Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

Worldwide Family July 21, 2012

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 5:00 pm
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So, I know that Christians all around the world are brothers and sisters. We are one body, the bible is really clear on that. But often, I forget, because nameless faces are hard to remember in day to day life. One of the real privileges of doing this job is that each summer I to go and work with, and get to know a few of these siblings. Whilst there are many things that I really love about my job, this really is one of the highlights. At the start of July two other staff workers and I took a team of students from Uni’s around our region to run an English and Bible camp with a small IFES movement.

It’s a camp that’s always oversubscribed, so the local staff interview and decide who can come, which means those that are accepted are really excited to be there. Mainly because they get to speak English with native English speakers (although to be fair many of them understand the workings of English a lot better than we do!). But they also get the chance to look at the Bible with us each day, which means that 20 non Christians looked at John’s gospel over the week we were there. The time when people are students really is unique in terms of openness to think about new ideas and truly consider the claims of Jesus. It was so exciting to see how God worked through us – despite many cultural and language barriers to help them see who Jesus really is. The IFES movement we worked with is small, just three full time staff, and so being able to serve them is a real joy. I also really valued the fact that we got to work with brothers and sisters who we don’t very well and yet clearly had a bond with them as we really are family.

For me, one of the most significant conversations was with a Christian student who was telling me how she had become a Christian through her grandfather’s witness. Her parents don’t know Jesus and she told me that with real pain that I can empathise with. It reminded me that despite culture, food, expectations, language and everything else, that the gospel is the same all over the world, and it really is what all people need to hear.

We had many conversations with non Christians about Jesus and the local Christians will have the chance to follow them up over the next few months, but the reminder that we are a worldwide family who love, support and serve one another is one of my main lasting memories this year.

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God’s Good Gifts – 10th June June 10, 2012

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 2:36 pm
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Photo: I do love summer teams but love late night form filling for visas less! Thursday evening found me sat on my living room floor surrounded by forms, passports, photos and a million other things. Emily and I were finalising the application forms for our summer team’s visas. It didn’t take long (approx 3 seconds) for Emily’s head to drop onto the coffee table as we realised the task we had before us. And so we prayed. We prayed specifically that there would be no issues in submitting our forms, that we have wisdom as to what to write for certain sections, and above all we prayed for joy in doing it.

It was a long evening, with many repetitive tasks (there’s only so many times you can write in insurance details without going cross eyed) And yet there was real and genuine joy … even when we discovered that one application was missing a photo (mine!). It resulted in a late night trip to Tesco’s photo booth- but alas it’s switched off overnight! Luckily, even though Hatfield only has a population of around 18,000, we have two 24hour supermarkets, so the ASDA photo booth saved the day (well night)!

Friday morning saw us on an early train bound for London. We prayed again at the tube station – this time for there to be no issue with the invitation letters and that we’d have submitted the forms by 10.30am. Roll on to 10.31am – Emily’s happy dance (well out of the way of the embassy’s CCTV!) in celebration of having had submitted all of the forms with no bureaucratic issues. Amazing.

This is this week’s God’s Good Gifts – each and every thing we asked for was granted to us. And more besides. We were dealt with by the most lovely helpful embassy worker ever (in stark contrast to last year!), we got to spend sometime together rejoicing in what God had done, we had members of this summers team, and last summers team praying for us whilst we were in the office, desperate to know what had happened. Those twelve hours this week had their stresses, but they were the clearest demonstration of the gospel and unity. I’ve literally been left astounded by God’s great kindness!

We’re praying for the visas all to be granted this week – if you pray we’d love you to pray for us! If you want to find out more about our trip then leave your email in the comments and I’ll send you the updates!

 

Moldova Week Two Prayer Requests July 6, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 9:30 am
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Here’s week twos prayer requests. Thanks for praying guys!

7th July
Today is the first full day at camp and so our first bible study. Here is a brief look at how most days on camp will look:

Morning: UK team meeting, followed by breakfast. After a short introduction to the theme of the Bible study, we’ll split into Bible study groups. These are one hour long and will have about 10 people in them. After a short tea break, there will be English conversation classes for 90 minutes before lunch.
Afternoon: Begins with sport activities, free time or an excursion. Often there are team activities in later afternoon, or preparation time for English night!
Evening: After dinner, there are various forms of entertainment – including team presentations, English Night, Moldovan Night, a film, the banquet … etc.! Then off to bed after a busy day!
Please pray that we would be able to get to know our roommates (there is normally two English team in a room of 4-6 Moldovans). Please pray for the first study, that the English team wouldn’t be nervous and would be trusting in the power of the gospel and that the gospel would attract the non Christian Moldovans. Please also pray especially for the two male leaders, Peter and Matt today.
8th July
Today is the second bible study, so all those students who didn’t lead one yesterday will be doing so today. Please pray that there is no comparison going on within the team that could cause feelings of inadequacy. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will be working in the hearts of the non Christian on camp to be the receptive to the gospel. Please pray especially today for Sarah, the female leader and Rebekah (Ebek).
9th July
Camp continues! By now it will be becoming the norm for us all! Please pray the Bible studies taking place that the language difference would not be a barrier to the gospel. Also, pray for Andrew W and Emma, two British team students.
10th July
Please pray for the Bible study groups taking place, that they would bond with one another and feel able to be themselves around each other. Pray especially for Toby and Nicole, two British team students. Please also pray for the CSC staff team which is depleted this year due to staff leaving and no suitable having yet been found – Albina, Rodica, Slavic and Tania.
11th July
Please pray for the Bible studies, that the Christian Moldova students would grow and learn more about Christ throughout camp. Please pray for the whole team, that even in our tiredness we would love one another. Pray for Hannah H and Jon, two British team members especially today.
12th July
Pray for the ongoing Bible studies, that the Moldovan students who are not Christians would understand more about Jesus and why he came. Please pray especially for Andy J, UCCF Relay Worker and Sally a British team member today.
13th July
Pray for the bible studies taking place, that the English students leading the studies would grow in knowledge and understanding of Christ as they seek to tell the Moldovans about Jesus. Today please pray especially for Shaun and Hannah R and Lisa, three British team members.

 

Moldova Prayer Requests! June 28, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 8:43 pm
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So, I’m off to Moldova tomorrow with the UCCF summer team. I’m really excited to be going back and to see friends that were made last year. There’s some daily prayer points below for the first week (i’ve set it so that they come up weekly as a reminder!) Your prayers will be very much appreciated and I’ll try and update my blog if I get chance 🙂

29th June
The team is meeting in Luton tonight at 6pm where we’ll be sleeping on a church floor before our early flight tomorrow. Please pray for the team to get to know each other a bit better, rest and a good night’s sleep.
30th June
Our flight is at 8am from Luton this morning, and arrives in Bucharest at 1315 (local time) and then catching the overnight train into Moldova at 8pm this evening. Please pray for safety for the whole team (and luggage!) whilst travelling and for ease of buying train tickets as the language barrier can cause problems. Also, all the team will be getting tired so please pray for continued good team relations.
1st July
We should arrive in Chisinau at 8am after a very disturbed night’s sleep of passport checks and immigration etc! There’s time for some rest and relaxation, but orientation starts fully today. So, please pray for energy and concentration for all as we look in detail at “What is the gospel”. Please also pray for the team to quickly embrace and adapt to Moldovan culture.
2nd July
Today we are looking an entire overview of the Bible as part of our preparations for camp. We’re also having a seminar on prayer and our first set of Romanian lessons! Today will be our first proper chance to see Chisinau as well. Please pray equipping of the English team with the topics being looked at today and that the Romanian lessons will be practically helpful
3rd July
We start our preparations on the Bible studies we’re doing on camp today. We’ll also be thinking about how to practically teach English as a second language. Please pray that students will get to grips with the studies as Peter, Matt and Sarah lead them through them and the students will feel more equipped to be able to teach English.
4th July
as well as bible studies for camp, we’ll also be looking at How to Lead an Evangelistic Bible Study which focuses on God’s sovereignty in Evangelism. We’ll be putting out Romanian into practice by going on a scavenger hunt to buy the things that we need to get for camp! Please pray continued group bonding especially with the CSC staff we will be going on the scavenger hunt with.
5th July
Peter is leading a study on “the gospel and wholeness” today. We’ll also be prepping studies 5 and 6 for camp and thinking about how to get alongside non Christians on camp. Please pray that we learn and are equipped to sensitively get to know and get alongside Moldovan Students and point them towards Christ.
6th July
Today we head to camp! We’ll be preparing bible studies 7 and 8 in the morning, but then we set off. Please pray that we would all be confident in the gospel alone, as we set off to camp (and what may feel for some the scary unknown!)

Thanks 🙂 another update next week!

 

Summer Mission Team Weekend June 9, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Conferences — Sarah @ 3:30 pm
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I had the great pleasure this weekend of meeting the Moldova 2009 team at the national training weekend for all those going on a UCCF summer mission trip this year.

The one thing that struck mainly was how diverse the team is. I honestly can not think of one thing that would unite us all apart from the gospel and I am really excited about how God is going to use that. Got to thinking that this must be a really weird thing for non believers to see – 16 British University students, voluntarily giving up three weeks of their summer break, raising £700 to pay for costs, to go and visit a country which the majority of Molodvans can’t wait to get out of. We are choosing to go there!

Also was thinking how excited I was to see how God has changed our hearts and desires. This weekend there was around 100 people who are going on summer teams this summer with UCCF. None of them are going to an “easy” context, in fact the speaker for the weekend, Keith Walker from SIM (Serving in Mission) made that point a couple of times, that there aren’t any ‘easy’ places left! And yet all 100 of us have had our hearts changed by God to go to these countries with a desire to share the amazing truth of the gospel with the students we’ll meet out there and to work along side our brothers and sisters who are working out there already.

If you had told me when I was a fresher at Uni that I would have gone on one mission trip already, and be involved in leading another to the same country in 5 years time and that I would be happy and excited about it I really would have laughed!

It is really great to see how God has changed my heart over the last five years. How he is changing the hearts of the students that are going on the trip and making us all more sacrifical. What an encouragement to see God working in this way!

The teaching over the weekend was great as well. To be reminded of the uniquness of Jesus was something I think I desperatly needed to hear. And it is so true! My fire for wanting to go to Moldova is now based so much mroe firmly on God’s Word and as Matt Redman said “Worship is the fuel for Missions flame”. It’s because of what God has done, because of who He is that we want to worship Him, and spread glory – hence mission!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” Ephesians 1:3

Keith looked at Revelation 7 on Sunday morning and pointed out that this vision is something that God showed John as an encouragement that God will keep promises. The “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9) aren’t just faceless people – they are all those who have been saved, me, my church family, the other Christians I know – how exciting is that!

One of my main prayers for our mission trip is that those we encouter this summer, who haven’t accepted the truth of the gospel for themselves, will and will become one of those great multitude.

Praise to God who has the power to change us from living in darkness to the light!

 

What did I do last summer? March 21, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 12:27 am
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As one of my first ever blogs, I blogged about Moldova and the trip I had there last summer. Some of you will know that I am going back this summer (woop woop!) so instead of doing a boring plain talk to explain to church what I am doing and why I thought I’d do a video of last year to give them a flavour so here it is!

It’s my first ever video so bear that in mind!!

 

Moldova July 31, 2008

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 3:01 pm
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I’ve spent the first three weeks of July this year in Moldova with the UCCF North West Summer Mission Trip.
It’s a trip I’ve heard a lot about for the last couple of years and really have wanted to go on but money, time and fear are big restrictors! This year though, I had the time and the other two didn’t seem like such big an issue so I signed up and went. Because I’d heard so much about Moldova and knew practically what happened pretty much, I hadn’t really thought about the trip that much in advance which meant that pretty much everything shocked me and I most definitely don’t think that I expected to learn so much about myself out there.

The aim of our trip was to spend ten days on an evangelistic camp and it wasn’t until I got to the camp that I realised just what an awesome opportunity that really was. Here we had a camp where two thirds of them were not Christians and they had agreed to study the Bible with us for an hour every morning! I just can’t imagine anything like that happening in the UK which showed me just how different their culture really is. But then I got to wondering whether or not if I asked people would they want to study God’s word with me – challenge number one!
Camp was a pretty humbling time for me over all. Being ill showed me that God is in control and although it was so frustrating not being able to go to the last Bible study, it really reminded me of who God was and who I was. And also, I realised how materialistic our culture is and how much I buy into that. When we were packing to leave camp, one of the girls in our room commented on my hiking bag that I was using, saying that it would have held all of her clothes. Quite humbling when I remembered that I’d been so proud of packing ‘lightly’ and that there was a pile of clothes on my bed at home that I’d been debating whether or not to taken as well as a wardrobe full of other clothes.
My bible study group was such a highlight. All bar one, were Christian but very new Christians so being able to work through things like the cost of being a Chrisitian and what it practically means was fantastic, although I also realised that the cost that they are facing is so great with people thinking that they are part of a cult, Christians losing jobs, friends and family. Challenge number two – how much am I willing to risk for the gospel – when do I keep quiet when I should be standing up for it?

Meeting the CSC (Moldovan UCCF) was amazing because they are our brothers and sisters and they share the same vision but also because so many of them could be living and working anywhere else in the world but they choose to stay because they love their country, the gospel and the students they work with.

I think I’m very likely to write again about Moldova because it was so awesome but just wanted to share some of the challenges – it’s a reminder to myself that mission isn’t all about giving and doing things ourselves but remembering that God chooses to use us in his work – not vice versa!