Where is your mission field?

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Carly Miller recently graduated George Mason University with a Masters of Social Work. This will be her 4th summer serving with FUGE, where she will be Directing at Louisville! Her idea of a perfect day is hammocking in the sunshine with a cup of crushed ice in her hand.

 

 

I had the incredible opportunity to visit South Africa and do ministry with a Fuge team for Spring Break. One day my team went to downtown Johannesburg in a part of the city called Braamfontein. We met up with two members of a local church, Masimba and Cece. We walked around downtown, looking for religious places and people, trying to learn the heartbeat of the city. We prayer walked, prayed with and met members of the community and just tried to learn what the name of Jesus Christ meant to this part of the city. We also would just share the love of Jesus and what He has done in our lives with the people that we met in the community.

We took a break from our time walking around to sit down for lunch and I was able to talk with one of the church members, Cece. She asked me if I do this where I live. I asked, “Do I do what?”. She said “You know, do you walk around, evangelize and tell people about Jesus in your city?” Conviction and guilt set in. I honestly had to think about it for some time. Well, I live life in my city. I go to work. I go to school. I go to church. I try to live my life for Christ and tell friends about him. I try to encourage others in their walks with the Lord. But do I walk around my city purposely looking to meet new people, develop those relationships, and share the gospel with them? I’m going to be real honest and say that that is not normally the primary goal that I have for my everyday life. And why is it not? Cece is here in her city, walking around praying specifically for her city, and telling others about Jesus and what He has done in her life. However my sinful, selfish nature gets in the way and wants to stay comfortable. Throughout my time in Joburg, I definitely learned that I need to break out of my comfort zone and that we as Christians are called to share this GREAT news that we know about Jesus Christ with everyone around us. I also learned that as Christ’s followers, we all have a mission field and are called to it.

Yes, I loved serving the Lord in South Africa and I definitely left a piece of my heart there. And yes, I am already yearning to return there and travel to other parts of the world. But as for now, the Lord has brought me back to the States. Wherever we all are, He has us here for a reason. We are to follow His will and His plan and be “missionaries” wherever we are in life. We are called to give God glory in everything that we do, wherever we are. I encourage you to view where you are at as your mission field. Talk to your neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, and strangers. Develop relationships with them, find out where they are in life, and ask what they know about Jesus. Share your heart with them and what the Lord has done in your life. This is not just supposed to happen at camp or on a mission trip, but in our real imperfect lives. And the best part is that the Lord is going to walk right alongside us in this mission!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” – Deuteronomy 31:6

But actually go ahead and just read all of Deuteronomy 31 because it just continues to tell of the Lord’s faithfulness. He is going to be faithful to us in this mission! The Lord is not asking us to do this by our own doing, but saying that He will be there with us as we share with others about His goodness. So be strong and have courage! Go out to your mission field (your city, your school, your sports team, your club, your neighborhood), learn how to love and care for those people and share Jesus with them. The Lord will be walking right alongside you.

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Laborers

libby2Libby Shwartz is a senior at NC State University studying Interpersonal Communication. She finds joy in early morning cups of coffee, acrylic paints, and Ben Rector music. This upcoming summer will be her second summer as a Centrifuge Bible Study Leader. She worked Ridgecrest last year and is very excited to serve at Union University this upcoming summer!  She recently had the opportunity to go to Johannesburg, South Africa with some fellow FUGE staffers and loved every second of it.

 

The ground there is nothing but dirt, sand and rocks. The sun shines bright and beams rays of heat that leaves white skin burnt and crisp. The homes stand just short of seven feet tall, made of plastic, metal and cardboard. And the clothes are freshly washed and hanging on a line to dry.

I left my heart in this place. In Soweto, a township of Gauteng, South Africa, that is.

It was left in six year old Offensa’s little shack where Offensa, my teammate and I had an impromptu funny face competition which was quickly followed by sounds of giggles filling the small room. It was left with Offensa’s mother, who was single, unemployed and dedicated to raising a twelve month old baby girl and six year old Offensa with cerebral palsy. It was left when Offensa ran up and gave me an endearing hug goodbye and the sweet memory of walking away, turning around moments later and seeing him still watching us in the street.

It was left in the welcoming greetings and the quick connections where strangers instantly became friends. It was left with the beautiful moments where difference in language did not halt communication, but enhanced it. It was left in the moments of roaring laughter and ear to ear smiles on the faces of seven South African children who wanted nothing more than to be held, chased and loved. It was left in the memory of three of them piling onto my lap and taking turns popping my air filled checks with their tiny hands.

Lastly, and most importantly, it was left with the unfamiliar, but powerful sounds of the Gospel being spoken in Zulu and the reminder that the God we serve embraces culture and His power far surpasses any language or cultural barrier.

My heart is still there. Can’t you tell?

To be completely honest, walking to class this morning was a big challenge. It was hard for me to realize and accept that when I got off that seventeen hour flight yesterday, I said goodbye to South Africa and unwillingly welcomed America back into my life.

As small as this is, it really bothers me that I can’t greet people as I go to class in the mornings without getting a death glare and a snicker here and there from the people surrounding me.

It really bothers me that I feel the pressure to look presentable and nice everywhere I go because of a deep fear of man’s rejection.

It really bothers me that everyday I am subjected to the demands of American culture and its teachings that preach pride and discontentment.

So, you ask, what did I learn in my short time in South Africa? I learned just this. With humility and service, comes contentment. When we are focused less on ourselves and more on the Lord and His work, we begin to deeply appreciate the Gospel in a way that transforms first, our hearts and second, our words and deeds. We lose sight of our own self and become transformed by Jesus, who simply desires our humble submission to His call.

We are called to be laborers. Laborers who attack with intentionality, pursue with truth, and love with grace. So see to it, friends. Because, there is so much work to be done.

Then he said to his disciples, “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.” -Matthew 9:37-38

 

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Enough is enough.

Twenty months ago, I was on the other side of the world kneeling on a scorching metal roof, hammer in hand, overcome with emotion and asking God lots of questions. I was in Sanyati, Zimbabwe, leading a team that was helping to install a new roof on the HIV/AIDS wing of  Sanyati Baptist Hospital. It was late in the week, and the roof was nearing completion. We’d spent that morning inside the hospital, looking into the eyes of those who we’d spent all week laboring on behalf of. We knelt next to rickety hospital beds and prayed with the HIV positive, most of whom had no idea if they’d live to walk out of their hospital rooms. We begged God for healing:  both for restoration of bodies, and for a revival in  souls. “Jesus, come,” was the cry of our hearts.

But, after a weighty several days, I felt defeated. There was too much to do,  too many dying, not enough doctors,  too few resources. In a few days, I was going to return to my embarrassingly comfortable life in the US. The difference I was making seemed minuscule compared to the reality of the issues I was facing. “It’s not enough” played over and over in my mind. Then came the reassurance of the Gospel itself: it is not up to me. There is something that is relentlessly true both in the poverty of Africa and in the poverty of my own sinful heart: the grace of Christ has nothing to do with me, yet it is mine to enjoy.

So, in spite of my limited resources, my finite knowledge, my self-seeking tendencies, and all my other excuses … God is working.  He is working in Africa, and He is working around the globe. He is restoring communities, healing the sick, growing churches,  mending families, bringing hope.

Yes, there is much to be done. He has called the Church to step forward in the name of the broken, sick, and hurting. So, yes, serve your neighbor. Go to the nations. Support missionaries. Speak out for the oppressed. Pray for revival. Marvel at Jesus’ sacrifice.  Make redemption the theme of your days and the Gospel message the absolute focus of your life. It is the most important thing you could ever do.

But let us not become overwhelmed  by what’s before us. The task is great, but our Savior is greater. Let’s not forget what was already finished on the Cross. Let’s rest in the all-sufficient work of Christ. 

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A History of Giving

At FUGE, we’re about the Kingdom. As followers of Jesus, God calls us to live generous and sacrificial lives. This means praying for, serving, and going to the nations. That is why we collect a missions offering at camp. We know we have been blessed with much, and that we must hold loosely to the things of this earth. Like the church in Acts 2, we want to be a people who distributes what we have to all who have need.  Ultimately, we hope through our giving, Jesus will be made much of and new believers will be brought into the Kingdom.

Between CentriKid and FUGE, over $11 million has been given since 1984 to support IMB missionaries.

Check out this brief video from Dr. Tom Eliff, President of the International Mission Board, thanking FUGE and CentriKid for coming alongside IMB missionaries to join them in reaching those who have never heard the Good News of Jesus.

Different.

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Today’s post comes to us from 4 year  FUGE staffer Paul Goble. Paul recently returned from South Africa, where he served with other staffers running a week-long student camp in Cape Town (pictured above). This summer, Paul will serve as the Camp Director at MFuge in Nashville.  Paul loves to play disc golf, bowl, and cheer on the Atlanta Braves.

 

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.” – John Keats

Back in March, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, with ten of the most amazing people that I’ve ever had the opportunity to spend time with. While there, we led a Christian leadership camp for around 30 local teenagers and young adults who came from several of the local Xhosa churches. The Xhosa people are one of the largest people groups in South Africa, and the vast majority of them live in poverty, still suffering from the effects of apartheid policies that were not abolished until 1994. The camp that we ran was very similar to Centrifuge; with quiet times, a morning celebration, and Bible study in the morning, recreation time in the afternoon, and worship, community group time, and a nightlife event every evening. Our theme for the week was Oneness, and we were able to talk to the students all week about what it looks like to be united together as the body of Christ, even when we come from different communities, different schools, different churches, or even different continents.

Our time in country was short but phenomenal, and there are so many moments from it that I will never forget and have impacted me in a huge way. Perhaps my favorite experience, and one that occurred several times throughout the week, was the opportunity to see God worshipped through singing and prayer in a completely foreign language and culture. I’ve been out of the country one other time in my life, but this was the first time I was able to worship with international believers, and it affected me in an incredible way. I knew before travelling to South Africa that my God was the God of all nations and peoples, but it wasn’t until I sat face to face with Xhosa believers and heard their stories and worshipped alongside them that I really began to fully grasp what that looks like. Our God never changes, but our understanding of Him is constantly growing and being shaped by our experiences, and this is something that God made very clear to me from my time in Cape Town. We can “know” so many things about God’s character, but it is in those intimate moments in our relationship with Him when we are serving Him fully that He lifts the curtain and opens our eyes a little bit more to just how big He truly is.

During our week of camp, we talked about the ideas of one God, one body, and one goal. I understand those concepts so much more clearly now than I did before travelling to South Africa. If we are to be a people who are growing in our faith, then we must be a people who are serving, who are sharing the gospel, who are taking the story of Christ and his love for humanity to every corner of the earth. God is big, and He is moving in South Africa and in the lives of the Xhosa people there. And I am different because of it.

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The FUGE Staff Cape Town team: Nathan Howard, Paul Goble, Kate Pedziwol, Bruce McKee, Frans Johnson, Mariana Sterne, Tyler Fulbright, John Garner, Kristy Cothran, Leah Colvin, Brittany Taylor, Chelsea Ferguson.

Simply Go.

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Today’s post comes to us from former Camp Director Lindsay Evancho. Lindsay recently led a team of FUGE staffers to Dakar, Senegal in West Africa for a week long mission trip. She worked camp for 5 summers, and most recently served as the director at the University of the Cumberlands. Though this was her first time to Africa, Lindsay has previously done missions in Peru and Nicaragua, as well as around the US.  She hopes to serve internationally long-term. Lindsay loves the Louisville Cardinals and making fruit smoothies.

At Fuge, we are advocates for mission work around the world. We pray for missions, give to missions, and are challenged to serve. In March, a group of Fuge staffers were obedient to the call to serve in Dakar, Senegal.

If you are like us, you may be wondering where on earth is Dakar? It is the capital of Senegal, a country in West Africa. It sits as a costal mega city on the Western most tip of Africa. The country is predominately Muslim with an under layer of animism from tribal groups in Senegal. The people are extremely friendly, greet everyone they meet (even children), value family, and hold peace to the highest importance. Neighborhoods are safe due to the Muslim influence. Despite all this, the Senegalese’s need for a Savior is so great that even daily sounds remind you of how lost they are. Waking up to prayer calls from mosques, hearing drums and tribal chants, and being reminded that we all serve the same god are just the beginnings of a long road toward eternal life change.

Our small group worked alongside an urban team of missionaries who are striving to share the gospel and teach English in the poorest neighborhoods of Dakar. Our mornings were spent walking the sandy streets of Grand Yoff, greeting people and engaging in conversation with hopes of sharing truth and the gospel. Often labeled as “tubobs” (Wolof for white person), people constantly asked why we were in Senegal. Such a perfect way to share our faith even through a translator in another language or two (Senegalese speak multiple languages like Wolof and French)! One morning, we were sitting in a small shop talking with a tailor when the ground outside the shop caved in as a dump truck was trying to turn around in the street. Such a close call put everyone in direct communication with God not to mention huddled together! Another morning, we witnessed a bar owner accept Christ. He had heard the gospel before but wanted to know more so he sought out the tubobs. Praise God for what He allows us to witness by just being obedient!

In the afternoons, we brought camp to Dakar by hosting an English camp and kids club. Our English camp was filled with games, dramas about the life of Joseph, and movie time. Participants were university students and adults who were currently taking English classes at the Baptist Center (run by missionaries). We discussed forgiveness, mercy, love, and Jesus during these sweet times of fellowship and study. Our kids club was full of loud games, dramatic story telling, and a little craft action. Such a joyous time of seeing little faces simply be children without the hardships of a life full of poverty. Unable to share the gospel with children due to Senegalese law, we shared love and Bible stories that we are praying they remember.

Our week was short, but definitely impactful in our lives and hopefully the lives of others. We will not forget those who call Dakar home. The urban team of missionaries has a mountain to climb in reaching people through conversations. We pray that partnership churches will continue to see needs and respond to the call of sharing with these neighborhoods. May God do great things with the people of Senegal.

But wait . . . what about you? Continue to pray for the work in Senegal and sub-Saharan Africa. Continue to give to the cause. But, what about going? Let’s remember that God chose the church to share his gospel. Ephesians 3:10 states, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known. . .” Our Creator could have chosen any way to make Himself known, but He chose us! That’s a huge deal. It doesn’t even mean jumping on the next plane to Africa. It means looking at the person in the desk next to you, in line behind you, or at the end of your street and sharing. It means finally going to the people group that God has placed on your heart. It means not taking the task entrusted to us lightly. It means being a generation obedient to the call to action. It simply means go. For the glory of God alone.

 

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The Senegal team: Lindsey Evancho, Rachel Freeny, Kelsey Copeland, Whitney Durham