, the sun began to rise. Its warmth and light were a comfort to a weary hiker. This is the Gospel: allowing the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus to shine brightly into darkened hearts and minds so that those who tread in the drudgery of darkness may be converted and transferred into the kingdom of light.
You and I must share the truth of the Gospel! I understand that you might not have the opportunity to preach in Singapore, but you can testify to your unsaved relative. You may not ever counsel teenagers in Thailand, but you can share the Gospel with those whom God has placed in your life right here in Greenville.
God’s Gospel is powerful, but if we allow our sin or unwillingness to hide the Gospel, we hide the Gospel from those who need it the most. We must remember that God is arranging all of history to bring Himself glory by pointing to Christ, the Savior of mankind. He has called you and me to be His ambassadors.
Reach beyond yourself. Proclaim this Gospel. Turn the world upside down.
Reagan Smith, Sophomore Nursing Major
It’s 6:30 am and 47 medical professionals, students, and other volunteers pile into a bus on the streets of downtown Santiago, Chile. It’s the first day of the clinic and there is a buzz of excitement as we begin the 30 minute trip to Pudahuel just outside downtown. Its 40 degrees outside, and everyone has on extra layers, but despite the temperature outside, the line for the clinic begins to stretch down the street.
This summer several Bob Jones University students along with Dr. Marc Chetta of the science faculty and many others were able to assist Medical Missions Outreach on their trip to Santiago, Chile. Before we even got to Chile, however, God was already orchestrating his plans for this trip. There were storms over Atlanta so many of us were delayed getting to the airport, and a group of 13 of us missed our flight and settled in for the night. It was a long night on the floor of the international terminal in Atlanta.
Twenty-four hours later we left for Santiago. I was in a seat next to a man from Argentina. I was able to witness to him and left him with a Spanish tract that he could read. I’m thankful that we missed that flight or I would not have an opportunity to witness to this man. God’s timing is always best. Before the clinic started we did some sightseeing around the beautiful city. We were also able to share testimonies and worship in three different churches on Sunday. On Monday we set up the clinic and did some final canvassing to get the word out. The next 4 days were clinic days.
Thursday, I was shadowing Dr. Chetta and his interpreter Cata Undurraga (Sophomore nursing student, who is Chilean). I was able to see how he treated different conditions as well as how he listened to the stories of the people. A woman came to the clinic complaining of stomach pain, but she kept changing her story. Dr. Chetta said she had “verbal diarrhea” (a psychiatric disorder). Cata tried to share the gospel with her explaining that she believes the woman’s problem was more emotional than physical. The lady went on to tell us some very disturbing stories of things that her husband had done to her. At this point, Dr. Chetta mentioned that he believed she might actually be possessed by demons. We helped the lady find a counselor, but I continued to think about her all afternoon.
Later the same day she came back, this time with all of her medical records. Again Cata pleaded with her to put her trust in Christ and that He alone would fulfill her longing for peace in her soul. Dr. Chetta and I prayed while Cata spoke to her. We could see the woman listening intently and then stare into the distance while her face showed no emotion. She spoke with a counselor and although she did not accept Christ, the seed was planted in her heart. We are praying that the missionaries will follow-up with her and eventually she will get saved.
Although, we didn’t see this one soul come to Christ, the Lord blessed us with more than 350 new brothers and sisters in Christ. We were also able to provide 1,700 people with medical and vision care. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to serve with Medical Missions Outreach and I hope to go on another trip soon!
Isaac Stephens, Cross-Cultural Service Senior
If you’ve spent any significant time in Christian service, whether it be summer camps, mission trips, personal discipleship, or even an intensive week of VBS, you’ve most likely learned a simple truth: ministry is very hard.
Ministry is rooted in relationships, and relationships are often messy. Disagreements and disappointments with those we minister to and especially the struggles with our own weaknesses render a lot of challenges as we try to serve.
There was definitely no exception for me this summer. I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with a missionary in Colombia. I served at a couple summer camps during my two-month stay, spent time with students at a newly opened residential seminary, and got involved in weekly Bible study that would eventually become a new church plant. It was such a joy to see the light come on in individual souls as they began to understand God’s love for them. God worked in amazing ways and I felt blessed to have a part!
However, missionary work is not always glamorous.
While God’s power and goodness are never compromised, the reality of our fallen world sets in. Life can become mundane; long periods of time without visible fruit bring discouragement; our own flesh draws out our inadequacies.
Perhaps in your own ministries or relationships you’ve built with people, you’ve quickly experienced small slices of these, if not in full.
For me this summer, I was met with challenges. I barely spoke Spanish, I had to make cultural adjustments, and I battled personal sin struggles. Yet God in His unending goodness brought a particular passage to mind.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29:
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
In those times of weakness, in those times time when we feel foolish for our faith, that is actually exactly where God wants us to be.
God called you and me in our weaknesses. We have been chosen to serve Him not because of some wisdom or strength that we have in ourselves, but because it provides the perfect stage in which His glory and power may be displayed. Sometimes we wonder how and why God could use us, yet Scripture assures us that our own inadequacies are merely chances for God to show forth His wisdom and strength over the world’s.
So, take heart in this promise! Ministry is for the weak, for the foolish, for the despised. You may feel totally unqualified to share your faith or discouraged in discipling that individual, but know that it’s by God’s power, God’s wisdom, and God’s glory that His work moves forward. He has graced each one of us with the amazing privilege to serve.
Look not on your own strength, but prayerfully and joyfully embrace His enablement as you live to be an ambassador of His love wherever He has called you!
The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.