Blake worked for FUGE for the first time last summer as a support staffer. Blake lives in Oswego, Illinois. He is a communications major at Aurora University preparing to work in student ministry. Blake loves sports, movies, Dr. Pepper and giving smothering bear hugs.
Over Christmas I went to East Asia with a fellow staffer, and our experience was nothing short of amazing. This trip made a huge impact on my life. I am from Chicago, and the city we were in felt like much like this. It was large with a certain hustle and bustle that made me feel right at home. Lara and I spent a week and a half going to English classes at a local university. We became friends with the students by going to lunches and dinners, playing sports, going to bible studies, and just hanging out and building relationships.
One of my favorite moments was getting to teach and play football with the students. Most of the guys, and a few brave girls, had never held a football before, but were very excited to learn. I had to start from the ground up in teaching them the basics. In the span of two hours they had learned how to throw, catch, run with the ball, run passing routes, and play defense. Even when some of them messed up, they all picked each other up and had a smile on their faces. When they played, they ran around like they had an infinite amount of energy. At the end we talked about how football and attitudes relate to life.
The entire trip, challenged me. Most of the time when people go across the street or around the world to share the good news, we run into a major problem. When our main, and often only, objective is to share the gospel, students see right through us and aren’t willing to hear what we have to say. It is only through genuine friendship that they will listen. Our host told Lara and I that if we went into a conversation with an ulterior motive we would be shut out. We had to develop a friendship first, otherwise our words would not have the same effect. I took what she said to heart and instead of going in “Bible blazing,” I made it my goal to open the door for God’s Word to be heard through friendships. I made a few connections and decided to be intentional with one student. We went to lunch and hung out when he had class. By the end of the two weeks I had the opportunity to share my faith. He respectfully listened and seemed to be interested in Jesus. Friendship opened the door for me to share my faith.
I encourage everyone, whether you go across the street or across the world, to do what Jesus did. Do not shy away from your faith, but at the same time, do not forget about the person. Show the love of Christ to others and pursue a friendship. Friendships can open up the door to sharing your faith. Be intentional about the time you spend with others. A man at my church, Tom Pollard, always reminds us to, “be Jesus with skin on.” Make everything you do be a reflection of Jesus and people will begin to notice and wonder what makes you different.
Visit fugeforasia.com for more info on how you can pray, give, and go to East Asia peoples.