Divine Appointment

Hello everyone!

God is AMAZING! During Slaying the Giants week, we all set goals for evangelism; how many conversations we wanted to initiate, how many gospel presentations we would do, and one extra “giant” that we wanted to slay. On Saturday afternoon, I went out sharing with a friend of mine on project by the name of Dan. We talked to quite a few people, and at first Dan did the initiating and going through the gospel, but since I only had one more person to go through the gospel with to reach my goal, we started looking for some girls that I could initiate and share the gospel with. Within minutes, dark clouds swept over the sky, blocking out the sun. One of the sudden downpours that never cease to amaze me by their sheer randomness was on it’s way. People began packing up and leaving, and we weren’t finding anyone. Thunder rolled, and I glanced up at the sky. It looked like it would start raining any minute.

“Lord, don’t let it rain until Emily shares the gospel with one more girl!” Dan prayed. We kept on walking. There was an exodus of people heading back to their hotels, and no groups of girls anywhere.

 Thunder rumbled again, and discouraged, I told Dan, “I don’t think we’re going to find anyone Dan, and it’s going to rain any minute. “
 “If you pray with faith, God will answer!” He then prayed, “Lord, thank you for holding back the rain until Emily can share with one more girl!”

Could God really do that? I wondered. Yes, He could, but would he? I took a deep breath and prayed silently, “God, please hold back the rain, and give me one more opportunity to share the gospel. I believe you can if you want to.” I remembered the passage in Mark that I’d read recently for Bible study. “I do believe, help my unbelief!” I looked up the beach, and there, sitting absorbed in a magazine, oblivious to the threatening clouds overhead, sat one college-age girl. “Dan! Look over there!” I could hardly contain my excitement.
“Go for it!” Dan really didn’t seem too surprised.

We introduced ourselves, and explained that we were with Campus Crusade for Christ and were doing surveys on the beach. “I do not speak much English,” she replied with a thick accent. “Could you say that again?” Oh man, I thought, how can we share the gospel with someone who doesn’t speak English? Then again, God, you led us to her, help her to understand! Slowly, we worked through the survey questions, discovering that her name was Carol, and that she was an exchange student from Brazil. In response to the last question, “On a scale from one to ten, rate your desire to know God,” she answered a ten. As I pulled out the gospel booklet, the dark clouds above us rumbled threats of an imminent downpour. I looked at Dan, silently begging him to pray. He smiled back, totally undisturbed. I don’t know how we got through the booklet exactly; I can’t explain how she was able to understand it in English when her native language was Portuguese; all I know is that we went through the entire gospel with Carol, and SHE UNDERSTOOD. At that point, she wasn’t ready to make a decision, but we exchanged phone numbers and invited her to church the next morning and our weekly meeting on Thursday. As Dan and I were walking away, a few raindrops hit the sand around us. When I arrived at the apartment and shut the door behind me, the skies opened, and the rain poured down.

Talk about incredible! We prayed in faith, and even though mine was weak, God heard and answered! But the story doesn’t stop there! That night I called Carol to see if she wanted to come to church with us, but she said it was too early in the morning for her, but she would call me Thursday and maybe come to the weekly meeting. I was skeptical. I assumed that was the last time I’d hear from Carol, and just prayed that God would use our conversation on the beach and the booklet we’d given her to continue to work in her heart.

Thursday afternoon, I was astounded to receive a text message from Carol! Unfortunately, she had to work on Thursday night, nannying the children of her host mom. But, she still wanted to get together again. One day I was in the office, and on the rack of booklets, I found some that looked like Spanish, but I found out they were actually Portuguese!

On Friday, I was exhausted after a long and difficult day at work, so I texted her and asked if she’d be available Saturday or Sunday afternoon to go get ice cream. She responded that she had to leave early Saturday morning, and this was her last day of vacation here. I felt completely drained, but I prayed that God would just give me the courage and the energy to meet with her that day, and it worked out for both of us to meet an hour later. We went to the donut shop where I work and ordered ice cream, and since I’d asked her to bring pictures of Brazil, she brought her laptop and showed me pictures of her family and friends in Sao Paulo and Rio de Geniero on her laptop, and I showed her pictures of my family and friends from Iowa from my digital camera. Her pictures were WAY more interesting! At least, they were to me, but she really enjoyed the pictures of my last family vacation to South Dakota. We talked almost three hours, and then she remembered that she had to be back at her hotel for dinner at six. I was able to give her the Portuguese booklet and take a picture with her before we parted ways.

So, continue to pray for Carol! Pray that God continues to work in her life, and then uses her to reach her family and friends at home in Brazil, her school in Pennsylvania, and in Australia, where she hopes to study in the future.

Well, there’s much more I could write about, but I think I’ll save it for another blog!
Thanks for your prayers!

Emily

Slaying the Giant Week

Hello friends and family!

We competed in a cooking contest. I’m cutting onions.

Job Developments 
It’s now week two of project! God has done amazing things over the last two weeks, one of which is providing me with a job! Tuesdays are outreach nights, when as a project we go out to different areas around town and initiate conversations that hopefully lead to the gospel. Well the Tuesday night last week, my Bible study was sent to Main Street, so my roommate Laura and I walked up and down and around, trying to find people to talk to. We chased down one lady, but as we were going through the quest survey questions and said the word “Christian,” she said, “You lost me there,” and walked away. We tried to talk to two more girls, but they told us they weren’t interested either. As we continued up the street, we came across a couple standing outside of a restaurant. We said hello, and struck up a conversation. They said that their friends had just opened the restaurant, and were giving free samples inside. After talking with them a little more, we explained that we were with Campus Crusade for Christ. Come to find out, they were very familiar with the organization and actually hired a few students every year at one of the Dunkin Donuts they opperated. They asked if we had jobs, and Laura already did, but I told them that I hadn’t been hired yet. They took us inside and introduced us to the couple that owned the shop. They told me that they didn’t think they would actually need any help, especially full time, but they took my name and number anyway. After talking with them for a while, I discovered that they were actually a Christian couple, and they had many amazing stories of God’s provision as they opened their first coffee and donut shop. Well, only a few hours later, I got a call from them saying that they’d talked it over and wanted to hire me, and they wanted me to come in the next morning for work! I actually cried, it was such an amazing example of a divine appointment! I get to work with two Christian bosses who treat me like a part of their family….not to mention I get to sell donuts! It’s a very fun job; we sell coffee, sweet tea (of course!), smoothies, milkshakes, donuts, bagels, and soon we’re going to add sandwiches. It’s been great to see the business grow. The first few days were kind of iffy, but we’re doing pretty well now. Please continue to pray for my employers as they seek to use their finances wisely.

Outreach
That same outreach night, we finally gave up on Main Street and went to the beach, where we began talking to two ladies digging for shells in the sand. We didn’t even go through the survey questions with them, we told them why we were here, and then we pretty much just listened for the rest of the time while they told us their stories. They were both believers, but had rejected organized religion because of the hypocrisy they saw in the church. One lady, Janelle, was an evangelist who works with charities for homeless people, and she was struggling with a lot of doubts about not only the church, but even God and Christianity, as a result of the unkindness she’d experienced at the hands of other Christians. We honestly didn’t say much the entire conversation, except to try to encourage her in her walk with Christ, but mostly we just listened with compassion. Janelle begged us to pray for her, and we did so, and at our sharing time afterwards asked the rest of the students to be in prayer for her also. So I would like to ask you readers to take a moment now and ask for God’s truth to cut through the entangling lies of Satan that are dragging Janelle down into doubt and disbelief.

The rest of the week was full of activities with our impact group (a guy’s Bible study that’s teamed with us), work, discipleship, and outreach. Our discipleship times include outreach, or sharing, as we call it, on the beach, but for most of the week it I really didn’t get into any good conversations. For some reason, I just felt like my heart wasn’t in it. My daily quiet times were distracted and unfocused, and I was struggling with impatience. Also, the high school seniors have arrived in full force to drink and party for a week. They’re all around us, and literally everywhere, which was very overwhelming at first.

We got honorable mention for our table decor (my idea! yes!)

Slaying the Giants
The staff men take turns preaching for our meetings, and on Sunday night Mike spoke on the story of David and Goliath. I’ve heard that story preached on countless times before, but once again it convicted me of my own fear of the giants in my life. His challenge to us was to make an evangelism goal for the next week which included a number of initiated conversations, gospel presentations, and then one extra area that was a big “giant” of fear for us that we would slay through the power of the Holy spirit. He asked us, “If you had one week to share the gospel, what would that week look like? Act as if this were that week.”

As challenging as that was, on Monday I still didn’t take the initiative to find people to go sharing with. Tuesday night, outreach night, I went sharing with a staff member. We talked to two ladies on the beach, one who was obviously a believer and a Lutheran, and her niece who was Baptist, but was going through a lot of struggles. We gave them tracts, and Marge, the Lutheran lady, was very excited because a few of her grandchildren were coming to visit soon and she planned to share the gospel with them using the tracts. It’s amazing how the gospel can mushroom!

After that conversation, we really couldn’t engage anyone in conversation for a very long time, and I started feeling really discouraged. I started wondering, “Why am I here? God, I thought you brought me here to share the gospel, so why aren’t you leading us to anyone?” Just as I was thinking that, the staff lady I was with, Sherri, began asking me questions about what lead me to decided to come to North Myrtle summer project. Having to think through the events that lead up to it and all the reasons I was excited to come really rejuvenated me and pumped me back up. Then we turned the corner and met up with a woman and her daughter and daughter’s best friend. We went through our survey questions with them and briefly covered part of the gospel, and from their answers I really believe that they were believers, but they just didn’t use the common terms that we were used to. They were also really excited to receive the booklets from us!

Yesterday as part of my discipleship time I went sharing with my discipler, Kim, and one of my roommates, Becky, and as we arrived at the beach we took turns praying. Kim prayed that God would guide us to some girls with open hearts that we could connect well with, and not ten seconds after she said “amen,” we spotted two girls sitting by themselves. Kim told us that Becky and I were going to have to initiate and do everything, and she’d just be there to help if we needed it. She also told me that I should go throught the booklet with them, not knowing that that was actually my giant for the week. So when we got close I started the conversation, and it just took off. They talked to us for a few minutes before we could even explain why we were there! They were more than happy to take the survey, so we sat down with them and began going through the questions.

We connected with them right away. They were both so friendly and sweet, and really, really talkative! It took us a while to get through the survey, and in answer to the last question, “From 1 to10, rate your desire to know God,” they both answered with an emphatic 10. One of the girls, Rita, said she’d actually been thinking about it for the last month. So from there I began going through the booklet with them, with plenty of insights from Becky and Kim. They had so many questions, and so much to say about every point, it took us an hour and a half to get to the prayer! I was wondering a few times, “God, how are we going to bring this conversation back around to the booklet?” But He always made a way!

 By the time we got to the prayer, they both had a very clear understanding of the gospel, and both realized that they needed to take that step, but they were not quite ready to yet. It was a little sad, because I really thought they were going to, but they are really, really close. We invited them to our meeting on Thursday night, which is tonight, and they both wanted to come and bring their friends. They really want to hang out with us more, so I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get together with them again. Their names are Rita and Julie. They’re both from a Catholic background, and are here to party with their senior class for the week. Pray that God will have his hand on them for safety, and also that he will keep convicting them through the Holy Spirit, so that they would take that step of faith and give their lives to Christ. They are both so close!

Every student must choose a ministry team to be a part of, either the community team, weekly meeting team, worship team, prayer and world vision team, outreach team, or operations team. The students in the praise bands are automatically on the worship team, and every Impact group has to have at least one person on every team, and not more than two per team. Prayer and World Vision was my first and only choice, and I’m very excited to serve on it. Our first meeting is tonight, and we’re going to plan some activities to motivate students to be in prayer, and give them a heart for the world!

Please be in prayer for me, that I won’t get discouraged, and also that I’ll meet my goals for initiating conversations and presenting the gospel this week.

I’ve lately been struggling a little also because I feel like many of the messages are things I’ve heard before, and they’re over things I already know and understand. Our Bible study is great, I’ve enjoyed SO much digging into the book of Mark with my roommates and discipler each week, and I’m learning so much from that, and we have binders full of materials on tons of different topics which is very helpful, but I feel like sometimes the messages with the whole group aren’t applicable for me, which isn’t the right attitude to have. I should be able to take something away from every service, no matter who’s preaching or how well they preach, so I know I just need an attitude adjustment, and maybe I just need to listen harder and dig a little further into the passage or topic until I find something more.

Psalm 67 is our theme passage for the Prayer and World Vision team, and I would like to include it here as a prayer that really expresses our desire for the high school students and other people we meet here. We want the whole earth to have a chance to hear the gospel! Pray that we will have compassion for these shepherdless masses, just like Jesus does.

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face shine upon us,

Selah 2 that your ways may be known on earth,

your salvation among all nations.

3 May the peoples praise you, O God;

may all the peoples praise you.

4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you rule the peoples justly

and guide the nations of the earth.

Selah

5 May the peoples praise you, O God;

may all the peoples praise you.

6 Then the land will yield its harvest,

and God, our God, will bless us.

7 God will bless us,

and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Amen! Praise God that through him, we already have the victory! Have a great week, and please keep in touch with me! I’d love to hear what God is doing in your lives too!

In Christ,
Emily

First Week in North Myrtle!

Dear family and friends,

After surviving rush hour traffic in downtown Chicago, tricky I-pass lanes, torrential rains and fog through the night over the Smokey Mountains, and drivers who like to go over the speed limit, we arrived safely in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last Wednesday, an hour before registration started! The trip was a blast; I became much better acquainted with the students driving down from Iowa State after spending two days in a car together, and also the students who joined us on the trip from North Dakota State, University of Iowa, and Kansas. God was certainly watching out for us as we never got lost or had any car problems or incidents, other than driving through the I-pass lane outside of Chicago.

I quickly realized that the weather here wasn’t exactly what I expected. It rains, suddenly, furiously, and completely without warning, so it’s always incredibly humid. The humidity makes it seem much hotter than it really is. Being as close to the beach as we are, we do get a nice breeze off the ocean, which helps a lot.

Speaking of the ocean, it’s spectacular! I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean, and here it is truly amazing. I haven’t had time to swim or even lay out on the beach yet, but hopefully I’ll get to that this afternoon.

I have been on the beach, however. We went “sharing” Thursday and yesterday on the beach. Both times we got into good conversations with people, and twice we were able to go completely through the gospel with them. They were very open and interested; one woman had trusted Christ but was having doubts about her salvation, and we were able to encourage her in that, and three other college sophmore girls just didn’t have a clear understanding of what the gospel was, and that it was through Christ alone that we come to God, and not our works. I truly believe that they understood what Christ had done for them by the end of our conversation, and it’s in God’s hands what they choose to do now. We know that we are 100 percent successful if we take the initiative to step out in faith and plant the seed!

Right now everyone is very busy trying to find jobs. With 94 students this year, and a tough economy, it’s been more challenging than past years, but we are confident that God will provide. I have several applications out, and I’m still waiting to hear back. I don’t need to start being concerned until Tuesday, but I would greatly appreciate your prayers about this. We really want to find jobs that can be mission fields for the gospel and practical places to show Christ’s love and the difference he’s made in our lives.

I’m living in a small apartment with 6 other girls, all from different schools. Four of us are in one room, and two in another. Luckily, we have two bathrooms! And we have several girls who are very good at organizing. Unfortunately, one of my apartment mates has pink eye, so we’re all rather concerned, especially since another girl in my room thinks she may be getting it now too. So I would appreciate your prayer about that too, just that we would stay healthy and not infect the entire project.

I’m very excited about the things I’ll be learning, and I know I’m already learning a lot about cooperation and patience! I’ve also notice my tendency to complain! I know God will keep working on me in these areas over the next ten weeks.

God really blessed me last night by giving me an opportunity to encourage someone who really needed it. Late Friday night I woke up at the sound of someone crying. Through our thin apartment walls, the phone conversation one of my roommate was having in the bathroom carried into my room, and from that I gathered that she had just broken up with her boyfriend of several months. My heart immediately went out to her, having known that pain that broken relationships cause, I can’t imagine facing it far from home and surrounded by strangers. I noticed the next day that she wouldn’t eat anything, and spent most of the time in her room. I was really struggling with how to approach this, because I’m not particularly skilled with dealing with girls. I planned to find our discipler and tell her what was going on, and ask her to go talk to her, but as the day wore on I never got a chance to pull her aside. I strongly felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to talk to my roommate, so last night when everyone else was at the park playing in or watching a softball game, I went back to our apartment and, scared to death, knocked on her door. I didn’t have to say much, just that we were here for her and cared about her, and shared some of my experiences with her. After some tears and hugs, I left her with a good friend of hers. She’s doing much better today, but continue to remember her in your prayers, as this will continue to be a difficult time for her. Please pray that God will continue to use me to encourage her and others as well, and that I will respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and not let my fear stop me.

One more cool story of God’s awesomeness, and then I’ll wrap up this lengthy update. Late last night, several Campus Crusade students and I were out on the beach, throwing around a frisbee or just talking, when we noticed a growing number of people with flashlights. I assumed they were looking for clams or shells, but Dan, a student from Kansas, stopped and asked them what they were looking for. “A four-year old boy,” the man replied. He had gone missing about 15 minutes before. Quickly, we spread the word to the other Campus Crusade students, and before searching we gathered in a circle and said a prayer for the boy, and for his family. This area is known for it’s deadly rip-tides, and in the dark, it’s especially treacherous. We split into two groups and headed in different directions down the beach, calling his name. Not two minutes after we had prayed, word was passed down the beach that the boy was found. Not only that, but another group of Cru students farther down the beach had stopped and prayed at exactly the same time we did, and estimating the time it took for the news to spread, he couldn’t have been found more than seconds after we prayed. God’s power and sovereignty amaze me.

So with that said, I’ll leave you with the scripture passage God gave me during my morning devotions on Thursday: 2 Thess. 3:1-5.
1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Amen to that! I’d love to hear from you all! Thank you for your support and prayers! Enjoy your Sunday afternoon!

In Christ,
Emily

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