myMISSION Collegiate Blog

Big Potential from a Simple Invitation

If you’ve grown up in a family that regularly attended church, that’s amazing. It’s also not the norm for many children across America.

I live in the Bible Belt of the South, where it’s easy to assume that everyone goes to church and knows about Jesus. However, this is so not true!

I have been babysitting for a sweet family for about a year. The more I babysat, the more I realized that I didn’t see any biblical-based items around the house—no children’s books with Bible stories, no cross decorations, and no Noah’s ark toy sets.

However, one day in December, I noticed a candy cane with a piece of paper tied to it. The paper explained how the candy cane represented the shepherd’s staff from the Christmas story, and it also looked like the letter “J” for Jesus.

“Where did you get this?” I asked one of the children.

“From the after school Bible club,” he replied. “I go once a week.”

When There’s No Extra Present

Sometimes the best kind of selflessness is unplanned. We often define selflessness by scheduling time to teach a Bible study, volunteer, or help someone in need.

Don’t get me wrong—all of these things are important, and they are selfless! However, the true state of our heart is tested when God throws us into a situation where we have to act fast. Will we choose to satisfy ourselves, or will we humbly give of ourselves to put others first?

One of my favorite stories of selflessness comes from a high school youth trip several Christmases ago. My church had bought toys and wrapped presents for children at a daycare program in a poor, rural town in Alabama. As the program director called the children’s names to receive their gifts, the children were ecstatic.

However, we soon realized that not all of the children there got a present—only the children who were enrolled in the program for five days a week. Had we known this before, we would have wrapped extra presents for the other children, but it was too late.

Bigger Than Me

In 1953, Dr. Wana Ann Fort arrived in Zimbabwe, where she and her husband became the first doctors at the primitive Sanyati Baptist Hospital. In addition to serving as a doctor, Wana Ann was a cook, Sunday School teacher, hospital correspondent, language student, and mother of five sons.

Life on the missions field was difficult to say the least. The Forts not only faced physical and environmental challenges but also encountered a culture deeply rooted in witchcraft. The more the Forts understood the people’s tribal religion, the more they desired to show them the light of Christ.

Wana Ann tells incredible stories about how God changed the lives of the people in Sanyati in her memoir, A Thousand Times, Yes. I love this book and encourage my friends to read it, especially those who are interested in medical missions.

One day I loaned the book to my friend Annie, who is studying to be a physician’s assistant. A few months later, she called me and said, “Rachel, you’re not going to believe this!”

When It’s Easier to Give Up

I can think of many situations where I’ve wanted to give up. They vary from finishing a paper to working out at the gym, or even trying to mend a relationship.

When things become tougher than we originally expected, it can be tempting to quit. However, God often uses these moments to teach us an aspect of the fruit of His Spirit: patience.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us? Philippians 1:6 (NIV) says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I wrote this verse on a sticky note and put it on the front of my study Bible, where it stayed for nearly two years. Every time I opened that Bible, the verse reminded me that I was a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is my teacher, and He will never give up on me.

The Failed Lemonade Stand

I was the kind of kid who would do anything to make money. Whether it was washing the car or watching my little brother, I jumped at the chance to make an extra dollar.

In the summer after fifth grade, I decided that I wanted to set up a lemonade stand at our neighborhood pool. My parents said that was fine, but I would have to pay for the supplies.

After recruiting my brother as a co-investor, Mom took me to the grocery store where I learned that investing in a lemonade stand wasn’t cheap. After getting cups, lemonade mix, ice, and a cooler, I realized that I needed to sell a lot of lemonade to make a profit.

As the day went on, I grew more and more disappointed with my results. Even though I sold a few cups of lemonade, I was still in the hole. Worse yet, my business partner/brother had abandoned me to play in the pool. “Does he have to cover more of our debt if I ended up doing all the work?” I asked my mom.

Looking back, I can see that working that lemonade stand taught me a lot about earning money. While I felt like a failure in the moment, I now realize that the situation was a great lesson.

Not Just Another School Subject

One of my favorite classes in college was about different cultures and religions. We studied many ancient texts from authors like Aristotle, Buddha, St. Augustine, and Job.           

During this class, I befriended a student named Julie*. I could tell that Julie struggled with the material, and I offered to help her study. I didn’t know if Julie was a Christian, and I prayed that one of these study sessions would provide an opportunity to share the gospel.           

One day we were studying in the food court and discussing Christianity. This is the perfect time, I thought, and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to speak up.           

“You know, sometimes we talk about Jesus and Christianity like it’s just another school subject,” I said to Julie. My heart was pounding, and I tried to have a strong voice. “Actually, I believe that the Bible is true, and I believe in Jesus.”           

Julie looked at me, clearly intrigued. “Jesus isn’t just a character,” I continued, “He is real. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, and that is what gives me joy in life.”           

Taking Up Your Cross

If you are involved in a missions group, you’ve probably heard of Jesus’ command in Matthew 16:24, where he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NIV). The cross was an instrument of execution that gave criminals a long and excruciating death. When Jesus spoke these words, He was asking His disciples to give their lives for the gospel.

Thankfully we live in a country where we are free to proclaim God’s truth. However, the fact that we don’t face physical persecution does not excuse us from actively obeying Christ’s command.

In fact, Christians in America definitely relate to one element of Jesus’ experience in taking up His cross—ridicule. Matthew 27:27–30 describes when an entire company of Roman soldiers relentlessly mocked Jesus. They dressed Him up as a king, gave Him a twisted crown of thorns, spat on Him, and repeatedly beat Him on the head.

Working on Vacation

Last year I spent my spring break on the beaches of Naples, Florida, enjoying the sunny, 75 degree weather with my friends. While this vacation gave me a break from college, God showed me that I am never “on break” from the work of His Kingdom.

One morning I was jogging down the beach by myself, listening to my favorite music playlist. The beach was mostly empty, but I noticed two young women who were doing yoga. I had never taken a yoga class, and I had heard mixed opinions about whether or not it had a religious aspect.

As I jogged past the women, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. Yoga could be a great conversation started to bring up Jesus, I suddenly thought. But why would I talk to random people on the beach? What if they think I’m stuck-up? What if we never even get to the subject of Christianity?

I asked God to shut down these excuses as I turned around and walked back towards the women. They were rolling up their yoga mats when I approached them.

“Hi,” I said, “Are you doing yoga?”

How dumb! I immediately thought to myself. Of course they’re doing yoga. They’ll think I’m crazy!

What If the Sunday School Answer Is True?

Last August, I moved back to college early for a week of training for a leadership organization I was a part of. I had the opportunity to get to know students who I would work with for the upcoming school year, and I wanted to make a good first impression.

One of our meetings focused on motivation. We ended up breaking off into pairs to discuss our individual source of inspiration and purpose.

I immediately knew my answer: Christ is my source of motivation. However, did that sound like a cop-out? I was afraid that my partner would look at me like I just stepped out of Sunday School. It was my first chance to get to know this group, and I didn’t want to be labeled as the goody-goody church girl.

Despite these excuses running through my head, I knew in my heart that I needed to share the truth. God is my purpose, my life, and the reason that I live the way I do. He calls us to preach Christ and His gospel, even if people view us as weak or unintellectual.

Reaching Beyond Your Culture

When I was in first grade, a girl named Esther joined our class. My teacher explained that Esther’s family had just moved from Hungary, and Esther spoke very little English.

I loved Esther from day one. I thought she was fascinating, and I wanted to help her feel a part of our class. I discovered the perfect tool for breaking the ice: stuffed animals. Each day, I would bring one stuffed animal for Esther to play with in class. Even though she couldn’t communicate well with words, we both knew how to play with toys.

Later I decided that I wanted to get Esther a Hungarian Bible. My mom tried to help me find one, but we were unsuccessful. However, we did buy her a Bible in English. Esther’s mom told me that their family had one Bible, but Esther had never had one of her own. She was very excited.

Since befriending Esther, I have always had a passion for sharing the gospel with people from a different culture. The great news in college is that I’m surrounded by people from other cultures!

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