Saturday, October 06, 2007

Day 1 & 2: Reading, UK

Our first few days in England were spent mostly visiting people with whom we had developed friendships during our 2003 short term missions trip to the UK. Back in 2003, we had spent a month living with many of the folks in Reading. Not only did we all grow as a result, we developed friendships with many of the youth and their families.

For this reason, we have tended to stop by the UK whenever we can whilst visiting Europe. We visited briefly in 2004, and were excited to be visiting again this year. We have found that these visits end up benefiting all and is a testament of the greater work at play in the Kingdom.

From a missionary's perspective, keeping up these relationships enables us to better minister and better pray for those we are helping. For the local church in Reading (our particular 'mission field'), meeting people who pray for them and support them face to face gives encouragement. For all, it is always an eye-opener to experience different culture: to see how culture affects the manner in which we relate to and worship God; but at the same time how we all can worship God in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

For me personally, it is most encouraging (and humbling!) to see so many we had once helped grow to be strong young men and women who are fervent in their walk with Jesus. (More correctly, it has been a testament to God's faithfulness in their lives.)

Case in point #1: being able to meet-up once again with Raymond (youth at the centre of the picture in sunglasses) was really encouraging. Back at youth camp in 2003, I had the opportunity to talk with someone about a relationship with Christ. Little did I know that God was using this opportunity to touch the heart of someone nearby. Raymond was listening intently in the background as I talked to this other person and he made a decision for Christ. When we visited in 2004, he was already off to university. Can you imagine how affirming to my faith it was to see him still engaged in his relationship with Christ in 2007?

Case in point #2: back in 2003, in addition to running a youth camp, we also helped organise a week long kid's "vacation bible school" for younger kids. This visit, I had an opportunity to visit with and speak to the youth group. Can you imagine the excitement it was to see many of those kids are now in youth group worshiping God? (Compare the kids in this 2003 photo with the youth in the front few rows of the top picture) It is amazing to see them now having grown so much both physically and spiritually, and I am in awe once again of God's faithfulness to His people.

Rekindling friendships and seeing how God has been working in each of our lives was a recurring theme of our time in England. Many youth and their parents also met Erich for the first time. As new parents, Karen and I found ourselves relating to the parents of the youth in a whole new way. Scary when that happens isn't it? :) Well as it turns out, gaining new perspective on life as a new parent is what I talked about with the youth.

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