Thanks for praying for our SoCal Team! We had a great week serving Jesus all the way on the other side of the country and have so much to share! Our guides for the week, Encompass World Partners, led our team of 22 students and 5 leaders in many cultural experiences, service opportunities, and Gospel-sharing times. The goals for the team were:

1) to grow a bigger heart for the world and
2) to train ourselves in sharing the Gospel – and we did both!

We were a part of culturally rich communities where we interacted with people from Cambodia, Vietnam, Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, China, and Japan, among others. We also spent time at a Mosque learning about Islam and at a Temple learning about Buddhism, all for the purpose of gaining insight on how to more effectively share the Gospel with people! And students shared the gosel everywhere we went, at Target, at a church park program for Kids, at a Mosque, and even at the beach (we were in California, after all)! We experienced joy when a person decided to follow Him, sadness when someone rejected Him, and and a greater burden in our hearts for people who need Jesus, especially those back home. Here are just a couple of stories from two of our students on the SoCal mission trip:

“Yesterday at the Mosque I noticed a lot of ritualistic activities. Muslim people were praying the same prayers at the same time. Later that day at the Ramadan feast, we were talking to a Muslim man. In the middle of our conversation with him he stopped and told us how he needed to pray now because the Islamic faith told him to. Dropping everything, the man went to pray because it was, “what he had to do.” Seeing this happen raised a question in my heart, “Do these ritualistic prayers even mean anything to these people?” I often find that rehearsed prayers don’t mean as much to me; I would rather chat with Jesus like one would with a best friend. Seeing these rituals at the Mosque made me thankful for what I have in Jesus. I don’t need rituals to feel confident in my faith. I know that Jesus will accept me where I am and for who I am.” -Lexi Miller

“After our time at the Buddhist Temple, we each made two lunches and drove to the Civic Center which has a large population of homeless people. We broke off into groups to share our lunches with the homeless people around. This was a new experience for many on our team but the impact was incredible. We were able to share our stories and hear theirs. Many of us were able to share the gospel and pray with the people we met. This experience changed our hearts and views of the homeless, not only in California, but in Wayne County as well. This opened our eyes to the brokenness of the world and it broke our hearts. We realized that we are incredibly blessed and we want to make a difference back home. We heard stories that will not soon be forgotten. Every person walked away changed from this experience. ” – Gabrielle Swartzentruber