Our last few days in Sunderland have brought great fun and incredible ministry opportunities! The SCC unit were able to grow relationships and had opportunities to share the gospel through camp of champions. Children were not only hearing the gospel themselves, but were taking what they had learnt home as well. The New Springs unit continued to partner with I:GNITE (SP Project) and Crossfya in local high schools as well as run a sports camp in a local elementary school. Though there was some opposition, God was working through conversations and discussions. There were other ministry opportunities, leading a special needs service, helping with moms and tots and picking up trash in the neighborhood around the church. Both units were able to come together for a USA vs UK night of fun and games with local families and fish and chips on Roker Beach. We ended the week praying over Sunderland, the city that has captured our hearts and a free day exploring and shopping in York. Though we are eager to return home, we are so thankful for the ministry and relationships God has allowed us to have in our time here. Our prayer as we leave is that God would work in amazing ways in the city and give the hope of Jesus to people who desperately need it!
On Wednesday, part of the New Springs team went to a primary school near the church called Redby Academy. We played games outside with the kids and had small 10 minute lessons on hope, faith and love. It was incredible to feel their energy and see them open up with us. One of the things that struck me was when I was talking with my group of kids about how right now the Americans are on summer holiday, one girl asked “Why did you come to Sunderland?” It was very strange to them that of all the cool places in the United States we could go on holiday we decided to come to their city. We used that opportunity to share how much we loved and valued them, and how God loves them too. I think even the fact that we came to visit and play meant a lot to the kids, and it was an opportunity to show the love of God. It was so encouraging to see the wonderful relationship New Springs has with Redby and I pray that it will continue to grow!
It’s so hard to believe that today is our last full day in Sunderland. It feels like we should be here at least another week—or maybe another month. I’ve fallen in love with this place, with its people. Maybe it’s because of how actively I see God working here; it’s like I’m watching dry bones come alive. It’s so, so clear that this week is only a small part of the story for Sunderland. God has been working here for a long time through the persistent faith of a few passionate people, knocking down mountains and opening doors—some of which we get to be the ones to walk through during the short time we’re here. It’s also excitingly, abundantly clear that the work in Sunderland will be continuing and active a long time after we leave, and there’s something both humbling and incredibly hope-filled about that. I’m so excited about what God is doing here, and it makes me wonder if the work back home could ever look like this…or if maybe I just hadn’t had the eyes to see it there before.
It’s crazy how fast this week has gone and how amazing it’s been. This week I was able to spend 2 days helping with a program called I:gnite that went into schools to preform music and share a message of hope with the kids. Groups of kids would come into their schools auditorium and a band called Crossfya would perform music and then we broke the kids into smaller groups and had lessons where we got to speak with them about Respect, Influence and self worth. We were able to have good discussions with many of the kids and I believe God was doing work to plant seeds in their hearts and give them hope and also to draw them to Himself. It was an amazing opportunity to interact with the kids and share with them that we were Christians, I’m so grateful and pray that the seeds God planted would grow.
While sitting down for breakfast one morning, I was talking with one of my host parent’s, Audrey. She was telling my roommates and I how God had worked in her life when she said that “the greatest adventure you could have in life is to trust God.” This phrase almost startled me. I definitely would say I’m the ‘adventurous’ type, but never had I even considered that a life pursuing God could be an ‘adventure.’ As the week continued, this idea was only solidified as I heard story after story of the way God worked to start churches and ministries by people who simply felt called to go. Unsure of their future, these people uprooted their lives to live in Sunderland and spread the message of hope through Christ. God’s plans for us are so much greater than we can imagine and he can use us in so many more ways than we can imagine. All we have to do is trust God. And he will always provide for us. So what am I waiting for? I’m ready for the greatest adventure of my life.
This week has been one of the best weeks of my entire life. I’ve been on missions trips before, but it seems like all the previous missions trips have led up to this one. This past year I was a student leader for a 7th grade student group, and I think that experience REALLY helped with Camp of Champions. My favorite part of this week was getting to know all of the kids in the different schools, and just spend time with them and get to learn who they are. There aren’t many opportunities for me to go into a school in the states and be able to spend time and have fun with kids from entirely different ages. I’m just really glad I got to know the kids and to hang out and play and speak to them about Jesus and just tell them that God loves them. This trip has been so amazing and I’m so thankful for everything we got to do. Eric, Drew, and all the other leaders were so great with the timing of our schedule and just letting us know what we should expect each day and just leading us because that’s really hard in a foreign country. If I could let everyone reading this blog know one thing, it’s that living a godly life means doing it 24/7. There are no days off. But, the great thing is that God rewards this life. It’s so amazing getting to see how God works in your life as well as the people around you and it’s just incredible to get to see the impact that you have on other peoples lives through Jesus Christ. And that is amazing.