"To be little with God is to be little for God." - E.M. Bounds
During this trip the Lord was really impressing on my heart to focus more on spending quality time with Him and interceding for the broken and the lost. We must spend more time with Him if we wish to do great things for Him.
As we spent more time working and praying together I felt that the rest of the team had the same burden as well. Even if it was only to close my eyes, take a breath, and remove myself from distractions for a moment to praise my Savior and thank Him for loving me then it was time well spent. You never know how a whispered prayer has the power to transform your day.
As we continued to prepare for the last part of the trip, this was my prayer...
Lord, May we all have a burden to pray, mourn, and fast for our people who are in captivity. Spiritual bondage is the most miserable. May my heart be full of Christ's compassionate love. May our prayers be filled with an anguish for the lost and spiritually dead.
In preparation for Bongdong English Camp we felt more limitations than at Taein Camp. We felt a few obstacles when it came to presenting the Gospel to the children but we were able to take advantage of every opportunity we had to share Christ to the children of atheists, Buddhists, and more.
A popular saying in South Korea is, "If it happens it happens." so we learned that no matter how detailed of a schedule we had mapped out as long as the main event occurred then it was OK. This took some getting used to but we just went along with the flow.
Since we never knew if our Bible hour would be shortened or cut out completely several of us took the time to tell Bible stories during our English classes, encourage discussion on Biblical topics, or just take the time to tell them of Jesus. One day in Morgan's class he took an hour to talk about the Flood, the result of sin, and salvation. Towards the end he had been challenged by an atheist boy but took the time to kneel down and speak to him one on one. By the time he finished one or two boys had tears in their eyes.
Ruth and I spent a few classes going over the Bible Story from the day before to our PreK-Kindergarten Class. Many times we felt the language barrier so strong and it seemed as if we could make no progress with English or the Gospel but we continued to smile, teach, and laugh with the children. We knew that God was still able to work in their hearts and pray that He continues to do so.
Lord, may our simple teaching style be enough to bring a searching soul to You!
We had up to 40-50 children every day during the Bongdong Camp so it was always bursting with energy (and sometimes chaos!) when they were all together. One of my favorite parts was teaching the songs to the kids. We taught them how to say the words, what they meant, and why we praise the Lord.
We sang the songs, Building up the Temple, Father Abraham, He Made the Whole World in His Hands, Hallelujah-Praise Ye the Lord, and my all-time favorite Making Melodies in my Heart! It didn't matter how silly I felt doing the crazy action songs, I knew that they needed to understand that we were willing to get to their level and lay aside our pride in order to reach out to them.
Our mission doesn't end in South Korea but continues when we go home. The following verse was the text of one of the devotions I shared with the group and it continues to remind me where our help and strength comes from...
Through God we shall do valiantly.
We ought not to focus so much on what we are able to do but on how we are able to do it. "Through God..."
Yet, not only are we able to accomplish tasks through God but we are promised it will be done valiantly! Now, THAT is awesome!
Thanks for taking the time to read about our experiences. Feel free to leave thoughts or comments. You can also check out blogs from our previous trips here...
"For our God is a consuming fire..." (Hebrews 12:29)
This thought was foremost in my mind as we made final preparations for our trip. To be honest, I have to admit that I was not mentally or spiritually prepared for this trip as the months turned into weeks. Life was busy and my concentration was into trying to make sure my lessons were put together for the English camps. Then, the Sunday before we left our pastor preached a powerful message from this text. My heart was set on fire. I was finally ready. My spirit was burning with the passion I knew I would need for this trip.
My worries and fears were burned up and I was trusting in the Lord to do whatever He desired to do... IN us and THROUGH us. The following was the prayer I wrote in my journal:
Lord, May your Spirit be welcomed wherever we dwell and transform hearts, including our own. May my mouth be ready to sing your praises, speak of Your goodness, and glorify Your name. Thank you for counting me worthY to do Your work.
The journey took about 2 - 2 & 1/2 days. Once we arrived, we were able to do some site-seeing in Seoul before meeting up with the last of our group at the airport. Then began our 3 hour bus ride to the church. I fell fast asleep until I was awakened by Morgan, who asked me if my phone was going off. Me? My phone doesn't even have service! But, I checked it anyway and sure enough it was a random alarm. It had been going off for about 10 minutes and no one knew whose it was. The entire bus, full of Koreans, was beginning to get angry because apparently it had awakened everyone but me, it was annoyingly loud, and it was 1 am! Big oops!
We finally arrived around 2 am (Saturday - July 30), slept a few hours, then began to make preparations for the camp in Taein the following week.
The camp in Taein seemed to be disappointment at first, then a series of miraculous events. In Korea, we come to the conclusion that when a schedule is set you must be prepared for anything and everything to change it around.
One of my favorite things about this trip was the daily devotions we had as a group in the morning and the spontaneous prayer meetings we had a few evenings. Even if we had to meet at 6:30 or 8 am, we determined to have this time of devotion, prayer, and exhortation. Many times, if not every time, they lasted at least an hour. We felt the Lord's presence numerous times and received the strength that was needed for that day.
Before the Taein Camp even began we were praying for 2 people in particular that Morgan was desperately hoping would be able to come. One was Darius, a young boy around 8 years old, who had captured the hearts of the group (especially Morgan's) the previous year. The other was Grace, a girl of about 13 years, who was visibly depressed and rarely smiled. They had a burden to see her set free from whatever was oppressing her. As Monday drew closer, Darius and Grace were names that were consistently mentioned in our prayers and they were the first ones to enter the door on Monday!!! Hallelujah!
Due to circumstances beyond our control we only had 6-9 children that faithfully participated in the first camp, but we were determined to continue the camp as if there were 30 or so in attendance. We prayed just as hard, sang just as loud, and played just as long as if it was a camp overflowing with children. We felt such a burden for these children and their country. There is such a spiritual oppression. It's hard to describe in so few words but it does exist.
What I loved about Taein Camp is that we visibly saw a difference in the children, including Grace, from when they first came until the last altar call. There were times that all we did was play water games (it was SOOOOOO hot!) and have a fun time with them. These children spend all of their time in school, on their phones, or doing homework that they don't get much of a fun childhood like many of us have had. So we were unashamed to spend 2-3 hours chasing them around with water balloons or a water hose, then spending an hour telling them about a God that loves them, a concept most of them could hardly comprehend. We may never know the impact of the small work we accomplished in Taein the first week, but we believe the Lord will continue to allow the seed to take root in the hearts of these precious children.
(...to be continued)
South Korea. I never dreamed that I would have the privilege of travelling there for a mission trip. Now, here I am flying home from one of the best trips I've ever taken, with many new fond memories. God is so good! One of my favorite attributes of God is He can make what's worthless into something priceless, He can take what's old and make it brand new, He can take what's useless and make it useful and He can take the worst of situations and work out His perfect will.
Through this trip, God has reminded me over and over that I'm not extra special because I'm a preacher's kid but it's only by His grace that I've had such opportunities. I'm no better than the most wretched sinner without God's grace. Because of that very thought, I've had great hope and confidence in what God would do in the lives of people who know nothing about Jesus' gospel.
Now with all that being said , let me tell you what God has done just in the past two weeks. When we first left the states to travel to South Korea, I was very anxious and somewhat nervous. I was very unfamiliar with the culture, I was really skeptical about the food, and I'd never taught English -let alone in non-English speaking country. I felt so incapable and just knew I would fail in one way or another and I didn't want to let the team down. I hoped and prayed that the feeling would go away by the time we arrived but it didn't. The feeling seemed like it would never go away but, one morning in group devotions, there was a message in tongues. I don't remember the entire interpretation but I do remember this. God said,"I will empower EACH of you..." When I heard that, a rush of peace flowed over me and I began to praise God. He let me know that I wasn't excluded and that He would give me the strength to accomplish the tasks that seemed impossible.
We were able to host two English day camps with a VBS in the last hour of each day. It was a lot of work but the team pulled together and worked in unity. We all had an equal vision, not so much that we teach the children perfect grammar and pronunciation but that they would hear the Gospel and would come to know Jesus. At times it was a literal battle against the enemies of darkness. When that happened we would call on Jesus to fight for us and He always came through. He is so faithful! Many, many children and adults were affected by what was taught. I know that God will continue to work on each heart even while we're gone!
I thought I went to South Korea to teach but I'm completely convinced that God used this trip to teach me as well. He taught me that I'm not the only person in the world, that He loves us all equally, that He doesn't always choose the most "qualified" person, that hard work and sacrifice is worth it for just one soul to find Christ, that His will always prevails, and SO much more. There is so much more I could say but this blog would be a mile long. Thank you all for your prayers and support! They definitely played a huge role in the success of this trip. Lastly, thank You God for allowing me to work with such wonderful people with a heart for You and for the impact You made on the Korean people through us.
Sonia E. Vargas
Sonia's desire and hope is to write for the purpose of inspiring this generation, especially young woman.
Hannah Helm is a fun and outgoing young woman who loves to bring laughter and joy to anyone she comes in contact with. She is 23 years old and is a leader of Girl's Exalting the Master Ministry.
Paula is a passionate follower of Christ and loves to encourage others around her to do the same. She is 27 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014.
Kristyn is a sweet and gentle young lady from Trinity Holiness Tabernacle. She is 19 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She plays the piano and sings beautifully. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014 and Honduras team in 2016.