Sincerest apologies for such a delayed blog update! One would think that things would become more chill after the conclusion of the academic semester…. #nah #humbled #flexibility
Couple of personal highlights (before diving into ministry highlights):
- My driver’s license has been reinstated after being cleared through the DMV and several medical exams/forms! JON IS BACK ON THE ROAD!!!
- Passed the halfway point of my 1-year internship (June 27, 2017)! Can’t believe how fast time has flown…
Really though, to describe how the past 6 months have been, I’d like to use an analogy that I’ve shared in a debrief before:
My time here so far has been like a pre-heating oven… You go in, you get the oven started, yeah… okay. 100 degrees F… slowly getting there… 115…. 140… 175…. and things are slowly heating up and before you know it… *BEEP* … The pre-heating alarm goes off and your oven has successfully reached 350 degrees F.
AWWWWW YUS IT’S TIME TO BAKE SOME COOKIES! mmmmmmMMMMM
And as you open the oven… THERE IT IS – A sweeping inferno of heat hits your face and pushes you back in awe… The power…. the deliciousness that awaits…. You’re overwhelmed.
The inferno of heat is indeed, July School of Evangelism & Kids Camp, which has finally arrived. Lots of mixed emotions of excitement, anxiety, weariness… But I’m in eager anticipation to see what wondrous miracles and works from the Big-Man-Upstairs will unfold as the weeks go on for the rest of the month.
And yes, I’m
kind of severely cramming this update in literally right before July School / Kids Camp starts up in about 2 hours LOL… Despite the timing, I still wanted to squeeze in (now or never, right? Haha) some ministry highlights from the past couple of months, as well as some prayer requests & ways that God has been working in my heart lately!
1) Young Adults Dinner-For-8 (D48)
Back in April, a handful of YAs opened up their homes to host a “Dinner For 8” (Ours ended up being a Dinner-For-10 or something to that extent) haha… Quite possibly the highlight of my time in the YA ministry thus far! It was so interesting to see diversity – regular OTR servants, adults from around town, UC students, International Students… It was quite the melting pot indeed, and really exemplified what community looks like!
2) Baptism / Easter Service
He Is Risen! We celebrated Easter Sunday w/ the Infant Dedication of baby Zy’mira, and the Baptism of 3 brothers and sisters – John (Jaafar, a Syrian refugee), Veronica, and Deana (teen girls). Praise the Lord for their encouraging public declaration of faith! (:
3) Teen Boy’s Retreat @ Chicago
At the end of May, the Living Water Church brothers took 5 teen boys on a road trip to Chicago! The central theme for the weekend was “What makes a man?” It was the first time visiting the big city for many of the boys! Granted, many of the boys were glued to their phones for the majority of the trip, but God was still able to use the small moments to really change the hearts and dynamics of their relationships. It was encouraging to at least see the boys connect with one another during free time, or during basketball games. Some of them even sang along in worship (which they very seldom do during regular Sunday service). Sure, there wasn’t a dramatic revival or anything of the sort (at least to the common human eye), but one cannot deny that God at least touched their hearts in some way that fits into the bigger picture of their journey with Christ. Our prayer is that the teens will look back on this weekend and remember how it really was God that spoke to them in the eating, walking, games, and discussion!
4) AMI Institute NYC – May 2017
*cue Hamilton soundtrack* – IN NEW YORK YOU CAN BE A NEW MAN~~~~
JUST YOU WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIITTTTT
It wasn’t long after the Chicago Boy’s Trip before I hopped onto a plane to New York City! With this being my very first time in the concrete jungle, of course I couldn’t help but break out into super-awkward-tourist-mode taking in all the sights and sounds.
It’s not about “missions”… but about the mission… It’s not just “doing things” to help people. Sure, it’s great to provide finances, food, shelter, clean water, and all of these practical things to get a community going… But in the big picture of things, if the gospel isn’t shared with them… Quite frankly, they’re still hell-bound without knowing Jesus in their hearts.
Nowadays, modern evangelicals have a tendency to be afraid of sharing the gospel. I understand – I’m experiencing that same fear as well. Is the gospel going to be too *sensitive* for people?
God knows things that we don’t! And certainly, we must strive in faith to trust that He is using every single word, thought, and prayer in some unique way for His kingdom.
But how are we supposed to know for sure? Gotta give it a try anyway! No harm in doing so… We don’t share the gospel for people to accept us – We share the gospel for people to accept Jesus.
To those who have fear… Truly, the only way you can fail at evangelism, is simply by not sharing the gospel at all.
Sobering. Quite sobering, indeed…
& PRAYER REQUESTS:
To be honest, the past month or so since AMI Institute has been incredibly rough… You’d think that I’d remain super refreshed or at least on some sort of “spiritual high” after such a wonderful conference… but the devil wasted no time in exposing my vulnerabilities, particularly so with community and relationships. It’s been a rocky season in terms of my relationships with the OTR community, probably because I’m constantly stuck comparing the people here to the people I know from back home.
Another analogy: Let’s say I’ve been used to eating “fruits” in San Diego, but here in Cincinnati, I’m learning how to eat vegetables…. In the end, they’re both still good for you, but in very different (and sometimes similar!) ways. Sure, I can’t really change or tailor the community to my personal desires, but I can certainly change the way that I respond (quite a familiar theme…).
And amazingly, I think even through the struggles of depression, loneliness, bitterness, and frustration…. God really is strengthening my character – Not that I’m being transformed into a desensitized soul or anything of the sort… but rather, He is helping me to understand that I still do have a lot to be thankful for. Considering my track record of sins, it’d make sense that I’d deserve nothing… But it really does make His grace all the more sweeter.
With that being said, here are 3 prayer requests as I head into July School / Kids Camp with all the visiting AMI Missionaries!
- UNITY – CAN’T HAVE COMMUNITY WITHOUT UNITY! The devil loves to feed into our selfishness and tear us apart from the inside…. Please pray for unity among the OTR members in addition to all the missionaries! Living and serving in close quarters for the next 2.5 weeks will certainly spark many *interesting* scenarios… but again, we hope that we can remember that we are all on the same side, serving the same God!
- ANXIETY (personal one) – I’m overseeing a lot of the July School logistics during the actual conference itself… Of course, with me being so hard on myself all the time, it can feel easy to bear an unusual amount of pressure on my shoulders… All eyes are on me… Jon, don’t screw this up please… But inevitably, mistakes may or may not happen… but there’s grace! Pray that I can have a free heart to worship during the next few weeks – That anxiety or fear may not hinder me from holding on to His peace that He provides in His refuge.
- The OTR COMMUNITY – Pray that many hearts would be open and touched by the gospel during Street EV time and Kids Camp!
Thank you once again for supporting me in prayer and finances! I really should update more frequently ;_____; …. Cheers to a fantastic, fun-filled July School/Kids Camp!!! Big update for that coming err…. well, who knows at this point? Haha