BC Juniors Global

Join Barclay College students as they learn about Christian life, service, and leadership in the global classroom.


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Many forms of Ministry and walking in Dedication

These past several days have come with several blessings and challenges that need different types of processing, and I am grateful that I have friends in my team to help.  We recently ministered at a camp for refugees and I have to admit I was very nervous and did not have confidence in what God was calling me to right away.  On day one, all of the doubt and nervousness faded away because of what I saw and how Christ was already at work within the people whom we were serving.  Our role was to engage the men in many types of ministry but especially to lead the Bible studies and this was my first time leading.  Although I was worried that I would not know how to lead, I really felt God leading me and we had very meangingful Bible studies because God led the way.  We all were able to learn from each other and it was very fun to watch them experience God’s presence in many ways.  I am grateful for this because I have felt that God has put me in yet another leadership position where he has asked me to pick up the local Bible study at Barclay College for men known as “Iron Sharpening Iron.”  This is my first time announcing it but my heart is in it because I know it is needed and I am honored to lead it and serve others.  I am excited to see how God uses me to lead others.  

Our time of helping at the camp sadly came to an end and I wish that we were able to stay because how they loved each other and had a heart for God, it was very contagious and an amazing experience.  One reason in particular that I wanted to come on this trip and I also believe that God was in agreeable, it was because I had only ever heard negative things about those who in the Islamic faith and I was tired of hearing everyone’s opinions that I did not want to view this religion the way we were taught.  Since I have served with my time to help the many Muslim refugees, my knowledge of Islamic belief has changed for the best.  The people we have been blessed to serve are very nice, outgoing, loving, and curious not unlike the many in America.  I hate stereotypes and the power that they hold that we feed.  Sadly the small five percent of how both cultures go to the extreme define those stereotypes on both sides.  I learned in the past several days as the refugees learned from us, those living in or are from the Middle-East are not bad, but are very good people just as several had known that Americans were bad, our service changed their thinking.  This week we were blessed to see God destroy those barriers within our service and learn from each other.  As we left, many shook our hands and hugged us and I pray that Christ would use them and their hunger for his presence in their service to others.  

Yesterday we left Athens to venture out to see the many ancient cities of the Biblical history.  So far we have seen Thessaloniki, Philipi, and a small village where Lidia served.  To see these many places that once and still do have an enormous impact on the world and Christianity is so powerful to experience.  To walk where the Apostle Paul walked and to see the many sights where he had ministered, it is very encouraging.  Tomorrow we will be exploring Thessaloniki even more and later this week we will visit Corinth and see what God has done and what he is still doing there.  I am so very thankful that God has brought me on this trip and how it is enhancing my faith and my walk with Christ even more, although in these powerful moments I have been stumbling sometimes in worth within the team and what God is asking me to learn and take away from this trip even more than I already have.  Many feelings from my past before coming to Christ have made their way back into my life and I know that it is the enemy trying to hinder me and I am thankful that I have a team that cares about me and these issues that I have to work through.  God has helped me grow so much in my time at Barclay and he is helping me even more now, but this walk is not meant for me to do alone and I think that is where he wants me to focus.  Blessed are those who accept God’s love.  

Thank you so much everyone who has been praying for me and our team, it has been a lifechanging experience and it cannot be undersold.  I am very excited to see how God uses these moments here in Greece for my service later in life.  I am so happy that I can rest in the Lord and when we get back rest will be surely needed but God gives us what this world cant, and that is faith, love, and perseverance.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  – Phillipians 4:13 

God is working through us even when we dont see it, dont latch on to your former self and do not let your fears come to life, I believe fear comes when we do not focus on God’s presence and we feed our own fears which is what the Devil wants.  Take it from me and what I have been dealing with this past week, that the pain in the past can forever haunt your future if you latch onto it.  It is a doomed life that God does not want for us and if we seek him the pains of the past will lose their power over us and that is when God showed us our potential and it is wonderful feeling to be free of the pain of this world.  “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid and do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

We decide what drives us, or we can decide to trust who wants to lead us to greatness. . . 
                                                                                                        -George Jackson-

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Where Struggle and Blessing Meet

It’s hard to believe over two weeks have already past. It feels like only yesterday we were getting off the plane, wishing we were in bed, but now we are less than a week from leaving and heading home. I have this strange feeling that our time here has been incredible incomplete. Like there is so much more to be done, and yet we won’t see it. But looking back, I suppose we just need to be grateful for the time we have. Over the past two weeks, I have been challenged in ways I never would have suspected and blessed in ways I never could have imagined. And I have been blessed beyond belief this week. But I find that the greatest blessing I have found came from the place where struggle and blessing meet. And this week, I was blessed enough to witness just a glimpse of that place, and my heart was deeply touched.

This past week we’ve been working at a little camp that this past week was hosting a refugee family camp. The camp mostly consisted of refugee families that had come to know the Lord, but that was not everyone. While he wasn’t the only one who came alone, one man(who we’ll call “R” for the sake of confidentiality) had been alone for much longer. Unlike everyone else R was not a Christian. For thirty-eight years he had no one he could call family. For thirty-eight years hate filled his heart. For thirty-eight years he had not heard the sound of laughter and joy coming from a child. For thirty-eight years he had no hope, love, or happiness. He had only recent arrived in Athens and had no where to go, and yet somehow and someway, R was brought to this camp, and for the first time in thirty-eight years he felt love and joy in his heart. For the first time in thirty-eight he felt like he had a family. For the first time, he had hope. For the first time, R had Jesus. Or maybe Jesus had him. R didn’t know Jesus when he came to camp, but worked relentlessly in his heart over the course of those five days and I believe in all my heart that he has left knowing Him a little better and that God is only beginning to work in R’s life.

So what do we say then? How do we process so much brokenness and so much grace? I’m not sure we can, at least I can’t. My words are too weak, too feeble, to even begin to approach the vastness of those things. People may even be able to write books upon books and fail to capture the hurt and joy that comes from life and from knowing Christ. I know this: we are all of us broken and worn. We are in desperate need of Christ. And this past week I have met people who have found that hope for the first time, the same hope I’ve taken for granted for so many years, and to see them all finding fullness in Christ when everything in their lives has fallen to pieces, gives my heart much joy. I think I will remember many things from this trip, but what I think I will remember most is people like R. People who are so hurt and broken and yet are overflowing with the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as their savior. It is a joy that stands above all understanding and that warms the hearts of all who come into contact with it.

-Josiah(Brosiah)

Philippians 4:6-7


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live. love. serve.

Today has been insane and it is nowhere close to being finished. Today was my day to lead the women’s discussion at camp. I was super nervous all morning because of this, which is just so silly thinking back because this is what I was called to do!!! My calling in life is to bring hope to women. Figuring out this calling has been a very painful and difficult process that has taken years, but I am finally here and I am striving to fully embrace it.

God has been teaching me a multitude of things on this trip about life, love and ministry, and I desperately feel the need to share these lessons with you.

Lessons About Life: 

I never thought I had a “the whole world revolves around me” mindset, but I have been so humbled on this trip just to double and triple check and even quadruple check that I really do know that the world does not revolve around me. *cough, cough* Thanks, Jesus. What I mean by this is that I have a pride issue that was hidden. *gulp* Did I really just admit to the entire world that I am prideful? Yes, I did. Admitting things like this in church seems taboo, it seems scandalous, because then the whispers seem to start. “Did you hear that so-and-so struggles with such-and-such?? And they are in ministry? They are a leader?” Now please hear me out with this, I know that not all church members are like this, but I also know from experience that just as many are, and yes, I will be the first to admit it, I have done this too. We all do it. But here is the thing- THE CHURCH SHOULD BE THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO TO ADMT YOU HAVE AN ISSUE. It should be a safe place to discuss such things. You should feel liberated and you should experience freedom when you admit your struggles. Because contrary to popular belief, WE ALL HAVE SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.

But unfortunately, that does not seem to be reality.

We live in a comparative society. We compare our deep dark secrets, the worst part of ourselves, to other people’s “picture perfect” lives. We look at social media and we see edited, exagerated pieces of someone else’s “perfect” life. We think that life would be better if we could look like this person (even though they took 20+ selfies and spent 30 minutes editing that picture to get just the right filter), or if our family did what that family does (even though just after that perfectly staged picture, the three year old started throwing a temper tanrtum), or if we could have the glamour of moving to or experiencing a new culture (even though the culture shock alone makes that person want to move back home and never leave their comfort zone again).

We compare.
And I believe this is the sneakiest tactic the enemy uses.

We are taught that we need to be better than other people, but we continually feel like we are incapable of being “as good as” the next person.

I say all of this because I can relate to all of these things and admitting it takes a lot of humility, because of my pride issue. Yes, I said it again.

The Lord has been teaching me a lot about humility over the last 11 months. One of the things I have been working on is being on my phone less. I expect people to not be on their phone so they can be fully present with me. But I realized I can never expect someone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. I want to be more fully present when I am around people. I want to be more intentional with those around me, so I have been trying to be on my phone less when I am with other people even if they do not have the same goal; I want to strive to make them feel important and not like I am bored with them.

All that to say, when I came to Greece, I kind of lost that mentality. Here is where that “the world revolves around me” mindset comes into play. I thought I needed to be involved and aware of what was going on back home. I thought I coud be present both places, but boy was I wrong. I was so caught up in everything happening back home that it was nearly impossible for me to be present with my team at the start of this trip. I am not on my phone now as much as I was at the start of the trip, but I also know that I could still be better with it. I know that Haviland does not need me to function properly right now; but my team here does. Because if I am not present, then our team is lacking in ability and talent. And I firmly believe that God brought all five of us here for specific purposes at this specific time…together. We need each other to be present to be able to take away from this trip what God intended.

I am learning that walking humbly means recognizing that the world does not revolve around you.. But not just recognizing it, reminding yourself daily and then taking actions to be fully present with those around you.

Lessons About Love: 

In learning about life and ministry, I have seen an absolutely beautiful picture of love since I have been in Athens.

The two greatest commandments are about loving God and loving others; the Great Commission is making disciples of all the nations. It would make sense that the two shoud coincide, right? Ministry is hard work; there is no doubt about that. I do not want to downplay any of the ministry work I have seen in America. I have witnessed and experienced passionate and transformational ministry in the States, but I have also experienced ministry work that was completed simply to check it off a list and that is absolutely not acceptable.

Since we have been in Greece, we have been so incredibly blessed to experience ministry full of love. Despite how frustrating a situation should or could be, each person we are serving beside serves with love and grace and it is so very evident in everything that they do, and beyond that, it is beautiful to watch happen.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Every person I have served alongside or that I have watched serve others over the last two weeks is rooted deeply in love and I have learned so much from being a part of the process.

Love in ministry is…
-being patient when a child throws a water balloon at your head
-showing kindness to the meanest people that you encounter
-not jealous because someone else is being recognized more than you
-not bragging about all of the things you do just to impress people
-respecting every person that you encounter
-building others up
-not blowing up on someone because they messed up
-beautiful, raw, and vunerable. 

Lessons About Ministry: 

Over the course of the last five years, I have built up this sort of expectation about ministry and how I think it should work. I came to Greece with those expectations in place without being aware of it.

Before I came, I asked a lot of people what the best advice they had for a trip like this was and I heard over and over to come in with zero expectations and let God blow my mind.

I thought that is where I was. However, I became incredibly discouarged very early in the trip because I was most excited to be a part of women’s ministry in a new culture… But I felt utterly useless with the language barrier. I was at a point where I was basically yelling at God asking why He brought me here if I was not capable of doing anything for the women. Why was I here to see women’s ministry if I was working with children?

I want to share part of an entry from my journal from last week:

July 19

When I woke up this morning, I did not want to move because I had a nightmare last night that kept me awake from 2-5 this morning. I was pretty overwhelmed, but did not want to miss the shower day for women.

As we arrived at Helping Hands and the women started to come in one by one, I was getting more and more overwhelmed. A few kids trickled in, and Hannah was right at home playing with them as I awkwardly sat there and watched.
Finally, a few came to me to play with the kitchen stuff and it was super awkward at first. But slowly, very slowly, it became less and less awkward for me. When I started to feel more calm about working with the kiddos, I started to slowly become more aware of what was happening in the room around me.

I was in the area where the kids were was very chaotic, but there was a weird overwhelming sense of peace over the place, so I began to look around and what I saw, took my breath away.

I immediately began to feel like I was a part of something far bigger than I could ever understand. As I looked around I saw that nearly all of the women were surrounding a couple of different tables, and they were being pampered.. It was the most beautiful thing. They were either having their hair braided or their nails done; some were making jewelry, some coloring, some laughing and some were simply resting. There were so many things happening and everyone was so content and full of joy. It was utterly beautiful.

I was part of something far bigger in those moments than simply being force fed plastic food by children. I was just exactly where I have been praying to be for months. I have been praying not that the Lord would prepare these places of ministry for me, but that He would prepare me for what He has already been doing.

And He did just that.

I desperately wanted to be a part of womens mininstry in a new culture and at first I thought I was just a small part of the childrens ministry here..and I was bitter about that.

But then I remembered my prayer and God reminded me that playing with the kiddos is one of the most crucial pieces to make womens ministry happen. Women need to know their babies are safe so that they can fully engage in what the Lord has before them. And when He revealed this beautiful truth to me, I was so humbled to be a part of the process.

I thought that was all God wanted to teach me about ministry, but I was so incredibly wrong. This week we have been working at an Iranian and Afghan believer’s camp and our team was selected to lead the discussion groups…and in case you were unaware, NONE OF US SPEAK FARSI. *Cue anxixety here.* Thankfully we were going to have translators with us. Hannah led two days ago when I stayed home with a migraine and she was also amazing and led the group yesteday as well because I was too awkward to do it. But today was my day.

Moment of honesty.

I was not looking forward to leading at all. After being a part of yesterday’s discussion, I was again frustrated with God and my purpose for being here. I began to question the purpose for short term trips to do ministry because my passion for relational ministry kicked in and I felt incapable of being able to lead authentic ministry for these people I do not know. I do not know their stories, I do not know their names, I do not know the first thing about them; but I am expected to lead them in a discussion to show them more about Jesus?? I have a hard time when someone walks into my life and tries to tell me how to live my life with no intention of staying long-term…so why do I think I can do that to someone else?

All morning I was praying that no one would come or that there would only be a few so it woud be less intimidating. Hah. God has a funny way of working those things out, it seems. Because I am pretty sure there were more women here today than yesterday.

All the sudden it was discussion time. Yikes. 

The lesson today was based out of Ephesians 2, so that is what our discussion questions were based on. The discussion started out a bit slow and I felt like I was a horrible leader or something.

But all the sudden there was a switch.

And things got deep and raw and vulnerable in a mere moment. The fact that everything was being translated no longer mattered to me. The fact that these women were bearing their souls to me and everyone else took my breath away. These women began to share about depression and mental health and it was heartbreakingly beautiful to experience.

And then I felt the Lord gently tugging on my heart to get deep and raw and vunerable. So I shared some of my darkest moments, my battle with depression and struggle with suicide, and was able to relate to them through a common struggle. Because of that, I was able to offer hope to these hurting women.

I have known for a long time that my purpose in life is to bring the same hope and freedom to other people’s lives that transformed me. Over the last few years, I have been able to do that through my form of relational ministry.. But today God reminded me that He knows no limits. That He still uses the most unlikely people to do His work. That He has a plan for me that far exceeds my expectations and I am so thankful for that because I would sell myself short far too much if it were up to me. He reminded me that He is continually working behind the scenes to orchastrate moments like this so that as He is transforming others, He is transforming me as well.

Sometimes ministry is…
-playing with tiny humans who want to force-feed you plastic food
-dancing to the cupid shuffle in front of a room full of people you do not know
-feeling out of place
-awkward because you need a translator
-making bracelets with people you do not know so that when you leave this place and wear the jewelry, you will remember to pray for them
-confusing and frustrating

But here is the thing:
MINISTRY IS ALWAYS WORTH IT.

 

Until Next Time,
April

PS- today was the best, most transformational, challenging, and rewarding day I have had on this entire trip.


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Freedom and Stories

Hello from Greece!  If you have been following the blogs, you may be wondering if I made it through Monday after Hannah said that I’m so klutzy I wasn’t going to make it! :). Well, I survived with no incidents.  (Hannah may have exaggerated a bit!) The team is doing well and probably a little too comfortable with one another! 🙂 There is much sarcasm and laughter among the group; I don’t think anyone would have wanted it any other way. Seriously though, through the good and the difficult, I believe God is answering our prayers by bringing us together as a team. 

I’ve had a few things that have consistently come back to my mind that I want to share. Last week during the women’s shower day I saw a lady who had a tattoo that said “Free”.  I was surprised to see her have a tattoo in the first place, but I was even more surprised to see that word. It sparked several questions: What is her definition of freedom?  Does she feel free or is that what she is longing for?  Does she feel more freedom now that she is in Greece and away from a lot of the turmoil of her home country? Does she know the depth of freedom that is available to her right now in Christ?  If she doesn’t feel free, does this represent her desire and hope that one day she will be free?  As I sat thinking about this, she then proceeded to put back on her long clothes and head covering–this saddened me. While some women still decide to wear their head covering after becoming a Christian, or it takes them awhile to understand this freedom, it felt like that was a picture of the freedom she doesn’t have. I don’t know her story or if she is a believer, but my prayer for her is that she will be able to experience true freedom in Christ.

That same day as we were cleaning the ministry center, I was mopping and there was a precious little girl sleeping in her stroller near me.  Seeing her, I began to think about her story and how much has happened in her life in such a short time even though she has no idea of any of it since she is so little. I was thinking about how her story has changed. It has changed because God brought her and her family to Greece.  It changed because God had provided a place for them that, while it may not be home or familiar, it is away from the chaos in their country. It changed because God brought them to the ministry center. It changed because her mom felt safe enough to let her daughter sleep peacefully in the stroller while she chatted with friends across the room and she had no fear that anything would happen to her daughter.  These changes are significant for many reasons…her story is different now. When she gets old enough to understand, her story doesn’t only include the fact that her family had to flee when she was a baby, but now it includes the help and hope that they received. Her story includes how her life was spared when that wasn’t the case for some. Her story includes the love that she has been shown at the center. And my prayer is that her story will also include how God showed himself to her family during their time in Greece and that she grows up to be a God-fearing, God-seeking, faithful child and daughter of God. Everytime I interact with the refugees, I pray that they will experience the freedom of Christ daily and that their story will be changed dramatically. 

This week we are serving at a camp with a new group of refuges with different stories and a hope for freedom.   Yesterday during our discussion group, one of the questions was “Why do you think God brought you to Greece?”  All of the women (we were split in men’s and women’s groups) could have responded that they had to leave in fear of their lives and the lives of their families.  They could have said that they didn’t want to come and they didn’t know why God brought them here. I somewhat expected that, but that is not what I heard. What I heard was testimonies of how God brought these ladies here so that they could find Him. Some did allude to the fact that they didn’t want to come to Greece at the beginning, but all of them said that God had plans and if they wouldn’t have come to Greece they wouldn’t have found the Lord.   How amazing is it that those that are forcing them to flee are actually pushing them to a place where they will have more freedom instead of fear, where they are getting help from several people and organizations, but several are hearing about the love of God.  God truly does make good out of the circumstances that people try to use for harm.  

I could probably write several pages tonight about what I have heard, the beautiful people I have met, and the stories that have been shared, but I hope this gives a glimpse of some of the ways that God is working!  We appreciate your prayers and ask that you continue to pray!  The days are long and it has been very hot–plus, most of Greece does not have air conditioning–so being at camp and in the sun tends to be even more draining, but we are definitely energized by the people we are meeting.  God is at work and he is allowing us to see how he is moving and bringing people to Him.

Thanks for your support!  Below are a few pictures of our time on Monday. The first is in front of Mars Hill, the sign is Acts 17 in Ancient Greek. The other pictures are from climbing up to the Parthenon.  

~Tiffany 



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Last Week(Or A Lesson in What it Means to Serve) 

Last week I was discouraged. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with me. Being fun and entergetic is something I genuinely enjoy being, but sometimes the story of the heart is different than the one we present to others. When we first got here I was full of such enthusiasm. I was tired yes, but the feeling of being in a new country along with the knowledge that we were here to present the Gospel and serve the Islamic refugees filled my heart with such excitement that I could barely contain myself. And it has been everything I expected, and yet it hasn’t and as last week began, I couldn’t help but feel discouraged.

You see, I am haunted by this feeling: That I’m not doing enough. That I can do little in the time we’ve been given. That when we get home, I will still just be me. That in my desperation to have life changing experiences, I will miss the ones right in front of me. That I am only chasing after the next spiritual high. That I will never be satisfied. That my time here is little more than a glorified vacation. That when it comes down to it, I care much more about what I can get out of this trip than I care about how Christ is working in the lives of  those we are serving. That I will be unable to overcome my own inadequacies to make a difference to much of anyone. That I am far too self concerned to make a difference for Christ. And, maybe worst of all, that dispite being aware of all my imperfections and doubts, that I will be unable to truly change. That I will live through the rest of my life always being aware of how much room I have for improvement, but be helpless to do anything. That in the end, I will never be a true follower of Jesus.

“I came to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! Who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief?”- John Wesley

I came to Greece to serve the Muslim refugees. And I have done that. I’ve helped prepare and serve meals. I’ve talked with a few of the refugees. I’ve spent some time trying to learn a little bit of their language, Persian(Farsi). I even spent last Wednesday at the beach with one of the refugees. But how can these little things share Christ? These little things are nice, but what am I doing really? What difference am I really making? In many ways, I was ashamed I felt that way at all.

But that was last week. And last week God was teaching me much about what it means to serve Him and not myself. I wasn’t listening at first, but God is patient and I think I am starting to understand. My time here in Greece is short, but that doesn’t mean Christ will not use the time we spend here in vain. I may never proclaim with my own words the Gospel. But I can share the love of Christ by showing these refugees that they have meaning and worth. They who have been forced out of their own homes and who have been told that no one wants them, I can listen to them and their stories. I can serve them food. I can play a game of chess with them or spend a day at the beach with them. I can pray for them. And while I may not be the one who leads them to Christ, seeds may be planted. Seeds that may be watered by others at Helping Hands. Seeds that may one day may grow into a life with Christ and filled with Him. My mind was so focused on how I thought I needed to serve Christ that I was misses the opportunities sitting right in front of me. By the grace of God, I think I can see them a little more clearly now.

As we go into this week I am excited for what God will do. I know not what opportunities God will present me in the remainder of our time here. I only hope and pray that I will be attentive to His calling and His will. That I will not be too quick to overlooking even the smallest opportunity to share the love of Christ in word or in deed.

In Christ,

Josiah(Brosiah)

1 Corinthians 3:4-9


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Pray in any language you wish…

Hey Y’all. This is Hannah–not sure if this is going to show up on Tiffany’s account or not. Tech and I still are frenemies. 😉

It’s not usual for me to hesitate when asked to share about an experience–especially if it’s as amazing as one as traveling to another country! 😉 
Yet here I am, unsure of what exactly I’m going to say next.

I could tell you about the refugees: their community and family oriented culture; their love of strong, sweet hot tea; the way their kids run wild, lured in only by cookies or silly games. 

I could tell you about the first time I heard one of the little kids laugh. The sound was so full of absolute joy it caught me off guard and left me longing to hear more. Or the way they kids play a ridiculous version of Uno that demands all my someday-teacher skills and leave me speaking a weird mix of English and Farsi accent. 

I could tell you about my teammates–how awesome and ridiculous they are. 

     *How Josiah is always positive, even on the hard days–and how he keeps almost dying. (Coming soon: “Why Simply Walk Down the Stairs? 10 Reasons to Almost Break One’s Neck Instead” By Josiah)

     *How George has a super empathetic heart that constantly pushes us to recognize the humanity of each and every person–and how he keeps insisting on using Spanish even though we’re working with Greek or Middle Eastern people. (Why? No one knows…Also, ask him how he says “gluttony!”)

     *How Tiffany is the Team Leader Extraordinaire, staying organized and amazingly patient with our mess–and how we have a growing conviction of her klutziness. At the current rate, we’ll be down a team leader by Monday due to injuries from tripping, spilling, and general how-did-you-manage-that-exactly nonsense. (She also threw a box at April’s face. So there’s that.)

     *How April is bravely vulnerable about her struggles, and super fun to experience Greece with, since she’s so excited about all her “firsts”–and how she’s probably the *most* sane out of all of us…if that doesn’t scare you, you obviously don’t know her well! (Note: when I think of a really good roast for her, I’ll let ya know!) 😉

     *How I’m perfect. AND important. They’re #blessed to have me along! 

I could tell you (serious stuff, again) about the way I feel like culture shock or the pain of all the hard situations we’ve encountered hasn’t hit me yet. But that I feel like each new situation tears a little of the barrier I’ve put between my sore heart and the stuff no amount of training can prepare you for. How I’m terrified and eager for what will happen if that barrier is finally broken. My life might be irrevocably changed in ways it needs to be changed, but it will be broken, regardless.

I could tell you about today, about a simple mistake that caused a big, complicated hurt. Yes. I think this is what I really need to write…A well-meaning adult let a girl (8 years old?) named Maadia hold a baby while she watched. Somehow Maadia and all the careful adults nearby were distracted at the same, crucial moment, and the baby slipped from the chair to the hard tile floor. Even though the baby was soon consoled and fine (minus a scare and a sad looking bruise), the guilt of that simple action weighed heavy on Maadia, leaving her inconsolable despite the kind attempts of the staff interns. I looked in her face and I somehow knew why. She was crying about the baby being hurt, yes. But she was also crying about all the other moments in her young life where desperate situations demanded more responsibility of her than was right for her to carry. About how she’d failed many of those, exponentially so. The thing about guilt is it’s either resolved, or it accumulates: layer on top of try-to-forget-that-too layer. 

Maybe she was too slow in packing her things to flee her country, and was yelled at when she needed comfort. Many of the refugees have a horrible time crossing by boat to Greece. Maybe she was asked by a beyond frantic mother to comfort a younger sibling, who was hungry and so refused to be comforted. Maybe she feels alienated from her family (who, as far as I know, are still Muslim). Who knows. I don’t know her story, and it is more than likely I’m putting much of this on her. This I do know: that little girl has already experienced much, much pain. I could see it hiding–barely held back–in her eyes, recognized it from the times I’ve stared, dull eyed and emotionless, at the reflection of my own eyes. But a lot of people have experienced pain. Some more, some less; some similar to mine or Maadia’s, but many different. Suffering, it would seem, is endlessly creative. (Don’t believe it. Joy is endlessly more so–I promise.) And at a certain point, counseling and strong wills and community can only do so much. 

We’re still left alone with our guilt in the crucial moments when no one came to save us. 

I believe Christianity–more specifically, Jesus Christ–offers the only true relief of that pain that haunts our days. He can meet you where you are, smack dab in the middle of the point where you are physically or emotionally incapable of continuing. Of waking up one more day or holding out your heart one more time. That’s why you can come honestly. That’s why you can, as someone reminded me today, “Pray in any language you wish.” 

Farsi, English, Greek. … Pain, Joy, Guilt. 

Jesus speaks them all.

If that doesn’t give us hope, may we learn to pray fearlessly, until it does.

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin or your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Love y’all. 

Hannah


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An Original and Unforseen Greek Experience.

Although this is not my first missions trip, Greece is certainly an uncomparable culture or even phenonomon as there are thousands of people here and many are from different cultures inside this Greek atmosphere.  The history that I have seen is uncomparable and is amazing to see and think about how many of our common simple tools originate from the many artifacts that were discovered here.  I have not seen the Acropolis yet but it is a very majestic and powerful view from the city but I am excited to see it first hand.  The few days that we have spent here have been very interesting, we have volunteered at Helping Hands offering help and relief to refugees who are struggling, we have also seen the Acropolis Museum as well as swam in the Aegean Sea; all experiences that have to be lived instead of told for full justice.  Also the food here is amazing and freakishly cheap for its taste and even the gifts that I have bought from flea markets have been reasonably cheap.  It is very interesting how the people here that are trying to make their way through each day that is their lives are very assertive in roping in customers for business or promoting their name.  This has been my first time riding on a Metro or even a public bus and both are actually not too discomforting or strange but seem like a pleasant way to travel.  Aside from building a barrier between languages I think my biggest struggle is adapting to the other cultures and being respectful in the fact that a positive hand jesture in America is highly offensive in Muslim culture.  Although not everyone in Athens is Christian, there is much grace, love, and joy in these many cultures, however I will say that hope is still in need in everyone’s lives.

Each day that I am serving in Athens I believe that I subtlety discover a new or different reason that God has called me here and why he has used me to spread the glory of his kingdom.  Although the many people here are content and living their lives with what they basically need, I run into several people everyday who are begging for food, money, or transportation; people who have lost their way or it was taken from them.  I am unsure why but everyday when those are asking for money, they always run to me first and I rarely carry money on me or have anything to offer, and I feel terrible because I have to keep walking and leave them in the desolate place that they are stuck in.  Just the other day, we all were on our way back from the Ministry Center and we were passing through the Metro station to get on our line to Kifissia, on the escalator a little boy wearing dirty raggedy clothes came up to me begging for money.  The others told me to just ignore him because their was nothing that I could do to help but nothing in me could just walk away.  I told him that my pockets were empty and that I was sorry but he kept asking, then I remembered that I had a bag of peaches in my hand that I had gotten from the Ministry Center, and I gave him three to enjoy and to have food to eat.  I know that I did not change his day much but just seeing his face of turmoil turn to a sincere smile made mine; I did not give him what he wanted but I was able to help with his needs and that eased my conscience.  Above all of my experiences here, seeing so many struggle just to live in this city and strive to find the next meal for them or their loved ones, what hurts the most is not that I cannot give them what they want but that I have to walk away not being able to give them what they need and it breaks my heart every time and I would gladly trade places with them just to end their suffering.  My passion for this problem, this problem of poverty that is completely unnecessary was shared in my own childhood and I absolutely hate seeing people suffer in loss of value, position, health, home, love, identity, or sometimes the worst for me is a loss of purpose.  

I love that God has called me here, and I know that he knows my heart and that he gave me this passion to relate and feel compassion for others and it is a way that I can show Christ to others and let God’s light shine through me.  Their are over a hundred refugees that attend the Ministry Center who are looking for a way to find the life that they had or hopefully a life with Christ that they have never imagined they deserved.  I love the people that God has brought me to serve and my prayer is that God will continue to use me as a tool to change the lives of others, and what an honor it is to be a part of God’s plans.  In the many days to come, I am eager for the many experiences to come and the joys that I can share with others, although I am also hesitant of how the pain of others will hurt my heart even more.  If I could, I would do whatever I could to change their lives, but the best thing I can do is set an example of Christ and let others follow in helping each other.  That is my greatest fear that I realized while walking through the streets today talking to Josiah and that is that I am so afraid of setting a poor example of Christ and not allowing him glory or even worse robbing the chance for others to give him glory; sometimes helping truly does hurt and it is so very difficult.  My prayers go out to the hurting, the suffering, the lost, the afraid, and the many searching for answers not only in Athens but in the world that they would find Christ and be saved from the many tortures of this awful world but be transformed the love of the almighty father and that they would let go of pride and ask forgiveness of their sins.  A world without pain or sorrow is a world that I am anxious to share with everyone.  

Bless everyone that you encounter and pray that God also blesses them because if we are only focused on ourselves their is no greater way to waste our lives and desert the love of Christ.  To those who read this that are battling with their faith or have turned away, my advice to you is to find your way back to God and eventually put your trust in him; I have lived many years with no intention of having Christ in my life and they were the most desolate and traumatic times of my life and I now know that their is no greater purpose or happiness than serving the Lord and delighting in his many blessings that I do not deserve.  Don’t let this world discourage you because if you turn your eyes away from Christ, you are exactly where the Devil wants you.  There is no evil in this world so great, that God isn’t Greater.

 “Therefore, I urge you , brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”    

                                                                                                                                                                                                          —     Romans 12:1-2
                                                                                                         –GEORGE JACKSON–