I have been reading the book “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris, and i recently have been challenged by stepping out of my comfort zone. One thing they highlight is that if you don’t step out of it, you will miss out the best memories and times of your life. Through my personal experiences, I have witnessed this and I can tell you that it is one hundred percent true!
In 2008, my youth pastor, Joel Mosier, challenged me to go on a missions trip in New York City to help out a newly planted church by Pastor Tim Richmond. I told him that it sounded cool, but in my mind i was saying “No way, missions trips aren’t for me” and i thought it would be extremely boring. He would often remind me about meetings and things of that sort, and my parents would often encourage me to go to them. I didn’t want to, but I did. Before I knew it I was signed up. I was kind of angry, and I did not want to go. I kept trying to get out of meetings and anyway I could, I wanted to stay home that week. The week came and i was on my way. I kept thinking this trip is going to be dumb and no fun, but the week turned out being awesome! I never wanted the week to end, I was having a blast and I was seeing God at work like never before. My best memories were made, and I made awesome new friends. (Sound Familiar?) :)
A few months later, Pastor Mosier came to me again and said that there would be another Missions trip to Arizona in the Summer of 09, a year later. I was still longing to be back in New York because I had such a great time, and I thought “Arizona, what’s out there? Isnt that the desert? It probably wont be as good as New York, But I guess I will go.” Then Pastor Mosier told us what we would be doing, leading a Vacation Bible School. We would be teaching classes every night. It was totally different then what we did in New York City, and again I didn’t really want to go. However, I stepped out of my comfort zone and I went. Through leading the VBS i became really close with the kids that I taught. I became close with the other team members, and I had another great week of experiencing God work. I didn’t want to leave and when we left i was extremely sad, and i wanted to go back really bad. (Sound Familiar?) :)
Then, shortly thereafter it was announced that for my last Youth Group missions trip, it would be in the Philippines. I never thought anything could be as awesome as Arizona or New York, but knowing what i experienced on those two trips I stepped out of my comfort zone once again, and i signed up. I had no idea when i signed up that I would have the best two weeks of my life! I was really nervous to travel internationally, and the thought of being in a different country so far away scared me. I found out that i was going to be preaching to classrooms of student all day, every day that i didnt even know. That made me really nervous. I got there and i had a great time! I will never forget those two weeks. Thousands of kids got saved, and I saw God at work even more than ever before in my life! I had the best memories of my life. I made life long friends on the team from completely different countries! It was a great experience! (Sound Familiar?) Your right it does, that’s exactly what Alex and Brett are trying to tell us! Step out of your comfort zone, and you WILL have the best times of your life!
I need to post more! Just been so busy!!
Set my heart, O dear Father, On Thee, and Thee only,Give me a thirst for Thy presence divine. Lord, keep my focus on loving Thee wholly,Purge me from earth; Turn my heart after Thine. A passion for Thee; O Lord, set a fire in my soul, and a thirst for my God. Hear Thou my prayer, Lord, Thy power impart.Not just to serve, but to love Thee with all of my heart.
These are the lyrics to the song A Passion for Thee. This was one of the songs that we sang on the last Sunday in the Philippines during the worship service. I believe that this was God’s stamp on the end of my two weeks, because the main thing that I learned during the two weeks I was there was having more passion for Christ. I went into this missions trip thinking that I was here to minister to the people of the Philippines, and that I was going to teach them how to be better Christians. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as I stepped into the Student Movement for Christ Center in Dumaguete, I saw that the Filipinos were extremely nice and they welcomed all of us visitors as soon as we walked in. They have a passion for welcoming and accepting visitors. That made me think that i need to have more passion when I see visitors in my church, instead of hanging out with my friends and staying in my little group, I need to reach out and welcome the new people. If no one is willing to step out of their comfort zone and welcome those visitors, they will probably think that this church is unfriendly, and they might not come back. That is one thing that I want to work on, and the Filipinos showed a great example of that to me.
Another are that I saw passion was in prayer. We held a prayer meeting early in the week, and the passion is there voices as they were praying out to our God was filled with emotion, and I feel that emotion is lacking in my prayer life. I realized that I need to pray with more passion, and I will see God do more awesome things in my life. On Tuesday when we started doing room to room preaching, I thought that I was going to do really well and get a lot of people saved. In the first class that I did I realized that I was not ready, and that I was not getting the message across to these students clearly. I kept relying on my strength to preach. I couldn’t figure out why so many other team members were telling stories of many kids getting saved, and I couldn’t say the same thing. That night I remembered Don’s devotional the night before that talked about giving glory to God and not to ourselves. I was trying to give the glory to myself and I wasn’t giving it to God. So I just prayed, and tried to apply the same passion that I saw in the Filipinos. I just gave everything to God and I just let Him take control over the situation. The rest of the week I was seeing kids getting saved, I realized that it was all God and not me. I could tell that there was prayer behind me the rest of the week. There were hundreds of people all over praying for us, and I realized how powerful prayer can be if it is filled with passion.
The last area that I want to highlight is having passion when worshiping God. The first night that we arrived, we had a Truth Seekers meeting. The worship service was awesome. The amount of passion that was filled in everyone’s voices was unbelievable. The room was electrifying, and I had felt a feeling I have never felt before. It was like the presence of God was in that room. No one cared how they sounded, they didn’t care how they sang. They just cared about praising God with as much heart and passion as they had. I feel like I get so apathetic when praising God, and I realized that night that I need to praise God with that same amount of passion. God is the only reason that we even have a life, and that we have the choice to accept his eternal gift. Without God we would have no way into heaven. He has given so much, and often times we don’t worship him with our whole heart. I want to have passion when I worship God, and not become so apathetic.
When we sang “A Passion for Thee” on that Sunday morning I felt an even more presence of God than before. It was an amazing feeling that I will never forget. Everyone was singing with passion, and it couldn’t have closed the week off a better way.