Even though our 2016 Team Australia summer missions trip is over, their memories are not as God continues to work in our team member's hearts. Enjoy their heartfelt testimonies...
Amy Adkins: Praise the Lord for another amazing trip! I am so thankful I had the opportunity to travel with the team again this year. Many people have asked what my favorite part of the trip was, but I don't really have an answer. As we traveled from ministry to ministry, I loved each unique opportunity to serve and fellowship with fellow believers. Australia will always have a piece of my heart! However, the Lord really impressed on me His desire for a willing heart. At each church, believers were busy singing, preaching, teaching, etc., regardless of their vocation, education, or experience. They would willingly come early to set up, wash the dishes after a church dinner, or even clean the toilets. It didn't matter who they were or what their job was; they worked together to serve the Lord and each other. As I return to my home and church, I pray the Lord will help me to apply Ecclesiastes 9:10a: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
Becca Dickerson: There are several things that I thoroughly enjoyed over this past month while here in Australia. In America it is illegal to put letters in people’s mailboxes. In Australia, anyone can place advertisements in letterboxes, so I really liked being able to pass out tracts. We did a Holiday Bible Club at one church in Sydney where we dressed up as knights in the medieval times. We all looked ridiculous, but we played the part very well and by the end we even missed our “uniform.” After Sydney, we went to a youth camp in Walker Flat. The messages were about God’s love and our love for others. The messages were convicting and we saw God work in several lives, even the counselors. I enjoyed getting to know the people there and seeing how real and open everyone was--I cannot forget to mention my lovely teammates. Let me just say that God knew exactly who he wanted on this team. I did not know anyone before this trip. It is nice to see how God put everyone together. It is nice to see how we would work together as some weakness would be the others strength. Each member has taught me something in a unique way. They have been such an encouragement to me and I am glad to have known them. It is hard to let everyone go their separate ways and continue on with life. We will still have the memories and pictures to reminisce. It may sound weird but I liked the long road trips, sleepy conversations, and perfecting the “meals on wheels.” I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity that God has allowed me to be a part in. Without God, none of this would have been possible.
Micah Farmer: My “Adventure Down Under” can be summed up like this: I had a blast! God, through His grace, enabled me to go on this trip, and He has strengthened my heart for missions. As of right now, God’s calling keeps me on American soil, but I must admit that the Australian people have a close place in my heart. As a future minister, this trip gave me real experience with real missionaries, churches, and people. When I first landed in Australia, my goal, which was already solidified in my mind, was to be a willing servant. Even though I often fell short of this, God blessed me tremendously! The culture, language, and people were a little different, but God used these to get me out of my comfort zone and rely upon His strength.
Also, I had so much fun! Yes, we did a lot of work, but we experienced so many adventures. Whether it was hiking the Blue Mountains or feeding the kangaroos at the Australia Zoo, I can say that I had a wonderful time. In addition, kangaroos, emus, and koalas, though peculiar, provided wonderful entertainment to us Americans. Oh, and the landscape declared God’s glory, for I had never witnessed sunsets as I did when I visited Australia. They clearly were a wonderful sight to behold.
As a Christian, I am called to be a missionary. This calling, whether foreign or domestic, derives straight from God’s Word. Jesus has called us to share the Gospel, but are you willing to tell others? I highly encourage my colleagues as well as anyone else to go on a missions trip. You will be amazed at the blessings God bestows upon you.
Christy Hang Tuah: It's great to be back!!--that's all I can say. I'm so thankful for another opportunity God has given me to come to Australia again. We want to be a blessing for the people here, but it's always been us who are blessed and encouraged by the people. I got to serve in many local churches, especially in Sydney. I love Bible Baptist Church! They always have a special place in my heart. Sweet is the word to describe the teenagers as well as the adults. We had 2 days of youth rally and had so much fun fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ. It was an exhausting trip yet worth it all. Cheers for the memories made with my family in Christ!
Gloria Hunter: My favorite food from Australia is chips and gravy, but is closely followed by tea. Any type; just tea. My favorite Australian tradition is morning tea—that blissful half hour of sipping from a mug. My favorite Aussie phrase is “Do you want a cuppa?”, and the thing I’m bringing back with me from Australia is lots of tea.
But my missions trip wasn’t all about tea, it was about learning. Probably the biggest lesson I learned over my five weeks in Australia is that I need to go out of my comfort zones in talking to people. I need to forget any insecurities about Gloria and focus on the needs of people around me. And along those lines in talking to people, I need to focus on moving from small talk to talking about deeper spiritual things. After all, missions is about people, and they need to know about my Savior. I regret that I had to go to the other side of the world to learn that, but I’m very glad I did.
So by the time someone asked me at the end of the trip whether I’d rather live in Australia or America, I was actually stumped. Maybe I’ll answer that over my next cup of tea.
These simple phrases played through my mind many times during the last month. I was reminded often that God reveals Himself to us in the quiet times. The times we simply stop, take a deep breath, maybe sit on the side of a mountain, and listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit. He speaks when we take the time necessary to meditate on His Words and rejoice in His blessings.
More than once on this trip, God led me to specific people who needed a calm spirit, a listening ear, or sometimes just a timely reminder from God's Word. From our Brisbane teen events to the Sydney Kid's Club and letter boxing excursions, from winter camp in Walker Flat to church services in Mildura and Melbourne, God brought people in my path who needed someone to listen, someone to offer support, someone to introduce them to Christ.
What were some of the greatest blessings of this trip? One was simply experiencing God's mighty power and recognizing that my God is so powerful that He created the mountains, that He calms the storms, He protects His children, heals the hurting, loves the unloved, and saves the sinner. I was blessed by every brother and sister in Christ from every church across Australia who shared with me their ministry and who consistently perseveres in their faith. Their steadfastness in their faith encouraged me in mine.
Rebekah King: How can you put into words the most beautiful Australian sunsets, or the experience of living in close quarters with 11 virtual strangers for 31 days, or better yet, talking with young girls about how they can have their own assurance of salvation? I’m still working on those answers. What I can share now is how my nerves at the beginning of the trip melted away once the busy-work began. I was really looking forward to working with children again and every week I had my wish! I worked with elementary-aged children and some youth. I matured on this trip in many ways, too. First, I really needed to learn how to pack for long trips; second, Australians really know how to cook and graciously host; and last but not least, I really understand more about the power of prayer and the comfort it can be. Riding along the bumpiest of roads, when you don’t feel like reading, and you’re too full to eat another biscuit (cookie), God brings to mind different requests and Bible verses. This trip has helped me grow closer to God and I’m truly grateful for all the many people who have influenced me for the better. I have loved my time serving in Australia and have been so happy so see the gorgeous scenery (I got to lie in an eno!)! How can I explain everything? It may take some time for all the stories to come out, but if I could sum up my trip in one sentence it would be, “One trip was not enough.”
Suzanne Kozar: Inspiring. Breathtaking. Life-changing. Words cannot begin to describe the experience I've had being in Australia these past few weeks. God has worked not only in the lives of so many Aussie people, but also in my own life. Each ministry from Brisbane to Melbourne was unique and wonderful in their own ways, and oh so rewarding. A major blessing of this trip was being surrounded by teens who amidst their serious life struggles, they still continually choose to serve God. Whether it was in the Holiday Bible Club, the youth rallies, various church ministries, or letterboxing, I saw the desire of all types of people not only to learn more about God but also to build their relationship with God. Every person I was privileged to meet were both so genuine and endearing. This trip was filled with many firsts for me, and the beautiful scenery and many aspects of God's creation left me speechless. The adventures we had that were spread throughout our busy ministry schedule not only helped me bond to the team members, but also helped me gain so much appreciation for my surroundings. Through the various ministries, I learned valuable spiritual lessons that I can apply to my life. I learned the value of service, to be a shining light to this dark world, and that loving others is loving God. I also learned that happiness is a choice, and I realized my need to increase my prayer life. Most importantly, God placed a sincere desire on my heart to simply make a difference, and I completely surrendered my life to God. I have truly left this wonderful country changed.
Tim Krug: This 2016 Australian Mission’s trip has truly impacted my life. Throughout this trip I have seen one of God’s many promises come alive in my life. When you walk close with God and surrender your life to God’s control, God does amazing things through your life that you would have never dreamed possible. For instance, God says in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.” After the 2015 Australian Mission’s trip I had prayed that God would show me what He wanted me to do this summer. When I felt God might be leading me to go to Australia a second time, I wanted absolute confidence so I prayed that God would keep this spot open until after Christmas. Sure enough, when I texted Dr. Cirone in early January, the spot was still open. Then God began to show me the great and mighty things that He had in store for me. Dr. Cirone organized an opportunity for me to do two different internships in Australia as well as the mission’s trip. God truly did show me great and mighty things which I had never dreamed possible.
Aaron Palmer: Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” This verse describes how I feel after this trip. I just want to stand in awe of my Lord Jesus Christ. It all started in February when God provided all the funds I needed three months before the dead line. I knew God would provide; I just didn’t know it would be that fast. As we embarked on the trip I began to see how awesome my God is.
In Brisbane we were able to letterbox an area in the community that would have taken Pastor Marshall weeks to do. That is such a small thing, but we were told that there was a lady at church that next Sunday from the letter boxing that we did. God is an awesome God!
In Sydney God was again awesome, and I stand in awe of Him. During the first day of Holiday Kids Club it almost brought me to tears to see seventy or eighty children say Jonah 2:9, “Salvation is of the Lord.” We have a VBS at my church every year, but it wasn’t until this time that I realized how awesome God is that He would give ability to little children so that they can memorize verses like that. The youth rally in Sydney also showed God’s awesomeness. I had the opportunity to bring the message during the first night, and I have never preached as well as I did that night. I know that my preaching that night was only because God was showing me how awesome He is. God is an awesome God!
At Walker Flat during teen camp the teens showed me how awesome God is. Just a few years ago when I was their age nobody thought it was cool to live for God, and especially not during hard times in life. These teens just opened up during their devotional time and I realized that they were living for God even if their mother had died from cancer, or if their parents had just gone through a terrible divorce, or even if they had cancer in their very own hand. God truly was awesome at camp, because those teenagers were living for God no matter their situation.
In Mildura the church people were showing God’s awesomeness. Their church is a much different than the church I grew up in. People from all different walks of life and all different backgrounds, yet they all serve the Lord faithfully. God loves them all, and they all love and serve God.
What an awesome God we serve. This picture also includes a reason that God is awesome. Traveling this trip with these three guys has been a great blessing! God is awesome! Deuteronomy 10:17 says, “For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of Lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible (terrible means awesome).” Our God is an awesome God. He always has been; He has been on this trip; and He always will be an awesome God. In my vocabulary hardly nothing is awesome to me, but my God and what He does is truly awesome!