The following are a few excerpts from journal entries submitted to Texas Baptists by Crystal, a senior at the University of Mary Hardin–Baylor. In them, she briefly shares about her expereince spending time with Asian university students while serving on a Go Now Missions team with three other students in East Asia during the Christmas holidays.
Dec. 20 – It’s crazy how dark it feels here, from the moment the plane landed. My heart breaks for the people here because it’s as if they are living so independently. I never imagined spiritual darkness would feel like this. I am anticipating the Lord is doing some awesome things here and I can’t wait to see it first-hand.
Dec. 22 – We met the students today. They are very kind and open to us coming in. They treat us like movie stars! The way they cater to our needs and help us out has made me feel special and treasured. It makes me want to treat those around me better because they are treasured creations of God. If the students can treat us so well without the love of God in them, then how much better am I called to treat others? Romans 3:10-12, Colossians 3:12
Not being able to fully communicate has been humbling and has made me observe and discern situations and people rather than to immediately talk. Because I only know “hello” and “thank you,” my conversations within the community are limited.
Dec. 23 – The college is having a “Foreign Festival,” where students study cultures around the world. This was perfect timing for us to come and exchange cultures. We split up into the classrooms and the teachers let us teach about American culture. Because Christianity is just a western religion in their eyes and the proximity to Christmas, we shared the entire story of how Jesus was born and why he came.
I could not believe we were able to share the Gospel in an [Asian] classroom. Many students had never heard it before, so they had a lot of questions. Those that had heard it before mostly thought it was a good fairytale. In the afternoon, we played sports with the students and they invited us up to the dorm rooms to hang out. Building trust with the students is vital because if it is not there, they will be less inclined to accept the messages we share.
Dec. 24 – Today, we had a lot of one-on-one time with our new friends. In my personal conversations, I got to talk about the joy that comes from a relationship with Christ. Many of the students have the perception that American life is great and perfect because it is busy and we have a lot of things. Their perception of the western world is bliss. I explained to them that there is much sadness and lostness in the U.S. as well.
It made me ponder the fact that brokenness looks different here in Asia than it does in the States, however the concept is similar. A life without Christ is hopeless. I am so thankful for the “joy, joy, joy down in our hearts” that a relationship with the everlasting Father brings to his children. It’s funny how experiences in life build on themselves. The little songs we sang in Sunday School and the verses we memorized in Awanas have stuck with me for years, and many surfaced during the trip.
I expected Christmas Eve would be difficult to spend away from home, but I don’t regret being here during this time. It is a critical season and an open door to share the birth of Christ with those that have never heard. One especially amazing thing happened tonight. One of our friends, Steve*, came up to me after class.
He said, “I know Christmas is important to you in America so I want to take you to church.” Steve and 11 other students walked me and another girl on my team to a nearby registered church where we watched the Christmas story and the students translated it to us. It allowed us to talk about whether they believed it to be true.
One student accepted Christ as his personal savior on Christmas Eve, and we believe many other seeds were planted.
Dec. 25 – We celebrated Christmas in the classroom singing carols, doing word puzzles and just hanging out with our new friends. Relationship-building is awesome!
I also learned today of the religious persecution in Asia with the underground, Spirit-filled church. It is scary to think about. One man had his finger cut off right there on the spot when the government found out he had started a house church. The government is in control of so much. But the Lord is still at work here! The Spirit is strong in Asia. I am very grateful for the religious liberties we have in America and the opportunities for discipleship and growth.
Dec. 26 – This trip has definitely increased my praise for the Father in regards to thankfulness for modern conveniences and the American lifestyle. I often take for granted toilets, toilet paper, clean water, brushing my teeth from a faucet, grocery stores, my car, heaters, washers and dryers, and most importantly accessibility to places of spiritual growth.
I have forsaken how blessed I am to go to church weekly and to meet in small groups, and to carry my Bible freely to school and for the opportunities I have to surround myself with Godly friends that encourage me to seek Him more, and for a family and a church family that pray, support and disciple me. My prayer is that our team can be an instrument of living hope in the lives of the students while we are here and that the Lord will burden hearts in America, like mine, to pray continuously for these people and to open up some hearts to become laborers here.
Dec. 28 – Today I spent a lot of time with one girl in particular. I shared with her the story of Christ and gave her a Bible in her language. The students also had us over to cook and dance. They are so sweet and I know it will be hard to leave here.
Dec. 29 – Evan* told us that we brought happiness to the campus. He said that before we came it was so boring and that after we left everyone would be really sad. I hope that they are able to understand that our joy comes from the Father and that they can have it too.
Dec. 31 – Leaving Asia today was more difficult than I had ever imagined. The Lord has completely transformed my heart and attitude for this unreach ed people group. My hope is that the Lord will give me discernment on how I can best help these people and what I can do with the connections I’ve made and the experiences I’ve been blessed to have.
As I prepared for the trip last semester, I didn’t understand why the Lord burdened my heart for the Asian people. I didn’t feel qualified, I didn’t have an interest in the Asian culture, nor did I imagine I would be able to raise $3,000 to go. But the Lord is so faithful to provide and to work on the hearts of his people. I wish I could efficiently explain in words how I saw the Lord work and how our prayers were answered. I hope this gives you a little bit of a picture of how He is at work in a small area of Asia.