This article could not possibly condense such a rich experience into words, but I will try.
During the Dormitories Kick-off GA last March 22, Kuya Dave Griffiths introduced us to the beach mission trip and encouraged us to participate and give our support. I prayed that the Lord would speak to those whom He called but I dismissed the idea of going since I was all set to go home for two weeks. But after a week, I was asked to report back to work.
I saw God’s sovereign hand at work when I learned that my uncle died on the day before my flight. Returning early enabled me to attend the wake, where I was struck by the realization that people die without knowing Jesus and that I needed to do my part.
At the summer fellowship meeting, I learned that the beach mission team had not left yet and I had the sudden desire to go along. I asked Kuya Dave if it was still possible to join the team. He asked me to wait since the van couldn’t fit all those who applied. At that moment of uncertainty, I knew that the Lord equips those whom He calls. Kuya Dave’s next message welcomed me to the team. I packed and left for my third short-term mission trip.
It was midnight by the time I arrived at the IVCF building. I said hi to the surprised faces, and tried to sleep amidst the chatter and bright lights. We had an early morning, but then again, all our mornings were early. We gathered at the OMF building, where we had a little ceremony with badges and sponges before leaving. Kuya Dave prayed that there would be no conflicts among the team and the love that became evident among us was the answer to that. People we met throughout the trip were surprised that some of us had only been friends for a few days.
I volunteered for the 13 up age group of the partner church’s DVBS, hoping that they would be the most mature bunch. I was wrong. They turned out to be the rowdiest ones and I was amazed by the patience Glenn, Kito, James Ryan, and Jaylord showed them.
The first beach we went to was within walking distance from the church building. We went into the water and played tug-of-war then basketball (with human hands as hoops) with the locals then buried the foreigner, Kuya Dave, in sand while someone shared the meanings of the different colors of the ball. That became our SOP in attracting crowds.
I noticed a kid who was sitting by himself. I gave him an Ang Tulay tract. I opened it then he explained it to me. I was so amazed, I told Kuya Dave about him and Kuya Dave told me to give him a bracelet, so I gave him one and taught him how to explain it to his friends.
We proceeded to Pundaquit Beach the next day. Watching them set up the tents made me think of us as tent makers. We were a bunch of students, teachers, and engineers. We weren’t missionaries, yet there we were, at a beach, proclaiming God’s message.
We had a bonfire that night (and every night after) with marshmallows and songs. The first ones we approached arrived and even brought their family with them. It made me ponder the latter part of Joshua 24:15.
“…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
The message during our first bonfire at Pundaquit Beach was so simple, it only spanned a few verses in the book of Luke:
On a hill, two criminals were crucified with the King of the Jews. They mocked him but then one of them believed in Him and was promised that on that day, he will be with Him in paradise. The criminal did not do anything good to merit his salvation, he simply accepted Jesus.
Faith, like the truth, is always simple. It does not need to be complicated by so many rituals, traditions, and saints. All it takes to be with Christ is to turn our backs on lives that mock Him and accept that His death and His death alone paid for all our sins.
Kuya Dave taught us a seemingly simple song which sums up the message we shared during the beach missions:
GOLD is God in kingdom light
BLACK is darkness of man’s plight
RED is shed blood on the cross for my pardon as I’m lost
WHITE as snow is God’s cleansing
GREEN is new life in the King
Another song comes into mind. Part of it goes:
There’s so much more than empty conversations
Filled with empty words
And you’re on fire
When He’s near you
You’re on fire
When He speaks
You’re on fire
Burning at these mysteries
~ Switchfoot, On Fire
Let’s be on fire. Speak. 🙂
- God’s sovereignty over plans and plane tickets
- God’s providence (and provision of transportation especially)
- the gospel we preach and the ability to preach it
- the team’s warmth
- the partner church’s hospitality
- learning to see people in the light of eternity
- the harvest field
- the jump-off points for conversations
- friendships and facebook
- encouragement from the Word
- breath-taking scenery that points to an Almighty Creator
- lots and lots and lots of pictures chronicling our adventure
- the delicious food (c/o Kuya Marlon, Faith, Ate Belle, and Rein)
- safe travel and protection even during the bus accident
- sleep deprivation
- patience with rowdy kids
- injuries resulting in “beautiful feet”
- approaching people
- catching and keeping people’s attention
- preaching the gospel in full
- sharing the gospel in Tagalog or Cebuano
- limited toilet and shower rooms
- memorizing verses in Tagalog
- sharing the gospel with people who know us
- deciphering handwritten contact details
- following up people we talked to
- keeping in touch with teammates
- regular quiet time