I arrived in Eastern Europe in the middle of the night after one flight cancellation and multiple flight delays. I was too exhausted to unpack, so I dropped everything and went straight to bed.
The next morning, I was ready. I was excited to meet the other interns, join the rock-climbing community and start making an impact for the kingdom.
I had joined the NEXT internship initiative with Global Partners because I would have the chance to teach, lead and participate in rock climbing while pursuing Christ. Little did I know my expectations, which included serving with the perfect team of interns, were going to be far from my reality.
I quickly recognized that the climbing community was very small and consisted of only youth, and an evident community impact was not going to happen on the spot. As for the team of interns, I have never been a part of a group that was so vastly different from me. Our worldviews, backgrounds and personalities were quite diverse.
During the first few weeks, my initial expectations came crashing down. I doubted my choice in being a NEXT intern. I questioned my motives. I did not fully click with my team of interns. I was not climbing as much as I’d hoped, and I did not feel like I was making any impact in the lives of the people around me.
As time passed, though, God began to reveal to me the reality and beauty of seeing mission work results differently than I had anticipated. I learned that
it is through developing meaningful relationships, discipleship and God’s hand that we see new believers come to know Christ.
What I originally saw as a possible mistake began to make sense. I understood that when families and a community are as deeply rooted in Islam and cultural Catholicism as our community was, it may take many years to see relational outreach take hold. When it does, strongholds begin to fall and generational ties that keep people from knowing Christ begin to break.
As God continues to reveal these truths to me, it now seems that my time in Eastern Europe was too short. But as short as it was, my time there was not in vain.
Seeds were planted and watered. Some of us interns had the opportunity to discuss Islam and Christianity with one of our Muslim friends. These discussions led to reading the Bible with him at his request.
The beauty of the NEXT internship is that it prepares interns for what comes next.
We learned that a local imam (Muslim leader) was watching and continues to watch Christian church services online. My language partner and I were able to have encouraging conversations with our language tutor and her mother about God, love, marriage and purity.
And the interns and I made friends with a local group of high school students. We heard about their wounds from the church, what they believed and how family history plays a significant and binding role in why they belong to a particular religion or church.
Although my pride and desire for success wishes the multitudes had been saved during my internship, I believe God’s work was done during my time in this country and is still being done today. It may not be evident at first glance, but I believe lives are slowly being transformed as the guarded walls of this community begin to crumble.
More so, the beauty of the NEXT internship is that it prepares interns for what comes next. I have never felt so confident in my calling. I have been equipped in disciple making and prayer.
I am a part of a Kingdom Force that consists of all generations, ethnicities and economic backgrounds, lay and clergy, male and female — people actively seeking to reach the lost and to bring God’s kingdom to earth. With the Holy Spirit’s direction, I can make an impact wherever he leads next.
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