So the Philippines! I'll save you the details or else we'll all be grey and bored to tears by the end of it. The first few days were your typical vacation, r&r kind of days. The Philippines boasts an impressive show for tourists - clear, turquoise waters and white sand beaches. A tropical paradise that quickly transitions to slums, rickety tricycles, and foul smells as soon as you step away from the tourist scene. It's within those slums and the authentic culture of the Philippines that God hit me with revelation after revelation, and since these were my big take aways I'll take this entry from that angle.
Revelation One: Evangelism isn't scary. In ministry, I've always been one to lean more on the deed end of things than the word (surprising I know since I can babble). I've always believed in a relational approach to sharing the Gospel. Through meeting the physical and relational needs of an individual, God will open a door to meet the spiritual need in time. I still agree with this approach on a broader basis, but I realized taking a "one approach only" mentality was a close-minded way of going about things. For a few days, I was blessed to stay with the Bautistas, two national missionaries who lead YWAM Bohol with a focus in mercy ministry. In our initial correspondence, I asked whether there was any way I could prepare for serving with them - but I was given little information and concluded that I would jump in with an open-mind and flexibility. So the first night that I arrive, Ate Nene ("Ate" is a term of respect, addressed to someone like an older sister), sat me down and ran over what we'd be doing. First item on the agenda - evangelizing in the park. Immediately, the image of someone standing on a podium shouting to a crowd that they need Jesus or be eternally damned popped into my mind, and my thoughts began to scheme of any way I might be able to get out of this terrifying situation. By the end of the day, I realized just how silly this immense fear had been. Evangelism really should be called "Talking to People," because really it's as simple as that. Ate Nene would sit next to a girl and watch her kids play with the pigeons, and before you knew it she had struck up a casual conversation. She would invite me over to talk with them, and when introducing her family and life - the Lord would come up, because of course - He is at the center of her life. BOOM, first person we talk to asks if she could visit our church, which led to Ate sharing the Gospel, which led to me praying over her. It was totally natural and I realized that evangelism is nothing but intentionally talking to people. It's not about going out hunting or making an uproar or condemning others, it's simply planting the seed and trusting that God will lead the rest. We talk and talk about being disciples of Christ within the confines of our homes and small groups, but when do we actually go OUT to BE disciples? If we're not spreading the Gospel, then what are we doing?
Like I said in the beginning, there's still a lot of things I'm working through - how to go about ministry to those materially poor, how to love those who do not realize they are poor, how best to do overseas missions, and where the Lord wants to use me. Sometimes I get lost in my thoughts. Okay, maybe more than just "sometimes." I suppose that's the most wonderful part of life though - that in walking each day with the Lord there never fails to be new revelation and growth in understanding, not only of this world but of the character of God. The key is not to give up. Not to feel like there will ever be a time that you will "get it" all. Not to stop exploring and seeking and thirsting for more. Through this holy pursuit - the Lord will guide us on a journey that is better than we could imagine.