Overseas missions changes students' views
by Charissa Veal
Cleveland, Ga. (TMCNews) -- Days after the 2013 spring semester concluded, six Truett-McConnell College students set out for Malaysia to share their faith with Sikhs and learn their culture. Though the students both planted Gospel seeds and made contacts for others ministries in the region, through learning about the Sikhs the students found their own faith
"I went on this trip to Malaysia thinking I would serve God by sharing the Gospel and hopefully bless His soul and make Him proud," said MacKenzie Stover. "But I have come out thinking that it's hard to see what I did for God through what He did for me."
"Having felt my call to foreign missions at the age of 16, and without any missions experience, I worried that this trip would scare me away from that commitment," she said. "I thought the trip could either make me or break me."
As it turns out, Stover was right. God used her first trip out of the country to solidify her call to missions and show her just how much the world needs Jesus. "This trip was more than I could ever dream. I have grown a deep love for those who are mistakenly following false gods and who have no hope because of it," Stover said. "I realize how blessed we are as Christians to possess such a real and true hope. I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am that Christ died for me and thus doing, guaranteed me an eternity in His presence."
As the team learned about the Sikhs' beliefs, they also discovered that the Sikhs believe in relative truth as opposed to absolute truth. Sikhs spend their lives searching for truth, but still they believe that all religions lead to God. The team found this hard to understand, but the realization made a much needed, lasting impression.
"The need for the Gospel spans the globe, not just our country," said Jesse Mitchum. "Everywhere in the world, people are alive physically but spiritually dead. The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to resurrect a soul and to turn a heart back toward God. So often as believers, we selfishly withhold this life-saving truth. Must we constantly be reminded that we will give an account for everything we did and didn't do one day?"
Through this and other experiences in Malaysia, Mitchum determined that he needed to be bolder in America. "Knowing that my number-one objective in Malaysia was to tell others about Jesus has caused me to be bolder in my evangelism and witnessing -- something I often lack here at home."
Chase Thomas found his views of missions challenged as well. "During this trip, God expanded my understanding of life on the mission field," he said. "It is one thing to read and talk about the different parts and stages of missions, but it is another to actually experience it and wrestle with the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly parts of ministry."
After having a good conversation with a storeowner, who claimed to be a Christian, Thomas was surprised when the man both gave and recommended to Thomas a book about meditation, and promised that, through it, Thomas would find true peace.
Aside from deepening Thomas's desire to reach out to the lost, God used this particular situation to open Thomas's eyes to "the ugliness of syncretism," he said. "There were so many who professed to be Christians but also followed Buddhist and Hindu worship. The value of correct doctrine and biblical methodology for ministry are some major points God taught me on this trip."
In light of the team's purpose to take the Gospel to another country, they certainly succeeded, though perhaps not quite as well as they had hoped. They did, however, learn some important lessons for future ministries.
Because of her service to God that resulted in even greater change in herself, Stover was "overwhelmed that God calls us to serve Him in various ways, yet that we always come out ahead when we do."
God showed Thomas ministry in a new light: "Overall, God is moving mountains of my own American thought and my own pride, and is bringing me to a place of humility before Him."
For Mitchum, his whole outlook on witnessing changed. Inspired and convicted by his boldness in a foreign country, he made this plea, speaking not only to his fellow Christians, but also to himself: "Preach Jesus as Lord today. Tomorrow could be too late." so greatly deepened that the most visible impact of the trip was the change within themselves rather than the people they encountered.
Charissa Veal is a student at Truett-McConnell College.