T minus 14 days

**This is an interactive blog post**

Open up Google maps on your browser, and type in “Sobhan, Cambodia”.

Can’t find it? That’s because Sobhan isn’t on Google maps. Or pretty much any map you can find.

But it’s a real place! With real people!

Real kids who take the bus to school.

Real parents who grow vegetables.

Real cows who do cow-y things.

And soon, a real Anna doing farming and ministry.

Yes, I am moving to Sobhan for the next 6 months!

There’s an NGO there called Jumpah Ministries, run by a couple of missionaries and a handful of locals. This little organization  is reaching some pretty significant goals, educating children, providing job training, and supporting families affected by HIV. Among other things, here are some of Jumpah’s activities:

  • Providing a home and an education for orphans/unwanted children
  • Teaching local children in a cost-subsidized school
  • Training locals in woodworking and employing many in a woodshop
  • Demonstrating sustainable farming techniques on a farm that also employs many locals

Here’s some links to more info:

https://www.facebook.com/adventurecambodia/timeline

http://ratzloffcambodia.blogspot.com/p/overview-of-jumpah.html

I’ll be primarily working on the farm, helping with organization, research, and everyday farm tasks. I’ve also been asked to lead some Bible study-like times for the staff to practice English. Cambodia is 96% Buddhist, so many of the staff are not Christian, but they are eager to practice English and learn about the Bible, so we’ll be putting those together. I may get to do a little teaching as well, although details will be ironed out once I get there.

I’m excited but I’m also really nervous. This is a new experience, and it’s impossible to know everything to expect. I would so appreciate your prayers as I get ready to leave- pray that I wouldn’t just prepare physically but that spiritually and mentally I will be prepared as well. Pray for trust in God with the unknowns.

 

 

 

 

The question everyone’s asking…

The question everyone’s asking…

“What are you doing next year?”

Sometimes all the options for next year make me feel like I'm getting attacked by a bunch of crazy geese...(pic from the book Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh)

Sometimes all the options for next year make me feel like I’m getting attacked by a bunch of crazy geese…(pic from the book Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh)

First, a little perspective.

God’s been teaching me a LOT over the last month, through a variety of people, circumstances, and Scriptures. He’s been humbling me and giving me a different way to look at life. Some of my findings:

Life is short and unpredictable. Things change. People change. Sin and brokenness are throughout the earth. We live in a messed up world. I’ve felt this deeply in the past few weeks as one of my closest friends lost her baby. Elijah was born two months premature and lived twenty minutes. I’ve been convicted to use every day, every moment to glorify God- every opportunity, because we don’t have much time here and it could be over any minute. But the short time we are here can make an eternal impact. Elijah’s life and death has brought so many people closer to God. He’s reminded us to cling to the one who never changes. There is something more than just this world of brokenness. That’s a hope that I want to share with as many people as possible.

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Then there’s the fact that nearly 3 billion people on our planet haven’t had a chance to hear about this hope. 41.8% of the world’s people groups are unreached. That meansthere is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group. And we are called to reach these people.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-19

You don’t necessarily have to go directly to these places to have a part in the Great Commission. Maybe you’re a sender, preparing people and getting them excited about sharing the Gospel. Maybe you are a prayer warrior, praying for the nations. Maybe you’re crossing cultures in your own city. But we are all called to be a part of this mission.

But along with that, I’m  learning that God’s plan doesn’t NEED me. The whole world will hear the gospel eventually  regardless of whether I obey or not.  Nothing can mess up His perfect plan.  He tells us that directly:

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isaiah 46:10

Talk about humbling. He doesn’t need me, but He wants to use me anyway.  I want to be a part of His plan, whether He asks me to stay in the States or go to the nations.

These are things I know. There’s a lot I don’t know, but I think that’s okay.

So back to the original question.

At the moment, there seems to be an open door for me to work with Cru in South Africa for a year! Yep, I’m going on STINT (short term international missions with Cru)!

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You may already know that South Africa has been on my heart for a long time. I spent two summers with other Cru students helping launch movements on multiple campuses in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, and you can read about my experience in earlier blog posts from 2011 and 2012.   Our region has a partnership with Campus Crusade for Christ, South Africa (CCCSA). In 2010, Cru sent a small team of students and staff to Port Elizabeth, where they started a CCCSA student ministry movement on one campus of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

This photo  was taken the second summer I was in Port Elizabeth. Khaya (center) interned with CCCSA the following year, and Tyler (left) is currently working with CCCSA at NMMU!

This photo was taken the second summer I was in Port Elizabeth. Khaya (center) interned with CCCSA the following year, and Tyler (left) is currently working with CCCSA at NMMU!

 

Four years later, CCCSA is on two campuses in Port Elizabeth and just starting on three others.  We have committed to sending a small team of interns each year to support these movements and train up student leaders until national staff can take over leadership and training. We’ve seen a lot of progress towards this goal- last year a South African interned alongside the American staff team!

South Africa is a particularly strategic country to reach as it holds significant influence over sub-Saharan Africa. While it has modern infrastructure, there are many “third-world” realities in this nation. Racial tensions are nearly as high as they were in the days of apartheid, the political sphere is extremely corrupt and unstable, and the income gap between the rich and the poor is huge. AIDS has crippled the country’s development, and violent crime rates are rising rapidly. It is a broken nation with broken people, and only Christ can heal the deep wounds this nation has experienced.

The Missionvale campus of NMMU, surrounded by slums.

The Missionvale campus of NMMU, surrounded by slums.

But tomorrow’s leaders are today’s college students! I am so excited to move to South Africa in January and come alongside student leaders in their efforts to reach students with the gospel. This university hosts many international students from all over the world who have the potential to take the gospel back home to their communities, some of which are unreached.

The only barrier we are facing at the moment is that our team needs TWO more men to be able to go. Will you join me in praying for the Lord to provide? This is something that Jesus directly asks us to pray for:


“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

May the Lord’s will be done, whether our team is able to go or not!

 

Read more about unreached people groups here: http://joshuaproject.net
Read more about STINT with Cru here: http://www.wearesent.com/vision.html

Read about the current ministry in South Africa here: http://www.wearesent.com/africa.html

And so it begins…

HAPPY WELCOME WEEK!!!!

Thousands of new students are moving into the dorms this weekend, and we’ve spent the last week planning events and outreaches to build relationships with them. Welcome Week can be hell for freshmen, transfers, and international students (away from home, no friends, language barriers, weird roommates, peer pressure, rednecks) but it’s also the week when they start checking out campus organizations.

Surveys have shown that they tend to stick with whatever group interests them the most in the first six weeks. So we try to be OH SO INTERESTING. Glow-in-the dark capture the flag, free pizza, sports days, free water bottles, sardines in the Death Star (yes that is a building), free dessert, bowling in the student union, free pizza. Yes, college students like free things, in case you haven’t noticed. So guess who’s helping?

servant team

Hi Freshmen, Transfers, and International Students!!! Wanna be my friend??

This is our FANTASTIC servant team. The past two days has been planning time 9am-3pm, and I am so impressed. These students are totally throwing themselves into ministry despite their fears and have come up with some awesome ideas. We prayed often, practiced conflict resolution, studied the Bible, and discussed how important it is to reach freshmen in particular. We spent some time reflecting on the “armor of God” in Ephesians 6 and saw that the only way we will make an impact is if we are trusting God, grounding ourselves in truth, and relying on the Holy Spirit for strength. I have a feeling that this team of student leaders is going to be more effective than any I have seen in Davis in the last four years.

welcome week flyer

Just a few of our events this weeek…

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We also packed 2500 water bottles with flyers to pass out…the annual PACKING PARTY!!!

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I’ve also gotten to do some international student ministry this week…Cru had a table at the International Student Fair this week, and my roommate Jane is helping out with her church. She had her first year as an international student four years ago, so God is really putting these students on her heart.

Resource Fair!

Resource Fair!

Last picture, I promise. This is Jaden, our staff directors’ son. I got lots of cuddle time this week and he was so good during our long meetings. It’s so fun watching him learn to talk in sentences!

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He sees the picture and cries “It’s Jaden!!!”

How much do you have to hate someone…

Yes, I’ve been silent for longer than normal. Life got a little crazy last week as I was trying to reach my September 1st financial support deadline as well as move from one apartment to another. Moving? Success (at 2am). Support deadline? Didn’t make it. But I got an extension of 6 days PRAISE THE LORD! Check out the “partner with me” tab at the top of the blog if you’re interested in hearing more about how you can financially support me.

Ok enough explaining and shameless plugging.

Question of the day. How much do you have to hate someone to not share with them the Good News of the only Hope that won’t fail in the world?

Yes, hate is a strong word, but I think it is appropriate in this situation. Listen to this clip by Penn Jillet, and you’ll understand where this question comes from. 2 things you should know before you watch.

1) Penn Jillet performs Penn&Teller shows. He is an outspoken illusionist, comedian, and performer who articulately advocates for atheism. His beliefs are here: http://thisibelieve.org/essay/34/

2) Proselytizing is converting someone to your own faith or religion.

“If you believe that there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell…and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and NOT tell them that?”

While there are some things in this video I don’t agree with, such as the description of the man’s actions as proselytizing (I think he was trying to introduce him to the person of Jesus rather than religion), I was really struck by his reasoning and his respect for those who share what they believe is most vital in life. How many times are we too afraid to share our beliefs because we don’t want to be disrespected?

Rom 10:14-15 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

I think his description of the guy who gave him the Bible gives some good clues to how we can share the Gospel effectively. First, he says over and over how “sane” the guy was. He was a business man who could appreciate a secular comedy show. How can we expect to reach the world if we hide from it? In the college world, this is things like spending time with classmates, going to their parties, being the designated driver, finding things in common.

Then he talks about how the man wasn’t defensive but was polite and kind. This doesn’t mean spiritual discussions and debates aren’t wrong, but what people notice is HOW we approach them. Penn could tell the man truly cared about him. In an essay, he wrote about previous experiences:

” I don’t travel in circles where people say, “I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.” That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, “shut up,” or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, “How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do.”

Just some stuff to chew on. What are your interactions with nonChristians like? Do you even have any, or are you hiding from the secular world? Are you showing your friends the greatest love by sharing your source of hope and life? Or are you showing a greater love for your personal validation and reputation as you try to keep faith out of the picture?