Update 1

This personal update is about my relationship with the team. I have a privilege of serving alongside 13 others on this missions trip. So far, 7 of them have left Taiwan. Unlike my last missions trip, I knew each of the team members fairly well even before missions training started. Half of them I had gone through college with. Others, I had served with in the college ministry. And some, I had developed good relationships with through various ministries at EBCB. All of them I gladly call friends, and some of them I can even call my closest friends on this earth. I was excited to go with these brethren.

The first thing I noticed about us as a team: we are all astoundingly different. We uniquely define and span a 14 dimensional space for personalities. Wow. I just realized how amazingly nerdy that was. But it's still a pretty good analogy, I think. Anyways, even though we are all extremely different, I actually am surprised at how well we mesh and get along. While I'm not saying that we love each other perfectly—there have been a fair share of misunderstandings and confrontations that required reconciliation, and graciousness is a required quality for true peace — but still, I praise the Lord for each and every team member. All of them are willing to serve, joyful in the Lord, quirky, quick to listen, understanding, and fun to laugh with (and at). All of them are equipped to share the gospel well, have a comprehensive understanding of theology of the gospel, and I trust each of them immensely. We are united in mind, spirit, purpose, and love.

As a team co-leader, I couldn't ask for anything else. To be frank, during the weeks leading up to the missions trip, I prayed earnestly and fretted constantly about team dynamics. Would we be united in faith and by our love demonstrated that Jesus is worthy of following? Would we serve one another in sacrificial agape love so that unbelievers would see that we have been transformed by divine and not human power? Would we love the church so that they would be encouraged and not let down? Would we devour and sin against each other? I'm proud to say that the Lord has blessed us immensely, in that we have, by His grace, striven for true fellowship and love. Strife was quickly diffused, and dissension gave way to sweet times of forgiveness and fellowship. Praise the Lord! He gives abundant grace to His children.

My personal relationship with the team has been sort of a paradox. I'm 22, but about 80% of the team is either my age or older. Many have been in the faith much longer than me, and I don't feel like I can 'lead' them. Yet, I am required to set their schedule, make decisions that will impact their life, give judgement calls, and be the point person for wisdom issues. I'm responsible for ministering to each one of them uniquely, for keeping tabs on their spiritual life and physical stamina, for encouraging them in their faith and ministry. Just who do I think I am? I just graduated college a little over a month ago; I've never been responsible for this many souls for this long; I have never been required to be in 'servant-mode' for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for two months straight!

The Lord has used this month to show me, once again, that His ways are higher than mine. He does not desire leaders that competent or adequate or skillful or accomplished. He looks for the humble, and raises them up to do things that they never dreamed of doing. I didn't seek out to lead the team; when missions training started, I actually told one brother that I would prefer not to because I didn't think I was ready for it. Yet, God knows best, and in His wisdom I am a leader of this team. I'm not really sure why. But, regardless of whether I understand it or not, may glory be to Him.

Thank you for praying for this team as a whole, and for the team members individually. We need the Lord's help, and your support. Please pray that the team members who have already left would serve the Lord Jesus Christ wherever they are, keep diligent in their spiritual disciplines, love their local church, and pray fervently for future missions opportunities. For those who are still here, please pray that the glory of our Savior would compel us to love preaching the gospel and drive us to plead with many to be saved.

And for me, please pray that the Lord would humble me. Foolishly, I trust in myself and try to micromanage as if this team were my team and not the Lord's. Pray that the Lord would give me wisdom from above to make God-honoring decisions for the team. Pray that I would consider myself the least of all of them and serve each and every one of them wholeheartedly like Jesus did while He was on earth. And pray that I would defer to the True Shepherd of the flock, our Wonderful Counselor and the Holy One of God — Jesus Christ our Lord.