On Saturday, September 29, the Global Missions Evening put the spotlight on recent mission trips to Spain and Thailand. For Missions Pastor Wes White, it was a celebration of people in our church body who say “Yes, the Gospel has to travel! And, I’m willing to help take it around the world.”
Many described experiencing God’s presence more deeply as they stepped outside of their comfort zones. “In the United States, we’re always focused on things that demand our attention,” said Michelle White, who joined her husband Wes and son Weston on the trip to Spain. “But on Mission, we rely on Christ moment to moment. It’s refreshing, challenging, and helps us see things from a more eternal perspective.”
On Mission: Basketball and Bible Study in Piccasent, Spain
A team of eight people traveled to Spain in July to help Pastor Fernando and the church of Iglesia Esperanza De Vida reach out to the community. Although the church only has about 35-40 members, they are working to spread the Gospel and plant two new churches in the region.
“We started and ended every day with devotions as a team,” remembers Carol Evans. “We were all very different and everyone brought something unique: language skills, physical ability, knowledge, age, or experience. We learned so much from one another and I was really struck by what God accomplished.”
During the day, the team split up to lead a basketball camp for children or prayer walk around the community. In the evenings, they spent time in fellowship with the locals after a Bible study at the church by missionary Jim Thurber.
“As we were prayer walking,” recalled Pamela Janero, “you could feel the darkness and spiritual warfare that is in Spain. God’s presence is just not there anymore. For some reason, God put a young girl named Deborah on our hearts and many of us prayed for her throughout the week. On the last day, Michelle shared the Gospel with her and she accepted Christ. It was an extraordinary experience. I hope that we see Deborah again when we return next year.”
Weston White, the youngest person in the group at 14, said “Because I speak Spanish, I was a translator to all of the little kids. The day it was my turn to share my testimony with them, my roommate Mike suggested that we read a verse together. It was about nervousness and how God is always with us. God sent a message through Mike so that I could help lead these kids to Christ.”
Ted Polk discovered that, “It doesn’t matter your age, what you do, or if you can speak the language. The people are just glad to see you. It means a lot that someone from another part of the world has come to get to know them and see how they can help.”
On Mission: At the Village of Hope in Northern Thailand
The Chapel is partnering with International Cooperating Ministries (ICM) to help bring the Gospel and plant churches in Thailand. The country is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Animism. It’s estimated that only 5% of the population has heard the Gospel and less than .5% are considered Evangelical Christian.
In September, a team from the Chapel went to visit the Village of Hope, a Christian orphanage and school led by Prautan and Gik, a husband and wife team. Their efforts are protecting children from human trafficking by keeping them in school and away from traffickers coming up from Southern Thailand.
The team helped the children and built a relationship with Prautan and Gik. Jessica Grimes said, “They’re an amazing couple and I’m so excited for others to meet them. We helped teach English classes in the morning and led VBS in the afternoon. There were nine of us and 330 kids, which was challenging, but we had a good time and the kids enjoyed it.”
“Our mantra for the week was ‘Be ready for change,’” said E.A. Elliot. “There were a lot of things we didn’t anticipate, and our schedule didn’t always go as planned. But, that gave us more time as a team to spend with Prautan and Gik, pouring into them as they were pouring into us. It was such a sweet time because we got to cry and laugh together and think of the sweet faces that we saw each day.”
Jessica added, “The joy on their faces was incredible. The children were so happy, so full of love, and so proud of where they lived. It was hard to leave.”
The highlight of the Thailand trip was seeing the baptism of over 50 children who had accepted Christ. As children were baptized one by one in a stream, other children stood on the bank singing I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. It’s a moment the team will never forget.
“Watching these children worship was amazing. They were singing songs we knew, but they were singing in Thai. I realized that I need to make God and Jesus more central in my life and in my children’s lives,” said Laura. “They were a great witness to us.”
Mike Morris agreed. “We are blessed to be part of all of this. The vision of 180 children who would never have known Jesus singing and clapping and praising him is emblazoned on my heart.”