Our team woke up this morning to devotionals over breakfast, focusing on the power of prayer and the importance of it being a constant conversation with God throughout our day.
We then were introduced to the Encompass team, John and Ashley, and received an immersion in different cultures and what living on mission is all about. Some staggering statistics were provided, such as within a 10-15 mile radius in Atlanta, you can hear over 200 languages. Encompass defined missions as living going to those who are different (culture, ethnically, socially, economically) by sharing the gospel with compassion and the love of Jesus Christ. Our team is eager to encounter the different cultures we will be visiting throughout the week. We are living in the anywhere to everywhere mission era, and our team is excited to be here!
Students and leaders alike were able to personally experience different cultures this morning on a trip to the Buford Highway International Market. The Encompass team challenged everyone to try something new, something crazy and be creative, and the team was eager to participate! There were aisles and aisles of food and each aisle was based on a different place in the world. Students were allowed to purchase something new, and were encouraged to step out of our comfort zone of rural Wayne County and what its cuisine entails. We then met in the cafeteria and were provided with an abundance of culinary options to expand our horizons and scratch the surface of what it means to work cross-culturally.
During team time before heading out to our partner churches, you could feel the anticipation of serving in the name of the Lord. Allowing God to stretch our lives is a prominent theme on this trip, and each and every one of our students is ready and willing to see God change not only their lives, but the lives they come into contact this week as well.
Our team started our vacation bible schools at a Hispanic and Haitian church. Rachel led the Haitian team, with fellow adult leaders Matt, Ben and Taylor. Student leaders Noah, Trent Kline, Jordan, Ally and Olivia Bernadine collaborated with students Luke S., Luke F., Kirsten, Sidney, Luke M., Gabby, Talia, Daylea, Olivia H., Bri, Will and Trent M. to make vacation bible school a success. As far as the Haitian church goes, God was clearly at work in not only our team, but the kids we encountered and the church itself. I have never understood “Saved people serve people” in such a way. Not only did the Haitian church welcome us with open arms and hearts, but they also prepared a meal for our team, just a hint into the communal aspect of the Haitian culture. All the children in attendance were engaged and our students are now praying over the list of the names we have met and those we have yet to meet.
The Hispanic church was led by Juli, with fellow adult leaders Brandon, Charline and Jill. Student leaders Lauren, Sonja and Tyler helped lead the way for their students, Kenedy, Cory, Braden S., Tim, Kassi, Braden Y., Allison, Trent B., Mitchell, Olivia C., Adam, Ben P., and Emily. Vacation bible school was held outside, with participants actually living on the premises which VBS was hosted. Approximately 30 kids were in attendance, ranging from ages 2-15, all engaging with our team and the activities we had to offer. Upon arrival at the church, Brandon Horner saw a group of boys were playing soccer and encouraged our boys to participate. The group hung out with our team for the entire three hours with our team.
Both VBS teams had children sad at their departure and eager for their return.
Upon returning home, teams talked about working as the body of Christ, because “we are better together.” A point Rachel drove home was that God didn’t give us gifts for ourselves. He gave us gifts so we could serve Him.
Our team is excited for the rest of God’s plans for us this week. Please pray for our ministry to be able to reach as many people as possible, all for the kingdom of Heaven.
Guest post by: Olivia B.