myMISSION Collegiate Blog

Bigger Than Me

In 1953, Dr. Wana Ann Fort arrived in Zimbabwe, where she and her husband became the first doctors at the primitive Sanyati Baptist Hospital. In addition to serving as a doctor, Wana Ann was a cook, Sunday School teacher, hospital correspondent, language student, and mother of five sons.

Life on the missions field was difficult to say the least. The Forts not only faced physical and environmental challenges but also encountered a culture deeply rooted in witchcraft. The more the Forts understood the people’s tribal religion, the more they desired to show them the light of Christ.

Wana Ann tells incredible stories about how God changed the lives of the people in Sanyati in her memoir, A Thousand Times, Yes. I love this book and encourage my friends to read it, especially those who are interested in medical missions.

One day I loaned the book to my friend Annie, who is studying to be a physician’s assistant. A few months later, she called me and said, “Rachel, you’re not going to believe this!”

When It’s Easier to Give Up

I can think of many situations where I’ve wanted to give up. They vary from finishing a paper to working out at the gym, or even trying to mend a relationship.

When things become tougher than we originally expected, it can be tempting to quit. However, God often uses these moments to teach us an aspect of the fruit of His Spirit: patience.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us? Philippians 1:6 (NIV) says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I wrote this verse on a sticky note and put it on the front of my study Bible, where it stayed for nearly two years. Every time I opened that Bible, the verse reminded me that I was a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is my teacher, and He will never give up on me.

The Failed Lemonade Stand

I was the kind of kid who would do anything to make money. Whether it was washing the car or watching my little brother, I jumped at the chance to make an extra dollar.

In the summer after fifth grade, I decided that I wanted to set up a lemonade stand at our neighborhood pool. My parents said that was fine, but I would have to pay for the supplies.

After recruiting my brother as a co-investor, Mom took me to the grocery store where I learned that investing in a lemonade stand wasn’t cheap. After getting cups, lemonade mix, ice, and a cooler, I realized that I needed to sell a lot of lemonade to make a profit.

As the day went on, I grew more and more disappointed with my results. Even though I sold a few cups of lemonade, I was still in the hole. Worse yet, my business partner/brother had abandoned me to play in the pool. “Does he have to cover more of our debt if I ended up doing all the work?” I asked my mom.

Looking back, I can see that working that lemonade stand taught me a lot about earning money. While I felt like a failure in the moment, I now realize that the situation was a great lesson.

Not Just Another School Subject

One of my favorite classes in college was about different cultures and religions. We studied many ancient texts from authors like Aristotle, Buddha, St. Augustine, and Job.           

During this class, I befriended a student named Julie*. I could tell that Julie struggled with the material, and I offered to help her study. I didn’t know if Julie was a Christian, and I prayed that one of these study sessions would provide an opportunity to share the gospel.           

One day we were studying in the food court and discussing Christianity. This is the perfect time, I thought, and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to speak up.           

“You know, sometimes we talk about Jesus and Christianity like it’s just another school subject,” I said to Julie. My heart was pounding, and I tried to have a strong voice. “Actually, I believe that the Bible is true, and I believe in Jesus.”           

Julie looked at me, clearly intrigued. “Jesus isn’t just a character,” I continued, “He is real. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, and that is what gives me joy in life.”           

Taking Up Your Cross

If you are involved in a missions group, you’ve probably heard of Jesus’ command in Matthew 16:24, where he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NIV). The cross was an instrument of execution that gave criminals a long and excruciating death. When Jesus spoke these words, He was asking His disciples to give their lives for the gospel.

Thankfully we live in a country where we are free to proclaim God’s truth. However, the fact that we don’t face physical persecution does not excuse us from actively obeying Christ’s command.

In fact, Christians in America definitely relate to one element of Jesus’ experience in taking up His cross—ridicule. Matthew 27:27–30 describes when an entire company of Roman soldiers relentlessly mocked Jesus. They dressed Him up as a king, gave Him a twisted crown of thorns, spat on Him, and repeatedly beat Him on the head.

Working on Vacation

Last year I spent my spring break on the beaches of Naples, Florida, enjoying the sunny, 75 degree weather with my friends. While this vacation gave me a break from college, God showed me that I am never “on break” from the work of His Kingdom.

One morning I was jogging down the beach by myself, listening to my favorite music playlist. The beach was mostly empty, but I noticed two young women who were doing yoga. I had never taken a yoga class, and I had heard mixed opinions about whether or not it had a religious aspect.

As I jogged past the women, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. Yoga could be a great conversation started to bring up Jesus, I suddenly thought. But why would I talk to random people on the beach? What if they think I’m stuck-up? What if we never even get to the subject of Christianity?

I asked God to shut down these excuses as I turned around and walked back towards the women. They were rolling up their yoga mats when I approached them.

“Hi,” I said, “Are you doing yoga?”

How dumb! I immediately thought to myself. Of course they’re doing yoga. They’ll think I’m crazy!

What If the Sunday School Answer Is True?

Last August, I moved back to college early for a week of training for a leadership organization I was a part of. I had the opportunity to get to know students who I would work with for the upcoming school year, and I wanted to make a good first impression.

One of our meetings focused on motivation. We ended up breaking off into pairs to discuss our individual source of inspiration and purpose.

I immediately knew my answer: Christ is my source of motivation. However, did that sound like a cop-out? I was afraid that my partner would look at me like I just stepped out of Sunday School. It was my first chance to get to know this group, and I didn’t want to be labeled as the goody-goody church girl.

Despite these excuses running through my head, I knew in my heart that I needed to share the truth. God is my purpose, my life, and the reason that I live the way I do. He calls us to preach Christ and His gospel, even if people view us as weak or unintellectual.

Reaching Beyond Your Culture

When I was in first grade, a girl named Esther joined our class. My teacher explained that Esther’s family had just moved from Hungary, and Esther spoke very little English.

I loved Esther from day one. I thought she was fascinating, and I wanted to help her feel a part of our class. I discovered the perfect tool for breaking the ice: stuffed animals. Each day, I would bring one stuffed animal for Esther to play with in class. Even though she couldn’t communicate well with words, we both knew how to play with toys.

Later I decided that I wanted to get Esther a Hungarian Bible. My mom tried to help me find one, but we were unsuccessful. However, we did buy her a Bible in English. Esther’s mom told me that their family had one Bible, but Esther had never had one of her own. She was very excited.

Since befriending Esther, I have always had a passion for sharing the gospel with people from a different culture. The great news in college is that I’m surrounded by people from other cultures!

Loving for the Long Run

She’s the girl who doesn’t realize her boots went out of style three years ago. She’s the girl who constantly brags about her accomplishments and drives you crazy. She’s the girl who knows she’s an outcast. She’s also the girl who has no clue what people say behind her back.

We can all think of someone like this, and our first inclination is usually not to love them. Instead of saying, “She looks like she needs a friend,” we think, “I hope she doesn’t sit next to me!”

Jesus says that people will know that we are His disciples if we love one another (John 13:35). So how do we love people? By inviting them to dinner one Friday night, helping them study for an upcoming test, or stopping by their dorm room to ask how their day went.

These are all great ways to reach out to people, but they’re only the first steps to developing a relationship. If all we do is invite someone to hang out for 30 minutes, is that showing them that we really care?

My Secret Gift

When I was in second grade, I grew my hair out to donate it to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients. By December, I finally felt like my hair was long enough to cut off eight inches. My aunt is a hairstylist, and she agreed to give me a haircut at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Day.

When I first looked in the mirror after I heard the loud snip, I was taken aback by the drastic difference. My hair was short! But when Aunt Jen handed me an 8-inch ponytail, a warm feeling of excitement bubbled up from inside me. Someone with cancer was going to wear my hair.

Pretty soon I was flitting about my grandparents’ house, getting oohs and ahs from all of my family. “Rachel, your haircut looks so good,” they told me. “And that’s amazing that you’re donating it to help people. How cool!”

It didn’t take long before my head (not my hair) started to grow. Later that afternoon my Nana pulled me aside. “Rachel, I’m very proud of you,” she said, “but I want you to remember something. The Bible says that when we give, we should give in secret. The best part is that God is watching, and He will reward you” (Matt. 6:1–6).

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