Mission Immersion, a ministry of Nazarene Missions International (NMI), is held every two years in a different country for high school students from around the globe who have a definite call to serve in a culture other than their own.
In July 2012, 42 youth from the U.S., Canada, Europe and South Africa met in Kenya for more than a week of mission simulation and learning within the cross-cultural context. Several youth wrote about their first-hand experiences for Engage magazine. Click on the stories below to read them in order.
Nairobi, Kenya -- If you send 42 teenagers into a third-world country and ask them to tell strangers about the love of God, it could end in two ways: a complete fail or an absolute work of God.
On Tuesday, July 17, our Mission Immersion team headed to several slums across Nairobi for Ministry and Evangelism Day.
The feelings rising in each student as we headed out to engage in personal evangelism varied from excitement to panic. Thankfully, it was not the students speaking, but rather the Holy Spirit working through us in the most radical way.
As we opened up to allowing God to use us to move mountains, a spiritual earthquake began in the heart of Nairobi.
Speaking with courage
"Going into today, I was apprehensive because I had not put myself out into evangelism to that degree, but I was super excited," said Michael Aper, 17 from Arizona, who later went to the Woodley neighborhood in the Kibera slum.
Being Michael's first experience with door-to-door evangelism, he was not sure how to approach an opportunity to witness in this way. However, when the students spread around the Africa Nazarene University (ANU) campus to share their testimonies, the Lord took control within Michael as he approached a security guard standing in the road. Michael knew “God was calling me to speak to him.”
Michael began by introducing himself to the security guard, Peter, and told Peter his testimony. After hearing Michael's testimony, Peter replied, "I want to be one of you." Michael immediately prayed with Peter. Afterward, Peter asked for Michael's phone number so he could call Michael once he had become "one of them." Michael replied, "No, it's going to happen right now." So Peter prayed at that very moment, in the street, to accept the Lord into his heart and begin a relationship with Him.
Peter followed the prayer by telling Michael, "Tell your friends I'm one of you."
This powerful moment was transformative for both of them. In Michael's first experience of personal evangelism, God demonstrated the power that He instills within each of us when we open our hearts to serving Him.
Michael reflects on this moment, saying, "Being told to begin a conversation with a complete stranger based on faith tested me a lot, but it proved to me the power and unique effectiveness of what God is doing in everyone and it encouraged me to do it on a regular basis because that's what we're supposed to be doing."
Evangelism Day also helped to reconfirm Michael's call to serve the Lord in Ministry.
A ‘touchy subject’
Like many of the Mission Immersion team, Jonathan Stark, 17, was feeling "a lot of different emotions." Like Michael, it was also his first time sharing Christ with people he’d never met before.
“In the beginning, I didn't like this direct style of evangelizing because I prefer starting a relationship with someone before talking about such a touchy subject, like any religion, let alone a relationship with God.”
Jonathan began his journey through the slum of Kibera, feeling reluctant and nervous as he approached a group of children. He told about God’s plan of salvation through Christ using his EvangeCube, then followed this with prayer. Although nervous he would mess up, Jonathan realized he did much better than he expected. As he left Kibera, he was filled with excitement about the overwhelming interest the children had in learning about Jesus.
“My perspective switched a lot from the beginning of the day when I didn't know how much good it was going to do, but at the end of the day I know at least one life was permanently changed and that's by far worth it."
Staying to go
We had hesitated at what seemed like an outrageous idea of evangelizing in such a direct fashion, but now I look around my cozy comfort zone and long to be back in the darkness leading the way. I personally have devised many plans in my head for ways I could travel back to Nairobi and serve there as soon as possible. But there is so much ahead of me, as with each Mission Immersion student, that must be accomplished before we can go.
So I am asking myself this: What if God wants to use me right here where I am? I do not have to be in a poverty-stricken, developing country, working with a translator to share the word of God. I believe God can use each student right now, wherever our home is, just as mightily as He did in the heart of Nairobi. We can prepare our hearts for cross-cultural missions by pouring out that same love and compassion in our own communities, right now.
On July 17, God took many students into a broken world to experience what was for many of them their first dose of personal evangelism. But on that day, young lives were built up to prepare the way for the kingdom of God. Our mission didn't stop when we returned from Nairobi on Sunday, July 22. Our mission has just begun, and now we are taking that experience and sharing it in Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, and every region of the United States of America.
1 Timothy 4: 12 says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
I'm telling you now: get ready. God is preparing a generation of students who will rise up in triumphant obedience to God, serving Him in all nations with selfless hearts. We are working in our communities all over the world, preparing ourselves for the day that He says, "Go forth and make disciples in this nation." Right now, "go" may mean serving here in our communities as we further our education and mature in our faith, but we are ready with a loud response: "Lord, send THIS disciple."