Marshall Evangelical Free Church
'Can I Pray For You?'
Youth Galveston Missions Trip 2010
Something unexpected happened on a recent mission trip to Galveston, Texas, that will forever change my view of short term missions! What comes to your mind when you hear about a short term missions trip with high school students? Perhaps generic support letters, long van rides, Vacation Bible School, work projects, helping the poor, miserably sleepless nights, or even sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with down and out people you've never met? Well, all of that happened and more.
On Saturday, July 10, 10 teens, three adults, and my beautiful wife and I left Marshall Evangelical Free Church for a week long missions trip to Galveston, Texas. We had expectations of helping those affected by Hurricane Ike, which utterly devastated the island a year and a half ago. We served through work projects and sharing Jesus Christ at Vacation Bible School complete with puppets, crafts, and teaching. However, when we returned to Marshall on Sunday, July 18, our perspective on missions and evangelism had been forever changed.
Long before we ever departed, I had everyone write a list of personal prayer requests for the trip and commit to praying through that list daily up until the trip. We would be working through the Evangelical Free Church of America Crisis Response ministry. I learned that it was their practice to encourage teams to incorporate the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their prayers when they prayed with people. So, we practiced praying the Gospel with one another without even realizing how much this exercise was preparing us for a missions trip focused and revolving around prayer.
The first day in Galveston we were encouraged by the EFCA staff to take every free moment to go on prayer walks in the neighborhoods we were working in. One of the prayer requests that I had been praying through regularly was that God would give me, as team leader, a fearlessness with the Gospel that would inspire the whole team to follow suit. Sure enough, our very first day of work, one of our youngest students, Danny West, and I were given the chance to talk about Christ with a man on the street. A few hours later I needed to use the restroom, so I knocked on a neighbor's door to use their toilet. While visiting with this family, God gave me a fearlessness in loving-on and praying the Gospel with the couple. God answered my prayers and allowed me to share Christ through prayer.
Story upon story could be shared about the rest of our team picking up and running with the baton of prayer, but it all culminated in a hot dog give away we hosted toward the end of our trip. The goal of the whole outreach: asking every person before they leave, "Can I pray for you?" For the first part of the event, a couple of students were really getting into it and praying for people. But what I witnessed in the last hour of the event was transformational on multiple levels. By the end, everyone on the team, even the most timid personalities, was fearlessly talking and praying with people. The people were blessed and exposed to the Gospel. Our team was empowered with the tool of prayer to use the rest of our lives to minister and reach out to others. To God be the glory!
James 5:16b says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." Never had I understood that verse as clearly as I do now. One of our leaders, Nate Beich, when asked what changes God was calling him to make at home said, "Using the question 'Can I pray for you?' in everyday life." Maybe you're longing to share Christ with people but you're always struck by fear of rejection and failure. Let our life changing experience provide you with a relational way to share the Gospel with others, "Can I pray for you?"