Well, this last month of school has really been crazy. Training has been great as always, but obviously I have not been able to update as regularly as I want to about my team’s progress. So without further ado, I am going to recap training from weeks 12 to 15. I will also be recapping the special moments my team and I have had.
I hope you all enjoy reading about it all!
Week 12 of training was all about health and safety. For each country that our ISP teams are going to, there are strict security measures that must be adhered to. Since I am going to Japan, the security measures are not too bad. In fact, Japan is one the safest countries for an American to travel to right now. That offers a little bit of comfort to my parents :). But for teams going to other parts in the 10/40 Window, security is a real issue.
Every single issue from water safety to sticking together in a group was covered in training that day. Packing was next on the list of things to talk about. After we discussed packing, we were excused to our usual team-time activities.
During team-time this week, we spent time going through our devotion in Eph. 5:22-33. Since these are the verses about wives being submissive to husbands and husbands being submissive to wives, it was a little bit difficult to relate to each of our lives, considering none of us is married yet! But, it was still a good night to spend with my team.
Throughout the next week, I began struggling with a few things in my personal life. Things got a little bit more difficult since my schedule changed in a few different ways, and I was feeling distant from God. I could not understand why, after spending the entire semester so close to Him and so sure of His presence, I suddenly felt so far away from Him. Things got progressively more frustrating for me until the next week.
During week 13 training, Nik Ripken, author and missionary, spoke in chapel. The story he told in chapel was amazing. He shared that he and his wife had always planned to be fieldworkers in Africa, and they went from one country to the next as each country slowly began to break down. Eventually they ended up settling in Somalia. Nik said he was in denial, he believed there was absolutely no way God could use them in a country that was so torn.
But he was reminded of God’s sovereignty and the crazy way He works sometimes when he met up with a friend of his who gave him a small note card with five names written on it. Before a civil war came and tore the country apart, Christian communities were together, but after they were torn apart and scattered across the desert. The people represented by the names written on this note card were some of those scattered. They had not been heard from in years. No one even knew if they were still alive. But Nik’s friend gave this card to him and asked that he would pray for them. Nik said that he did not understand why he should have to pray for people who are not even confirmed alive or dead. But he prayed.
One day he found himself in a market place, and he was confronted by a few young man. They asked him, “Are you the man we have been waiting for?”
The story went on, and these young men repeatedly asked Nik the same question. These men turned out to be the men Nik had been praying for, the names that were written on this note card. God had a specific plan for Nik to be in that country and be praying for those men. And those men were praying that God would send someone to them to reunite them and their communities. They were all praying for each other in some way, and prayer is the only reason they were all able to recognize each other when the appointed time came.
The story alone blew my mind. But something else that blew my mind even more was the questions he asked us all:
“Are you willing to go where He wants you to go? Are you willing to let others see you?”
Later that night, Nik spoke again during training, giving a little bit more background to the story he had told during chapel. The only thing I found myself thinking the entire time is that I want to go to Japan with a heart that is genuinely open to the people. Not just a heart that is focused on prayer or devotions or worship, but a heart that is truly open to the people I am going to come in contact with and build relationships with. I want to know that no matter where God leads me, all I have to do is be obedient. I want God to use me. And more than that, I want to be used. I want to be open to it. I want o be prepared for it.
But then Kristin White got up and explained that the story Nik told is the exact reason why our theme in ISP this year is STAND, drawn from Ephesians 6:10-20. She said God was leading the MOB team to establish a theme that would teach us all to stand on, stand up, and stand fast on the word of God so we may stand in the evil days. But she also wanted us to realize that ministry begins and ends with prayer.
The power of prayer is real, and can be trusted. No prayer is too big or too small for God, and He hears every single utterance that comes forth from our hearts.
We carried this assurance with us as my team embarked on a small scavenger hunt that led us to take the quiz about the 5 Love Languages. We each took our quiz, discovering what our love languages were. Then we all sat down for team time, and read from Eph. 6:1-9. There was so much in these verses and my team and I spent almost 30 minutes dissecting it and talking it over.
This last week of training was another good session. Early on in training, we all learned how to give our personal testimonies in two minutes. Last Monday was a review on how to do it quickly, efficiently and in a way that excludes using Christianese. It is always a challenge to not use words that you are so used to (like “sin,” “Son of God,” “forgiveness,” “sacrifice” and others) and we were all tested on it. But in addition to giving our own personal stories, we each had to give other stories (some we had to make up off the top of our heads!). It was a challenge to do this.
But the whole point was learning how to use the experiences we will have on our trips to mobilize our friends and family to answer the call to love the nations as God wants us to.
They mentioned that we will have new ways of looking at things that our friends and family will not understand because they did not have the same experience as us while in-country. We have to remember that we need to take things slow when we come home, and not let bitterness or resentment build in our hearts because they do not see things the same way we see them. It will be difficult for me to do this because I want other people to have hearts for the nations, and to realize that is the heart God has. He has a heart for the nations because He is a God of the nations. He has a heart for America, China, Japan, England, and every other country in the world. He wants us to have hearts for those nations, and the people who comprise those nations.
It is one of the only commandments that we have, that we would love others and serve others, and that means going to every single place we can to share the good news of Jesus Christ!
It is an awesome call, and I am honored to have had my eyes opened to it and I am answering it!
In team time, we also got to talk about what our love languages are, and how we can best serve each other while going through the fire in Japan. We each got to talk about our fears, and the things we believe will cause us some stress while in-country and how we can best serve each other during those challenging times.
It is hard to believe that our rigorous training has come to an end. Every single thing I have learned has equipped me to serve in Japan. But it has also equipped me to serve right here in America, at my church, within my circle of family and friends, and at my school. Faith in Jesus and what He did for me by dying on the cross, and faith in the Father for promising to send His Son and never going back on those promises, is something that I must not only live out in my daily life, but also something I desire to share with the world. ISP training has given me more confidence in Who I believe in and why I believe it. I pray and hope that everything I have learned will help me to convey those two things, and also help me bring people to Jesus.
I cannot wait to go to Japan!
I hope you all enjoyed this last update about training!
Thank you and God bless!