As the weather warms up and the days get longer I can’t help but think, ‘tis the season…for summer mission trips!
An almost quintessential part of being a Christian youth or young adult, summer missions are often the time and place God uses to burst people’s bubbles, open their eyes and hearts, and prepare them for a lifelong journey of mission.
Edmond went on his first mission trip to Nelson, about a year after committing his life to Christ. Having seen the need for the gospel on campus, he saw the project as an opportunity to grow in confidence to share the gospel and articulate it well.
‘Through my time at Nelson I learned how to flow from different points of conversation to pointing people to the significance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.’
God also used Edmond’s time in Nelson to help him see the lost through God’s eyes.
‘I can’t say I had a truly burdened heart for the lost when I initially decided to go to Nelson. God changed this when I reluctantly approached a heavily tattooed man who basically said he had “done the whole church thing before” and was “ok with going to hell”. This was shocking to me and opened my eyes to see how desperately people needed to hear the gospel. It made me consider the eternity of those around me; my family and my friends.’
Esha decided to go on her first mission trip after an inspiring presentation at the annual Student Life conference. Four weeks in Thailand seemed like an exciting way to spend summer, to learn and grow in her personal walk with God, and be part of growing God’s kingdom. She was eager to see what God would teach her through a one month project overseas.
But before Esha was even in Thailand, God challenged her need for control by inviting her to trust Him with provision for the trip.
‘It was such a huge growth point not being able to control where the money would come from. I just had to trust God.’
During her time in Thailand Esha was also challenged by the Christians she met along the way, and their “all or nothing” mentality towards the Christian life.
‘In Thailand, the struggle to be a Christian is real. Relationships are lost, reputations are slandered, and sacrifices have to be made. But the Christians in Thailand were some of the most joyful people I had ever met. It really put into perspective for me how much we take Jesus for granted in the West.’
Needless to say, the Thailand project was a life changing trip for Esha. In fact it’s one of her main motivations for encouraging others to go on summer missions.
‘If I had not gone to Thailand, my time in Student Life and university could have looked very different. And this is the same reason why I support students to go. I want them to have the same life changing experience I was able to have. To experience more of who God is, but also know God’s people around the world. I want others to step out of their bubble and see how other Christ followers are living, as well as see that the lost are everywhere!’
Edmond and Esha are currently working for Student Life as full-time staff and are leading the Nelson Beach Project this summer. Edmond is looking forward to seeing students experience what he did; having their eyes opened to the need for the gospel and leaving equipped to impact their own circles of influence when they return home, and not just at university.
‘It could be those close to them, their work colleagues, or even people they encounter at a cafe. Also, there’s a big concert happening called Baydreams. A lot of people will be flocking to Nelson for electronic dance music. I’m excited to meet strangers intending to party in Nelson, leaving with the best news ever!’
Summer mission trips are amazing opportunities to spend intentional time labouring for the gospel and as Edmond shares, it’s a kind of labouring that’s always with reward.
‘I think summer mission trips are great for new Christians and seasoned Christians. As you go out there and share the gospel, you get to hear the gospel yourself again and again. It’s never a waste to share the gospel! And if people to come to Christ after hearing the gospel – you get to celebrate that amazing work of God with fellow believers.’
What might it look like for you to be on mission this summer? What bubbles might God burst to help you see what you’ve never seen before? The need for the gospel is as prevalent in our everyday lives as they are in places like Thailand and music festivals in Nelson. Maybe you can join your church’s outreach programme, or help start one if there isn’t one already. Perhaps there are people in your family or workplace who you can pray and care for and invite to church or offer to read the bible together. As Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-8,
‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
It’s never a waste to share the gospel, and there are plenty of people who need to hear it. Who will you share the gospel with this summer?
Sometimes sharing the gospel can be a little tricky to know where to start. Check out the Jesus Film app and GodTools app for some helpful resources!
If you’d like to check out the full list of Student Life projects coming up this summer you can click here . If you are interested in other International Mission Projects, then please check out our Cru ministry International Mission Trips here.