Although sadly for our team our trip is complete for this year, God did and continues to do some amazing things in the lives of our team members and in the lives of those whom they have influenced. Please take a moment to enjoy the heartfelt testimonies of some of our team members!
Maxwell Barker - I'm not exaggerating when I say that this trip changed my life. I grew up in a church that taught me the importance of missions, but I never realized how great the need truly was. To visit a first-world country approximately the size of the United States that has roughly 24 million people and only 160 independent, fundamental Baptist churches was eye-opening. People always talk about moments they will never forget. Well, this missions trip was a month of moments I will never forget! God was so good! I had the best teammates I could ever hope for who constantly sought to serve Christ and others, I met missionaries who were faithfully doing the Lord's work and enjoying every minute of it, I spent time in sweet fellowship with other believers, I saw a country that was beautiful beyond description, but more than anything else, I saw a need. I met people who had no knowledge of the man called Jesus Christ; I talked to teenagers who struggle with victory over Satan; I visited churches in need of pastors. Australia is a country where God's creative handiwork is so beautifully shown, but His Word is so scarcely known! I wouldn't trade this past month for anything! Is God calling me to Australia? I couldn't say, but I can say that I have the greatest desire to go back! And who knows, next summer, Lord-willing, I just may!
Jamison Edwards - For three years I thought about taking the opportunity to go on a mission trip with one of the college teams. However, I would always allow my fears to overcome my faith in God. I thought that I didn't have a lot to offer, and that I just couldn't be used to reach anyone in a different country. Senior year finally came, and during the mission chapel God really began to convict me about a trip more than He ever had before. It wasn't long until I decided I would at least sign up. As I was looking through all of my options, Australia kept standing out to me. I would scroll past it and try to pick something else, but I felt God was leading me to hit the Australia button. Ever since I hit that button, God has done more than I could've ever imagined. After my interview with the Cirones, I just knew I had no chance of being picked for the trip. Well, God had other plans. He put me on Team Australia, He raised my support the night before it was due, and He helped me grow more in one month than I ever thought was possible. I got on a plane in LA not knowing that I was about to fall in love with Australia and its people. I questioned whether or not I would get along with my team, but the first day we were all together all of my doubts were erased. As a family we traveled and ministered to the people of Australia the best way we knew how. All the while, we were becoming closer to God, to each other, and to each person we met along the way. None of us were perfect, and we all had our fears. But through God's grace we pushed beyond our limits. Each one of us had a special piece to our team's puzzle that held us together. I truly believe without one, we wouldn't have been what we needed to be. I thank God for convicting me to take on a mission trip, but I'm even more thankful that he led me to Team Australia. I now have been blessed by that country and it's people in ways I couldn't even begin to express. I have sweet memories that I will never forget, and I have lifelong friends that have made an impact in my life. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate, and I plan to one day return to Australia, the country that now has my heart!
Naomi Garcia - During my years at college, I always thought it would be amazing to go to another country and be on a mission team. I thought that the "idea" would be amazing, but I would put off putting that "idea" into action. Senior year came and I finally decided to just go for it--to give God my everything and not hold back from applying to go on a mission trip. My initial thought was, "would they even pick me?" Well, I got an interview and then next thing you know, God opened the door for Team Australia (the team I was praying about). I know God answers prayer, but that moment of acceptance on the mission team began a whole cycle of my eyes opening up to how mighty my God really is. Next step was to raise the support and God proved above and beyond that He wanted me to go on this trip. My church family was so supportive and when I thought the amount for support could not be raised God proved His power. Throughout the school year we would have team meetings and training sessions to get us ready for Australia. I wasn't sure how our team would bond or if personalities would go together. I believe that the true bonding happened when we got on our 15-hour plane ride to Sydney. Being in Australia, serving with missionaries, and seeing the beautiful creation that God created are some things that will forever be sweet memories to me. I loved teaching young children Bible stories and helping with camp ministries. If you are considering going on a mission trip-do it! This trip taught me to surrender my will and go where God leads me because He has the best path for me.
Tiffany Goewey - I had never thought it possible for God to send me somewhere like Australia for a missions trip, and now looking back after completing a 32-day trip there with the Cirone's and 8 other college students, I am even more amazed by God and His power and love than ever before. There are so many things I could say about what God allowed us as a team to accomplish, and how He used every ministry opportunity and interaction with the people we met as tools for our own personal growth, as well as the growth and unification of our team, but two words stick with me more than anything else: "Christian unity." To me, there is nothing quite like the amazing unity and almost instant friendship you feel with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. This unity exists because both people have the most important thing in common, which is a mutual love for Christ and commitment to serving Him. While in Australia, I witnessed this Christian unity at every single ministry we went to. From serving churches in the cities, to helping with camps and attending evangelistic meetings and letter-boxing in the Outback aboriginal communities, we were able to work and serve alongside of some wonderful people who quickly became dear friends. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to go to Australia, and will never forget everything God taught me through this trip. If you're considering going on a missions trip, I have one word for you, "go!" There is nothing to lose and everything to gain when you surrender yourself to God's leading and perfect will.
Ashton Robbins - "Mission trip" brings to mind ideas of traveling to another country, region, or community. It includes meeting new people, experiencing new things, and learning about how ministering for Christ takes on different forms in those locations. Most times the primary focus of a mission trip is on those being ministered to, (be it in the form of encouraging and coming alongside a missionary, directly sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world around us, meeting physical, financial, emotional, needs etc.) as the goal of a mission trip should well be. But the aspect of a missions endeavor that is not so often mentioned, is the growth and changes that occur, by God's leading, in the heart of the one ministering. I would dare say a mission trip can be as valuable in the lives of those serving to share God's love and help established missionaries, as it can be in the lives of those being served. Yes, while my team and I were privileged and incredibly grateful to help many dedicated Christians in different ministries, God was also able to use this Australian mission trip for many different purposes in my own life as well. He used it to stretch my teaching ability(which was virtually non-existent as a business major) through my giving a Sunday school lesson to children. In the same situation, He strengthened my faith in His provision and promise that when we are not enough, He fills the gaps. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 He used it as a timely healing experience that was focused on Him and on others instead of on my own problems or pain. He was able to show me the many different needs and mission opportunities that exist and open my eyes to the possibility that one day, if God leads, I too could participate in ministries similar to those we had visited. But it didn't just open my eyes to a possible future in mission work. God used this experience to recharge me and make me excited to go back home and serve in my local church. Since graduating in May, I'm eager to become more permanently involved in serving at my church and God has used this experience to help me consider new avenues of serving.
A particularly special blessing during the trip, was the team of talented, godly individuals that I am truly grateful to have met. We bonded quickly and honestly became a family as we traveled, ate, worked, taught, prayed, cried, and laughed (a lot) together. The unity we shared, though as in a normal family wasn't without it's tiring and stressful moments, was definitely a gift from God. During the time we spent together over 32 days, I honestly grew to love them and deeply value their hearts for Jesus Christ and for others! Many times during the trip, God used a team member to encourage me when I was nervous or uplift me when I was tired or down and though we started as friends on the trip, we parted as family.
I could go on about how good God was on the trip and give other examples of what I've learned. Tell of how gracious and loving and wonderful our Savior is everyday. But I will end with the statement that this experience of a mission trip was provided by God, and that I intend to use what I've learned, by God's grace, in greater and continued service for Him.
Joshua Springs - While in Australia, our Lord Jesus showed constantly that all everyone needs today is provided solely in Him. That is because "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). Whether those people are believers for years or recently saved, our Lord Jesus showed in great and marvelous ways how He alone lovingly and completely meets those needs. When it comes down to it, we are needy people. There is not a day that passes by that the Lord Jesus cannot do great and marvelous works. And on this trip, when we took the time to seek our Lord Jesus' face and joy in Him all the day, we saw Him do what He alone can do - Great and Marvelous Works! (Rev. 15:3) Our Lord Jesus did this when He helped a cabin full of guys to reflect on and treasure Him for Who He is. Our Lord Jesus did this when He saved Matthew and James, two boys who were not only skipping school for the day at the park, but also had never heard the Gospel before. Our Lord Jesus did this when He allowed the visit with an elderly lady to be the highlight of her year. And the whole team on this trip could give you similar testimonies of how our Lord Jesus, the water of life, met people's salvation and spiritual needs at a church or in the middle of a town. What was most life-changing about this trip was seeing how our Lord Jesus fills the lives of all those who realize they need only Him. "Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11)."
Ryan Sumardi - One word to describe the 2017 Australia Outreach Ministry, Amazing. God is an amazing God that help the team bond together as family in such a short amount of time. I am very thankful that God allowed me to be a part of this ministry. This trip allowed me to preach my first sermon ever - This itself is amazing because I never thought that God would use me in this capacity. The most memorable part of this ministry is that God used me to lead a child to Christ. God uses many of us in an indescribable way. I am grateful for what He has done for me and I am glad that I will be back to Pensacola Christian College again this fall as Graduate Assistant.
Lexi Thompson - Life is like an enormous puzzle. Some people work really hard to get the pieces in the right place, but often they miss the most important pieces. Without all the pieces, we are NEVER complete! In my life, my puzzle has yet to be completed. Through this journey, ‘down under’, I found and built on a few pieces in my life:
- Fearless Piece – This piece is two-fold: adventure and fear. From climbing up a waterfall in the Blue Mountains, bruising my shin in an intense game of capture the flag, going all out in camp skits, and much more: adventure has me written all over it. You only live once, so why not live it to the fullest! God has shown me being me is the best me I can be. As for fear I grew tremendously! I grew through traveling out of the country for the first time, watching God provide need after need, letterboxing (track distribution), trying new and interesting foods, and just taking leaps of faith. The things you are often most fearful of are often the most rewarding!
- Purpose Piece – God can use anyone for His work. Christians are called to not only see the people, but see the problem. Their problem is their need for a Savior! People NEED the Lord! Going into this trip, I never realized how much God could and would use me. I had the opportunity to lead a women’s Sunday School, be the cabin leader of Magpie Geese, work in an Aboriginal community, encourage many missionaries, help lead four souls to the Lord, and many more opportunities I never thought possible. When you give Him your all, He will give you all of Him!
- Teamwork Piece – If you ask our leaders (The Cirones) how they picked such a great team, they would say through prayer and God alone. I can honestly say we couldn’t have had a better team. Each member played an important role. Although we were much more than a team, but more like a family. Through this trip I not only gained brothers and sisters, but prayer-warriors, life-long friends, and cherishing memories with each one of them.
- Growing Piece – When people say mission trips are life-changing, I never realized what they meant until I experienced it for myself. I came on this trip for the people, but I think the people had more of an effect in my life! From the beginning to the end, I grew spiritually. No matter where we are, we are in God’s mission field. I am going to do my best for God, and leave the rest for God.
- Waiting Piece – As I approach my last year of college I don’t know what God has in store for me, but that’s ok. In Psalm 16:11 it says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand, there are pleasures for evermore.” Australia has shown me many doors that I can go through, it is only a matter of time when God opens one.
The key to the puzzle is first, Accepting Jesus! Next is Surrendering to Jesus. Just because we are saved does not mean we are standing complete in the Will of God. As Jesus once said, “Thy Faith had made thee whole!” What pieces do you have in your puzzle?