“This I Believe”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This is just one of the many verses that I was initially “forced” to learn as a part of my pre- mission trip to the Philipines this summer. My immediate reaction was my typical “what a waste of summer vacation” response. I assumed that this trip would just be identical to every other youth group retreat that I had ever been to, filled with many fantastically dull activities and incredibly numb group sessions. Consequently, these were my original feelings going into the trip. I believe that my God has the power to turn the most unlikely doubter into a messenger that can change lives.
I was baptized at the age of 12 at Sugar Grove Church of Christ, the same church I have attended since I was about 4. I became a part of the youth group in the 7th grade which is what I am currently still a part of. Naturally, when my youth minister mentioned the idea of a mission trip, I was immediately signed up by my mom. Looking back on it, I am not sure why I was looking down upon going so vigorously because I had never traveled out of the country before and I was finally getting the chance to do it. Through lots of preparation and extensive fundraisers, we raised enough money so that I could go to the Philipines. Then, on June 30th, we were on our way to the foreign country of the Philipines with our final destination being the island of Leyte. We took two days to recuperate from the jet lag we had experienced from the 32 hours of flight time. Then we instantaneously began our outreach work wandering the streets and inviting the odd short people to our Bible seminars that we held at a local college. The first days were brutal getting used to no hot showers and the extreme humid climate but my team persevered. The entire trip changed on the 5th day we were there. I met a girl named Emalyn through a Bible study that I had conducted at a seminar one night and I ended up studying with her for the next several days. Both of her parents were major Catholics and so she had many questions because Catholicism contradicts the majority of what I was telling her. Then after our studies I was shocked to be notified that she wanted to be baptized by me into Jesus. This was a very significant event for me and the highlight of my entire mission trip. I was a little nervous since it was my first time to christen someone into Jesus, but what I felt is an emotion that is indescribable. “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins”, were the magic words I exclaimed to her before I dunked her into the grace of God. Emalyn told her parents what she had done and they disowned her completely, stopping their payments for her to continue college. Luckily, the church in Baybay is now her home and source of financial support. She is now an active Christian who is now responsible for teaching others the Word which she does on a daily basis.
Emalyn and I have kept in touch ever since I arrived home on July 15th. The trip was truly a turning point in my faith and in my relationship with God. It feels ecstatic to know that someone that I taught has also converted other people into Christ. My life will forever be changed and I am thankful that I was blessed with the opportunity to serve.
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