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God's Work. Our Hands. September 13, 2015

St. Mark’s will be participating in God’s Work. Our Hands. again this year.  Please reserve a space on your calendar for Sunday, September 13.  For more information, please contact John Lewis or Tom Perry.

Their smiles.  Their laughter.  Their joy.  I am surrounded by 100 little Zimbabwean school children.  I find myself wondering why God has chosen me to be the one who is caught up in this experience, but I am so thankful that He has.  My team is hosting a Vacation Bible School program and we are about to play Duck Duck Goose.  I have just told the children to form a big circle.  But instead of spreading out and sitting beside each other, they all run towards me and circle around me.  Little arms are wrapped around my waist and small hands are latching onto my arms.  I am literally being pulled in a dozen different directions and I am beginning to lose my balance as I am being tugged on from all sides.  However, what I find funny about this is that never have I felt more stable, grounded, and at peace than I am in this moment.

God displayed His power and plans to me in big ways during my two weeks in Zimbabwe and I would like to share my experience with you as best I can.  My team, made up of 11 students from Liberty University, had the opportunity to see God at work in Zimbabwe in ways we will never be able to adequately describe.  We visited orphanages, schools, and churches to share our personal faith stories, tell of Jesus’ love, provide workbooks for school children, fellowship with one another, and pray over hundreds of children and adults.  With each day, I caught new glimpses of how great our Father’s love is for all of His children.  However, I believe the most impactful part of our ministry came while holding the VBS program at one of the local schools.  For about two hours a day for three days, 200 children gathered together to hear Bible stories, make crafts, sing praises to the Lord, and play games.  A pastor at one of the local churches partnered with us for this time of ministry.  After finishing the VBS program one day, the headmaster of the school invited my team and the pastor into his office and asked us to pray over the students and teachers who attended and taught at the school.  After our prayer, he went on to tell us that because he had seen the excitement and desire of the students to learn more about Jesus, he had decided he would like the pastor to teach Bible classes to the students on a weekly basis!  My team was thrilled to hear of this great news and we thanked God for allowing us to witness the fruit of our ministry.  This is only one of the many times we experienced how fervently God is at work in a place that is often overlooked and forgotten.

Our time in Zimbabwe came to an end too soon, but I know that ministry will continue and the sharing of the gospel will be faithfully preached by the local believers.  Since arriving home, I have been able to reflect on my experience and the things that God has been teaching me:

  • We must be faithful in the little things, even those that seem insignificant (Matthew 25:14-29).  This includes our personal lives as well as our role as the body of the Church.  We as Christians must take care of what God has entrusted us with.  Money, resources, time, talents, and prayer are all things that we must use wisely and in ways that will be beneficial not only to the already existing body of believers, but also to those who have not yet heard or responded to the gospel.
  • “Missions” is a mindset.  Missions can be done overseas in a different continent, in the States, in the workplace, and even at home!  Bringing the gospel to all people groups is a great task, but there are so many different cultures and peoples represented in America that we have the chance to live out the Great Commission here at home on a daily basis! The mission field surrounds us everywhere we go and while this is so easy to forget, we must help each other as we practice having a “mission’s mindset” every day! (Acts 1:8)
  • It is not our job to change lives.  We do not have the power to do so.  We are commanded to share the gospel and live out our faith in Christ, or as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, plant and water seeds, and trust that God will do the harvesting and transforming of lives (1 Corinthians 3:5-11).
  • We may not always see the fruit of our labors instantly, in a few months or years, or even in our lifetime.  However, it is still extremely important to remain faithful in fulfilling our task of advancing the Kingdom of God.  And when we do get to see the fruit of our work, rejoice! (Hebrews 11:13-16)
  • Pray intentionally and constantly.  Be grateful…for everything!

Keeping these points in mind each day is quite the task itself!  Living them out is very challenging and even seems daunting at times!  I fail and make mistakes as much as anyone but still God’s grace and mercy remain.  As God has revealed these new precepts to me, I know He has not done so without giving me the strength and the ability to work on them and grow closer to Him as I do.

Their smiles.  Their laughter.  Their joy.  The people of Zimbabwe will always have a special place in my heart and I will never forget the smiles, laughter, and joy that they brought me! I am so thankful that God has given me such caring and supportive people in my life who so generously made donations and devoted themselves to prayer to make my time in Zimbabwe possible.  Please know that you brought truth, love, and so much joy to hundreds of people and that God has used your gifts and prayers in ways that are unexplainable!  Let us all continue to faithfully serve the Lord and work together to make His name known among the nations!       

With a thankful and joyful heart,
Mikahla Stouffer