Posted 1 year ago

The Final Countdown

I am already half way through my final week of ministry in Australia.  We go out sharing Wednesday (tomorrow) and Thursday.  That’s it.  Done.  It is so weird to say that we only have two days left to share.  A small part of me still doesn’t believe that I’m actually in Australia, like I have been in some dream for the past four weeks.  However, I have seen tremendous spiritual growth during my stay in Australia.  I’ve learned to rely on God when the students reject us and it is hard to share the gospel.  I’ve developed habits to continually be in His word and to keep myself in constant prayer.  I’ve learned to look towards God and know that I am perfect in His eyes and not feel inadequate.  I’ve learned to not be prideful of myself.  In short, I have felt God’s presence.  It is awesome to see these changes in my life through, but I am reminded that it was not because of me that these changes happened.  It is because of God and his holiness that I have changed.

With our ministry here in Australia coming to an end, a lot of the team members (me included) are feeling a bit run down.  Yesterday I had a few good conversations with people, but a majority of the students I talked to were so fixed on their own beliefs and were not open to Christianity.  It is frustrating, and it is difficult to continue to share the gospel in a loving way and not just hitting them until they get it.  Jesus conducted all of His ministry in a way of love, and I should try to do the same.

Today, the Christian group we are helping here in Australia (Student Life) held an event at RMIT Bundoora that we have been promoting for the last few weeks.  We put a lot of time into promoting for the event and the Student Lifers have put in even more time and energy, but when it came to the event only two new people showed up.  At first it was completely discouraging.  We received contact information from about 80 or so students that were interested in the event, but only two students showed up.  Completely not what any of us expected.  However, it IS a success for God.  We stepped out in faith so that we may give glory to Him.  And gaining two students for the Student Life movement is a victory in itself.  Before today, they were only five students in Student Life at the RMIT Bundoora, and now they’re members increased by 40%.  It is incredible that Student Life still shows growth through the event.  God definitely showed up.  On Thursday, we have a similar event at La Trobe.  Please pray that whatever the event turnout is, that God will be glorified.

So this is the last week in Australia.  The final countdown.  I am thankful for the friendships I’ve developed on this trip.  I am excited that God was able to use each of us in different ways to share His love and share the gospel.  I am stoked our group saw eight students make the decision to follow Christ.  And in our last two days of sharing, I know that God will continue to be present.  As we finish up our ministry here in Australia, I am looking forward to living out my ministry back home in Turlock.  It has been my prayer that God will teach me things about sharing his gospel that I may bring back with me and use at home.  My old college pastor emailed me my first week in Australia

I am excited for you to be in Australia - push yourself to live radically for Jesus - there is no better place to start than there.  Know one knows you, you will be leaving before you know it, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  You may find pushing the limits of what is comfortable for you is actually a lot of fun.

Thank you for your prayers, and I’ll be home sooner than you think.

Posted 1 year ago

Lunch With Louie

Today is Day With The Lord.  The purpose today is to devote six straight hours to spend with God and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  For me, I am looking forward to it in the sense that I have felt drained spiritually over the last few days, but at the same time I am dreading it because I have no idea what I am going to do six whole hours.  I start off going to a coffee shop to pray, read my Bible, and try to journal.  But after about two hours of that, I find myself checking my Facebook and drawing pictures in the margins of my journal.  What am I going to do for the last four hours?  I begin praying that God will somehow guide me to Him.

I decide to go to the park down the street and eat my lunch.  The park is massive, beautiful, and peaceful and I was thinking what better place to spend quiet time with the Lord.  A few minutes after I sit at a bench and started my lunch, a homeless man sits quietly next to me.  I try to start up small talk with the classic “lovely weather we’re having,” but he silently nods and lights a cigarette.  We awkwardly sit next to each other for what felt like forever until we introduced ourselves.  His name is Louie.  I gave him some chips and he offers me some smokes and Coca-Cola.  We talked off and on for the next forty minutes and it was the most filling conversation I’ve ever had with a stranger.

Louie tells me that he was born and raised in Argentina and moved to Melbourne so long ago that he couldn’t remember exactly when.  I guess when every day is just like every other day, you lose track of time.  I tell Louie that I am a Christian from the States to share God’s word with university students.  Next thing I know, Louie pulls out his Bible and says that he reads it every day.  I am immediately intrigued and ask what led him to reading the Bible.  He replies that about twelve or fifteen years ago he went through a bible study called Christianity Explained.  Fireworks are going through my head right now.  Christianity Explained is the same bible study course that the Campus Crusade movements in Australia use.  I am stoked.

I am reminded that my ministry and sharing the God’s love is not just confined to the campuses of La Trobe and RMIT Bundoora.  God definitely answered my prayers through Louie and I feel absolutely filled with the Holy Spirit.  I am excited that one day Louie will be my neighbor in Heaven.

Posted 1 year ago

Final Two Weeks

Wow.  It seems like my time in Australia has been shorter than it really has been.  It feels like the plane landed yesterday, but in reality this is my fourth week here.  It is weird to think that I have a little under two weeks left before I head back home to the states.  But at the same time, it feels like I’ve been here forever.  I feel like I’ve known my team for months if not years.  I am in a weird place about my Australia.  I am excited that God still has me here and that I believe He will continue to use our team to advance His kingdom.  I also am excited to go back home and use what I’ve learned to help out Monument and do some stuff on Stan State’s campus.  I apologize if it is a little to follow my train of thought, but I am honestly just typing my thoughts right now.

This last week of sharing on the university campuses have been good.  I’ve gotten into really good spiritual conversations with students and have even followed up with some folks.  More Aussie students are being turned toward Christ and today we received another brother in Christ.  I am still stoked to be serving here.  However, with this being the fourth week of essentially doing the same, I have felt spiritually drained over the last couple of days.  I have gotten myself into a Gospel sharing routine where I hand out the same surveys, ask the same questions, talk about the same subjects, and then say “catch ya later.”  The fact that I’m still having conversations is great, but over time every individual I talk to is morphed together into one person.  I can’t remember if a student’s name is John or James or Joel or Jack. I can’t remember if he is studying chemistry or philosophy or psychology or business.  It is frustrating and it is slowly wearing me down over time.  So I ask you, as my ministry partners, to pray that God may fill me up with his Holy Spirit and that He may rejuvenate me and keep me energized.

This last weekend, our team took a retreat out to a small town outside of Geelong called Barwon Heads.  It is an awesome little coastal town that marks the beginning of Australia’s Great Ocean Road.  The retreat was awesome.  It was a nice change of pace from the busy weeks of sharing and it helped re-energize me spiritually.  I am grateful for the weekend.

Now as I enter the final two weeks, it is important that become even more intentional with how I share the Gospel.  It is important that even though I may feel weak and tired, I need to rely on the Lord for strength.

So, here are the final few weeks of my trip in a nut shell.  This week and next week, we will be sharing the Gospel at the universities.  Monday, August 20, we fly out of Melbourne, land in LAX, and begin our debriefing.  Thursday, August 23, I drive home from LA.  Friday, August 24, I start school.  So please pray for strength in the upcoming week.  Thank you and God bless!

Posted 1 year ago

For lack of a better name: Week 3 in Australia

We have been sharing the gospel on the campuses for one full week as of Friday.  The first week was good, I had a lot of good spiritual conversations with the students my partners and I talked with.  It was awesome!  The more I shared the gospel, the easier it becomes to share without fumbling through my words.  I would by no means call myself an expert of sharing the gospel, but I know the gospel and am filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is really neat knowing that Spirit is inside of me and is helping me and giving me the words to say.  It started raining in the later part of last week, which made it hard to share with students.  The rain chased away a majority of the students, and the campus felt empty on Thursday and was a ghost town by Friday.  However, despite how hard it was to share, God still showed up and two students were led to Christ!

Even though today is Tuesday in Australia, this week had had it’s ups and downs with sharing already.  Yesterday was a difficult day to share.  I went out and shared with Jared.  We were stoked from last week’s success and leading students to Christ.  But within the first hour of sharing, we were rejected from conversations six times.  By the end of the day, we had a total of eight rejections and about two or three actual spiritual conversations.  The spiritual conversations we had were amazing and definitely gifts from God, but the rejections drained both of us.  It was frustrating, but I had to remind myself constantly that God still delights in us even if we get rejected because initiating a conversation is still a leap of faith.  The spiritual conversations we did have yesterday were pretty good.  One of the guys we shared the gospel with was really open to Christianity.  We went through the booklet and got the last page where it says there are two different ways you live your life: either live your life for yourself or live your life for God.  He realized that he was living his life for himself, but when we asked what he wanted his life to be, he was unsure.  Then he had to run to class.  All we can do is pray for him and hope we run into him later.

Today was a lot better day for sharing.  I had really deep conversations with three students.  One was with a Muslim, and he was super rad to talk to.  Part of having a conversation is just listening to what the other person has to say, and I actually learned quite a bit about the Islamic faith.  It was cool hearing the similarities between our two faiths, but the differences between our faiths kinda broke my heart.  Even though this guy was open to spiritual conversation, he was steadfast on his religion.  From what I could gather from the conversation was that he finds salvation through good works and is never sure if he is truly saved.  Muslims also believe that Jesus Christ never died on the cross, and that He was switched out someone else at the last minute.  This made it hard to share the gospel.  However, I still shared and we had a good conversation that lasted about an hour.

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
— Titus 3:3-7

Everyday I am here, I fall more in love with city, but there are things I do miss from home.  I miss my friends and family, I miss riding my bike, I miss skateboarding, I miss dollar menus.  Australian fast food places don’t have dollar menus.  It is killing me.  But I am still excited to be here in Melbourne city.  I am excited to see what God has in store for these last three weeks I have in Australia!

Posted 2 years ago

So here are some photos from my trip.  I know it is only four photos, and four probably isn’t enough for spending over a week in Australia, but I really am not one for taking pictures.  The picture taking is more for this guy in our group named Glenn.  He takes a lot of pictures.

Posted 2 years ago

Break My Heart for what Breaks Your’s

I have been in country for 9 days, and it is still amazing.  Everyday I wake up thinking “am I really in Australia?” and everyday I am excited.  Living in the city is absolutely nothing like living in Turlock and I am slowly adapting to this new environment.  I am learning the ways of the city-living like how to use trams and figure out what is the longest I can go without doing laundry.  Living in Melbourne city is great, but it is my team that makes it absolutely amazing.  I am excited that God chose this group of guys and gals.  We’ve only known each other for about two weeks, but we already bond together like one family.

We officially kicked off our ministry yesterday.  We split up into two groups: one went to RMIT Bundoora and the other (myself included) went to La Trobe.  Yesterday was my first time ever sharing the gospel at this level, and I was extremely nervous.  In fact, I didn’t talk much and left the initiating to my partner.  It was still great though.  I learned a lot about how to conduct the little surveys, initiate spiritual conversations, and effectively share my faith.  We got a few good spiritual conversations, but nothing really too deep.  Like I said in my last blog post, Australian students are very apathetic towards any type of spirituality.  A majority of the students are either atheistic or just don’t care about life after death, which makes it hard for talking about that stuff.

Today, our team split up between three campuses, the new campus being RMIT Brunswick.  I was in the group headed to the new campus!  RMIT Brunswick is an interesting university.  It is a super small school that specializes in graphic design and fashion.  I was a little intimidated because the students are primarily girls and they all dressed very well.  Also, the Brunswick campus has no established CRU movement, so we are basically starting from scratch.  However, we still had really great conversations with the students there.  I used a lot of what I learned yesterday and felt like it was a lot easier to share today!  We shared for about two-ish hours and I talked with six students in that time.  It.  Was.  Awesome!  The last guy I talked to, Hovig, was the president of the student union on all of the RMIT campuses, and we got really deep in conversation.  He was open to talking about what he believed and listening to what I believed.  He kept asking me questions about Christianity in general, my faith specifically, what it meant for him, and how to ensure a place in Heaven!  It was really cool to see God open up Hovig.  To be honest, I didn’t know what I was saying 75% of the time, but he seemed to understand me.  I guess that was the Holy Spirit.

Lately I’ve been thinking about why exactly I signed up for this trip.  To be honest, I am not exactly sure.  I know I wanted to get out of Turlock and explore the world.  I know God has given a heart for missions since my freshman year in high school.  But I didn’t know God would call me to go to a nice, clean, English-speaking city and just share the gospel; I sort of thought I would go to some third-world country and build houses.

This week I finished Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz.  Miller is one of my favorite Christian authors and this book really reshaped a lot of how I view my faith and my love towards God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  In his book, he talks a lot about living a life for God and what that would look like.

Dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something is the hard thing. Living for something extends beyond fashion, glory, or recognition. We live for what we believe.—Blue Like Jazz

Miller goes on and says that falling into the routine of Christianity is possibly the worst thing to do as a believer in Christ.  In fact, Satan rejoices when all a person does is just go to church and do the “Christian Thing.”  By getting into this routine, the Kingdom of Heaven is not expanding, God’s glory is not being shown, and Satan is having a party with the world.  I guess this has a lot to do with WHY I am in Australia right now.  In Matthew Jesus call us to “Go!” so I am going and spreading His name.

Posted 2 years ago

First Official Day

So it is about 4:45pm here in Melbourne, Australia. It is a little weird getting used to the time change, but I will get over that. We landed in Melbourne on Sunday at 9:30am (4:30pm on Saturday in California).  I haven’t done much in the city, but it is pretty cool.  Yesterday, after we landed we went on a scavenger hunt.  The city is pretty rad, there a lot of coffee shops, so I am excited about that!  The hostel we are staying at is really cool and it’s close to the tram station, which is what we will use to get to the universities where we will be outreaching to.  The two universities we will be at are La Trobe and RMIT Bendura.  La Trobe is is the bigger school with about 26,000 students while Bendura only has about 6,000.  So the schools are a little different.  I can’t wait to get started, but we won’t be on the campuses until next week.  This week will give us time to get used to the city, go over evangelism strategies, and do prayer walks on the campuses.  I am really excited.  This will be really my first to go out and intentionally share the gospel.

One thing I didn’t realize about this project is that Australian students are extremely apathetic towards spiritual stuff.  Aussies just never think about stuff like.  They are happy with what their lives are like now and don’t really look for change.  This immediately puts up a road block with trying to share Jesus to them, but anything is possible with God’s help.  Part of the purpose for this blog is not only keep you updated, but to also bring you things that you could start praying about.  So please pray that God will soften the hearts of the Australian students and that the Aussie students will be hungry for more than this world offer.  Thank you, and I will try to keep this blog updated as much as I can.

Posted 2 years ago

First Day of Briefing

What’s up LA!?!  I am so stoked to finally begin this journey.  Today is the first day of briefing for my trip to Australia.  I finally got to meet my family that I will chilling with for the next six or so weeks.  It is weird because until today the only interactions I had with any of these folks was through Facebook.  Right from the get-go, we were all being real with our pasts and who we are.  People were sharing their struggles, their triumphs, and their worries.  Already I am feeling a sense of community that only God can make.  I am stoked to be a part of this family!!

On my trip down to LA, this song came up a few times on my iPod.  The name of the song is “So Good To Us” by a band called Ascend the Hill.  They are pretty rad and are one of my favorite Christian bands.  Anyways, check this song out.  God really is so good to us.  He has prepared every member of this team for this trip.  Something big is going to happen and I can’t wait. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8li1jjRKjQ

Like I said, this week is a briefing before we head down under.  Every minute is pretty much accounted for through Thursday.  Briefing is going to be a bunch of logistics stuff about what the actual trip will look like as well as some team building stuff.  We fly out Friday night at 11:30pm, so we will have all of Friday to hang out and prepare for the 17 hour flight.  Yeah, it’s a 17 hour flight!

Ministry partners, thank you again for all of your prayers.  This trip would not have happened without faith in the living God.  Thank you!

Posted 2 years ago

I just want to thank all of you who have prayed and supported me as I prepare to go to Australia.  You folks are awesome.  Our God is awesome!  To get you up-to-date, I have met my goal of raising $5,600 and I am stoked.

When I first signed up for this trip, my biggest concern was raising enough money to be able to go.  Raising that much in under three months is quite intimidating, but I prayed and God answered.  This is definitely an act of God and there is NO way I would have been able to do this legally without Him.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

These last two months have been a huge test of my faith that God would provide for my need.  And not to mention that he answered quickly!  Even though I have raised what I needed, I do not know about any of the other people team.  Please pray that my teammates will meet their goals and that God will continue provide.

Thank you again for all of your prayers! I am excited (and a little scared) to see what God is going to do this summer.  I will do my best to keep this blog updated during my trip.

Australia countdown: 28 Days!

Posted 2 years ago

statebicycle:

“It never gets easier, you just go faster.” -Greg LeMond