Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14)
For a long time, I did not know what it felt like to be loved. From one broken experience to the next, I felt I had hit rock bottom. However, just when one of His children thinks they have completely lost all hope, He steps in. His love showed up in such a fierce way in my life. He destroyed my fears, shame, and everything else that burdened me. Words cannot describe His amazing Grace. His love is so much better than everything else I was chasing. I was experiencing God’s grace, the Healer, who loves His children back together again and loves you and me through other people.
I remember one day I was sitting in Sunday school and one of my servants was telling us about the woman at the well. She asked us, “What did she do once she was filled with this love of Christ?” Joyfully, I answered, “mission!”. The woman by the well dropped the bucket, and ran to tell the others about this Christ who filled her. A while after that, I was getting coffee with Fr. Jacob and he mentioned the Nigeria mission trip, and I saw my opportunity to drop my bucket and run.
Fast forward to the spring of this year:
One of the biggest lessons my God has shown me is that He is my provider. He will do all, be all, and guide me to all I will ever need. After a long year, with some spiritual ups and downs, I had a hard time finding that peace, joy, and strength I was sure would never leave. I starting thinking that external changes would make me feel better, but none of these things had a lasting effect. The change had to be made within. I started humbling myself to God again. He started to show me what I needed, spiritually and practically. It was never my morning routine or workout sessions that gave me this happiness and joy. It was my Him, my encourager, who loved me first and through this love all the other things were added.
Nigeria was such a fruitful and abundant experience. I can honestly say that it wasn't the nature, mission, or atmosphere of the cities of Calabar and Cross River. It was His presence. It was the presence of almighty God among us that made the experience meaningful.
I’m an evangelist?
Praise Him for His mighty acts. Evangelism changed my life. Oh the joy. YES. Evangelism brought me so much joy. Let's tell others about the amazing love of God! Yes, Jesus continue to use me.
God showed me in many ways why I was his daughter. “I would not trade this life for anything” I thought to myself one evening as the wind blew while I was standing on the balcony of the house we stayed at in Nigeria. Imagine that, years ago, I would have never thought a joy like this was possible. This is who my God is. He takes brokenness and uses it for his glory.
A significant moment.
It was around 10 p.m. We all sat outside on benches to watch a movie of the life of Christ. This night was so significant to me because a girl who I think I had seen before was sitting in front of me. She held my hand. I started to pray for her. I started to pray what others had once prayed for me about. That God would lead her to his dream for her life, that she’d be filled with joy, strength, and a hope caused by Christ.
God’s work is not done, the journey has just begun.
My trip to Nigeria was my first-ever mission trip, and I'm happy and grateful for the whole experience. Like many who go on their first mission trip, I had no idea what to expect, which had some advantages given that Fr. Jacob kept telling us to have no expectations. I didn’t even know if we would be sleeping in a house that was built in a week out of logs and mud--which we didn’t!
Coming in without expectations allowed me to appreciate each unique experience for the first time. Although, the first few days took some getting used to, I slowly became more and more comfortable with the ambiguity. One thing that stood out to me was how happy many of the villagers, especially the children, were, even though they had very little reason to be when measured with our standards. It was evident that the natives of Calabar view life different and value things differently than we do. After each day of missionary work, we would return to the compound around 5:00pm and all the kids at the church doors would come and greet and hug us. For reasons that still don’t completely make sense to me, they were just so happy to see us. Witnessing happiness that you cannot explain really is a wonderful experience.
Something that I really liked about the trip was that it forced me out my comfort zone. Going around to locals and talking to them about the church and bible isn’t something I'm accustomed to, or talking to large groups for that matter. The mission trip challenged me to do something new, and I'm happy I got to experience it because I wouldn’t have done it on my own.
Although I don’t have any big messages or takeaways to share, there are many small things that stood out to me that can form at least one overall message. I will leave you with one: You don’t need a major reason to be happy, or even a small one at that; just knowing that God is with you is enough. Taking note of the smallest miracles in your life can remind you of that.
The first thing I learned was how to appreciate the very little things that we usually take as for granted. By just looking at other people’s lives, how hard it is, how poor they are, and still being thankful, able to smile, and very generous, made me realize how spoiled, ungrateful and “poor” I am.
Being disconnected from family, friends, work, social media and all kinds of distractions, in combination with the very simple life we got to live there, and facing different hardships everyday made it easier to see Christ working even in the very small things. Many times we felt the devil’s fight against us.
Through prayer we experienced one of two things: Either God would work so quickly in a way that we could hardly describe or nothing would happen and we would get frustrated until we realized that God was using the delay and the situation to finish some other work that was beyond our realization or planning.
The BIG Witness:
I think the most impactful experiences i've ever had was watching the story of the Lost Sheep “live”. On our last day in Consico, a village that we stayed in for a week and a half, we were scheduled for a school visit. We got ready with all the gifts and materials for the lessons and were heading there to find out that the school went on strike and there were no kids to be served. We ended up having nothing to do in Consico, so we felt this was God's voice telling us to go to Calabar, which we were planning on going to in a few days.
A few hours after we reached Calabar, we went out at night looking for people to preach His word to, and found HER and some other girls. We invited about five of them to church and SHE was the most hesitant to come with us. After many trials, and being among the group of the other girls, SHE finally came. God sent us to Calabar early, after what seemed like a failure in Consico, just for HER. The whole night was about HER. I believe all the talks and prayers were personally customized for HER. He touched HER heart and gave HER security in His house among HER new family. All that was just for HER; leaving everything and everybody else to find HER and to bring back His Lost Sheep.
*A more detailed description about this incredible encounter will be published soon!*
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
Being a Christian is simply being Christ-like. Forgetting about ourselves, serving and valuing others, delivering His love, hope and comfort to people. Submitting to His will so that He delivers His word through us to who needs it whenever they are ready to hear it.
“That’s why I praise Him in the morning; that’s why I praise Him in the noontime; that’s why I praise Him in the evening; that’s why I praise Him all the time.”
As my second trip to Nigeria, I came in with expectations—Although I knew that I shouldn’t, I couldn’t help myself. I reflected on how transformational my first Nigeria trip was (in 2014), and how I kept repeating that I left my heart behind, and needed to go back. But as always, God had a different plan…
From the time we arrived in Nigeria, we saw that things were different. The evil one had a stronghold that was ready for battle, but what he didn’t know is that those with us were more than those against us. Nonetheless, it was a furious battle. The evil one attacked us with roadblocks, illnesses, and difficulties.
We armed ourselves with morning quiet times (glorious pep talks), continuous prayers and praises, delving into our bible studies, and fiery prayer meetings. We were armed with His presence, molded by His hands, and led by His Spirit. But greatest of all, He allowed us to share in the glory of His sufferings, so that we could be glorified with His resurrection, and be filled by His Holy Spirit. Each day was a battle, full of His victory and miracles.
Having too many miracles to share, I want to focus on only one that showed how graceful He is to us. How His presence is with us, how powerful prayers are, able to make miracles.
As always, we tried to prepare our services for the day, asking Him to open doors for us. But this day was a bit different, because we were leaving the villages and heading to the city to serve at the University of Calabar. There was a bit of hesitation in the air, illness already has one of us in bed all day, a couple of us were not feel very well, we were unsure of how transportation would work, and most importantly, we didn’t have any of the required documents to get into the university.
We had our quiet time, prayers, picked out our prayer warriors for the day, packed different flyers to handout, and then departed to the University of Calabar. Upon out arrival, we were stopped by security officers who explained that we need an approved letter to enter. While they explained the process to get this letter, we all prayed for God to work and open doors for us. After much discussion, they reject us from entering, and were left at the gate to figure out where to go next and how to get the letter—despair was fast approaching.
While looking around and seeing how many people were going in and coming out of this gate, I reach into my pocket and found a few of the flyers. This was the moment of truth for me. Either hand those flyers out, or stand there until something else happens. I started thinking about how judged I would be if I stood outside a university back home and passed out Jesus flyers. I took a deep breath and kept silently praying “God, please work through Your Spirit.”
Cast the Net on the Right Side (John 21:6)
I grabbed a handful of flyers and started passing them out to people walking in and out telling them “Jesus loves you.” I made it halfway through my stack of flyers without anyone making eye contact with me. A second missionary joined me and we worked together. Disappointment was surely around the corner—this was a bad idea.
My prayer “God please work through Your Spirit” was now being said stronger than ever. Then finally, He smiled down on us through a young man who looked at me and asked “What are you doing here?” The small, budding discussion with him gathered a few people around us. Then somehow, within seconds our entire group was flooded by hundreds of people asking questions and seeking the Truth.
I had no idea where all these people came from. We couldn’t keep up with the constant flow of people. I took a few seconds to look around and couldn’t help but picture Peter when he went fishing all night, catching nothing, then Jesus telling Him to cast his net on the right side, and catching so many fish that they needed help to gather the fish because the boat began to sink.
Then I recalled… we were discussing that story the night before. I cracked a smile, turned around, and handed out a flyer. “Good morning, sir! Jesus loves you!”
For those who have never served with us on a mission trip, it can be hard to understand what the experience of serving on a mission trip is like. It is a unique experience where God truly humbles us to see that mission work isn't about "converting nonbelievers," but to share Christ's love with everyone around us, and as a result, being personally transformed by His love.
Although nothing can quite replace the experience of personally serving on a mission trip, we want to give you a taste of the experience, and share the testimonies and stories of our missionaries who recently returned from their mission trip to Nigeria.
For the next 7 weeks, we'll be sharing a series called "Meet the Missionary" to introduce you to our Nigeria missionaries each Monday, and share their first-hand experiences while serving in Nigeria. Through their stories, you'll get a taste of how they experienced Christ through different situations, challenges, and people.