The May 12th edition of ScotTopics gives us a glimpse of the busy life of our missionary host family in Venezuela. Take a few minutes to read Paul's Prayer and Praise topics...cause for celebration in the Toscana community, growing mission awareness from a prayer conference, an announcement about the Belmont team, and a number of specific prayer requests for familiy members.
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I don't believe I have had a mission team so ready and eager to go! You only have to read their journal entries to catch a glimpse of their excitement. There are nine more like Jenny, Brittany, Brooke, and Laura who wait for the experience. Now that exams are over their main focus is on the "call" to ministry.
The stage (itinerary/plans) is set, the platform (basketballs) packed, and the instruments of God's love and saving grace (students) are ready and waiting. My next entry will come as we are "on mission" in Venezuela.
What can I say…. This upcoming trip to Venezuela is the greatest privilege of my life. It’s just an incredible honor to be used by God especially at this time in my life. It will be my first mission trip on foreign grounds, which makes me very anxious to go away from what all I’m used to and learn about their culture and how God works through them. I’m excited that we can drop our differences and enter into God’s work as a unit. Telling others how they can have eternal life and the good news about God’s grace is going to be the greatest experience. I was made for a mission and to help finish God’s work here on earth. I know this will be an emotional experience for me and I’m very excited to go with this group.
Wow, so many thoughts are running through my head! I have been on three mission trips now, and from past experiences, I already know that this one will be even more different than the other ones. I have mixed feelings about this trip. I am both excited and sad. This will be my last mission trip with Belmont. However, I am very ready and willing to give myself away for Christ while I am on this trip. Like Brittany said, I am very excited about the team we are going with this year. Every person in this group has something different to offer and I am pumped to see what that is. I know that God is smiling down on us right now because he too is so excited to see what an impact we can make while we are over there! Every mission trip I have ever been on, I have come back learning something new about myself even though that is not my intentions. I am excited to see what God has in store for me this year. The time is approaching quickly... Woo Hoo!
I do not really know where to start…I guess I will just say that I am very excited about this trip! I was fortunate to be apart of the team that traveled to Ukraine last summer, and I must say that it was by far the most fulfilling and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was thrilled when I was asked to join the team for Venezuela this year; I thank God for another amazing opportunity.
As we prepare to leave, I still have no idea what to expect upon arriving in Venezuela- but that’s ok because it is all in God’s hands! I had no idea what was going to happen last year until I was told each morning and I felt like many were able to learn and see how God works in our lives. Having the chance to share God’s love is one of the most amazing gifts, especially with those who may have never had the opportunity to learn about Him. You never know how you might impact one’s life. It is awesome to see the bright smiling faces of so many children and know that God used you to make a difference in their lives. I hope and pray that we are able to, through the talents that each of us have been blessed with, share the love of God with all the people that we come in contact with. I am anxious to get to Venezuela and do that again this year!
Thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers ahead of time! God Bless!!!
Alright, this is only my second mission trip ever..and i am so excited. i traveled to Croatia last summer and it was a blast. This trip is going to be a bit different i anticipate. The excitement is leaning a bit towards not knowing what to expect when i get there and just wanting to help out as much as i can. The Lord has given me so much and everyone here on this team, and this is something that we can do to help out people who dont necessarily know the love of God and the wonders it can do. Like i said i am so pumped about this trip...its approaching so fast! The group we are going with couldn't be more ideal...they are so fun and encouraging...what more could you ask for! i pray that we can touch the hearts of many over in Venezuela and tell them about the ways that God has worked in our lives. I want to let them know that they can have a relationship with Jesus Christ...it is there waiting for them and i want to help them gain it! I am excited, nervous (goood nervous!), and hungry for this trip to come....so lets go! :)
Following a long standing tradition, the last sports evangelism team meeting before a mission trip is held at Betty Wiseman's home. Some came early and discovered some pretty fair fishing in the lake. Some arrived a little blurry eyed from a final exam and found a comfortable seat on the patio among friends. Most arrived hungry and found a feast of freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs.
Fun, food, and fellowship were followed by a time of focusing on the mission before us and how each of us can be better prepared for ministry. Betty spoke of the acolades that the basketball teams received this year and how that exposure shown a spotlight on each athlete, putting them on a pedestal. Then, she shared several verses from Act 21: "I served the Lord with great humility and with tears...if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." There will certainly be humbling moments on this trip as well as times where tears are a testimony to what is happening. Betty then asked the group to begin a journey of humility now, setting aside those personal acolades and focusing on the ministry opportunity before us, quoting 1 Timothy: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Each member found a place in Betty's living room and kneeled as Betty led in prayer.
With less than two weeks remaining before departure, there are still details to address...and those details can be as miniscule as counting out beads. Those beads and leather laces will be converted into simple cross shaped gifts to use as an object lesson for sharing the gospel. Small details...major impact.
Betty and four of this year's team gathered Friday morning for the bead counting project. The video on this post is just a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes activity that surrounds a mission trip...it is not the kind of thing that you'll see on the evening news, but it does illustrate that there are no 'unimportant details' and that there are jobs for anyone with a passion for ministry. You can count on seeing these same beads in future posts, and I'm willing to predict in advance that there will be smiles and inspiration attached.
If You Have Ever Wondered About 'Divine Appointments'...
Betty Wiseman speaks frequently about "Divine Appointments" on mission trips and asks team members to pray specifically for those times, somewhere in the future, when God connects you with a person who needs something that you are equipped to offer. Sometimes, that means sharing the gospel at a personal level, sometimes it is just a hug, sometimes it means going to 'one more school/church/playground' when you are already exhausted, sometimes it is no more than a friendly smile.Through all of these trips, team members learn not to question the importance of those connections but to just be keenly aware of what is going on when those opportunities arise.
This post may be the only one you will see that features Debbie. She isn't one of the tall, athletic-types that draw instant attention when they appear anywhere the team shows up...but Deb is definitely there. Somewhere in the background she is taking care of business, seeing that logistic details are covered, handing out a Tylenol, providing water, sewing on a button, or being her life-long resourceful, servant-leader self. The picture you see on the left was taken in 2005 in Koresten, Ukraine while the student athletes were playing volleyball and soccer with a group of church youth leaders. Debbie found herself in the middle of one of those Divine Appointments that Betty talked about. Sure, there were language barriers in this case, but the young Ukrainian women surrounding Deb found fellowship with an American visitor who shared a common love for knitting. Pretty amazing if you think about it. When Deb took needles and yarn on the trip, she had no thoughts that somehow that might lead to an opportunity for ministry. Her plan was to make a scarf during some of the quieter moments. Before this particular day was over, one of these women smiled and waved at the departing bus, holding a set of Deb's knitting needles. All of the women parted, understanding their common faith with a deeper appreciation of how big the familiy of God is...something that probably woudn't have happened if Deb had not been in that specific place at that specific time, half-way around the world.
May 15th is our departure date for Maturin, Venezuela where we will be working with career missionaries, Paul and Shelley Scott. This venture into South America began over a year ago with a request from the TBC Partnership Missions Department in celebration of their 25th Anniversary of Partnership Missions. All previous partnerships of the TBC have requested a team from Tennessee to come and minister during this year of celebration. Missionaries in Maturin, Venezuela requested a Belmont Sports Evangelism Team. I met with Paul Scott, this year's missionary host, prior to last year's trip to the Ukraine and agreed to bring a team of Belmont athletes to use basketball as a platform for sharing Christ. This will be a "first" for the Scott's to host a sports evangelism team.
Regular year-long communication with Paul and Shelley by email and phone has generated added excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead. It is obvious that First Baptist Church of Maturin and local lay leaders have been working hard to formulate plans and lay the groundwork for our ministry.
"You will be going into various communities throughout our stay using the uniqueness of your 'platform' to draw on the community's curiosity and provide a willing audience to the Gospel that otherwise would have been a closed door. Your presence is the key to the witness. They will ask 'Why would these gringos spend their time and money to come all the way down here just to tell us about Jesus?" Paul Scott IMB Missionary - Venezuela
Our team has been meeting periodically since early February to get all paperwork in order, travel documents ready, and passports in hand. Team members are enlisting prayer partners as they prepare themselves spiritually for the "call" to ministry. Prior to exams the team will have a meeting at BW's house for final instructions, encouragement, and challenge. Departure time is 6:58 a.m. on the morning of May 15.
In less than a month, Belmont's 2006 Sports Evangelism Team will be on location approximately 250 miles east of Caracas, Venezuela in the city of Maturin. The 16 athletes and staff on this trip will work with IMB missionaries in several area locations holding clinics, sharing testimonies, participating in worship services, and providing whatever support that is needed.
We Need Your Help:
We invite you to be a part of this year's team by reading The Venezuela Journal while the team is in Venezuela. You may receive regular email notices when new entries are made to the jounal by completing a short subscription form (see GET UPDATE NOTICES BY EMAIL in the right hand column of the home page).
Beneath each story on the journal is a link for Comments... your encouraging words always mean a lot to the team during and after these mission trips. Please take a moment to share your thoughts with the team, it is as easy as completing a simple form and hitting the Post button.
Most of all, we covet your prayers for the safety, health, and ministry opportunities on this trip. Conditions in this region of the world (particularly the temperature) may be taxing on athletes and keeping everyone in good shape for ministry needs to be a priority in prayer.
Thank you, to all of you who have provided support for this trip, whether that has been financial, planning, prayer, or logistics!