RED.

 

Man, I love these people, and I have been so excited to see the Lord grow them beyond measure.

Man, I love these people, and I have been so excited to see the Lord grow them beyond measure.

Even before I left for training, I got sent a video about the organization we were going to be working with while in El Salvador. After the seven minute video, I fell in love with the ministry. This ministry is called Project RED, which was formed in 2011 due to the new law that took place in El Salvador. The new law said that all children living in an orphanage had to go back to live with their families. The government thought they were doing everybody a favor by enforcing this law, but the poor family conditions were what sent these kids to the orphanage in the first place, and now they were being sent back to their horrible and heartbreaking living conditions. This is where Project RED comes in. RED stand for reintegration, education, and development, meaning that their ultimate goal is to make the broken families self-sufficient, but dependent on the Lord.

REINTEGRATION:

Through trained counselors and therapists, and most importantly the Lord, they do their best to help the families adjust to being put back together again. There was one family that we were told about, where the mom literally hated her children and did not want them back. These were the type of families that Project RED worked with. Families that were broken and seemed to be beyond repair. Their are families that are fatherless, a 12-year old has been sexually abused and has a child, and the youngest children have skin diseases and their property is on a piles of trash buried in the ground. These are the families the Project RED works with. But, theses families aren’t beyond repair. God takes what is broken and makes it beautiful. He takes situations that seem hopeless and changes them and transforms them into something so unrecognizable, that the only explanation in the Lord.

EDUCATION:

The next step in Project RED in education. Through the provision of the Lord, they seek to find ways to make sure that these children, who were receiving an education while in the orphanages, still receive an education even after they are back living with their families, which is something very uncommon and very hard to make happen because a lot of these families just simply do not have the funds to send their children to school, or some just do not want them to go to school. So, Project RED seeks to provide the needs to make sure these children still have an opportunity to continue on in their education. They provide bus fairs, school supplies, and on some special occasions, receive the funds that make it possible for some children to go to the best school in town. Which, on the outside, seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with the Lord.

DEVELOPMENT:

This is probably one of my favorite parts about this ministry– self-sufficiency. The heart of Project RED is to create these families to be self-sustaining, not dependent on Project RED. Yes, Project RED provides them with a few things like toiletries, food, and clothes once a month, but they are slowly weaning them off their dependencies and are teaching them how to provide for their families on their own. Families, specifically parents, are even provided with the opportunity to take classes on things like gardening for example, where they can learn how to grow their own fruits and vegetables, which allows them to provide food for their family. This is just a microcosm of what is going on inside of Project RED itself, and what my heart is in general for all nations.Families serving their own families, and El Salvadorians serving El Salvadorians, countries serving their own countries and leading them towards Christ.

My heart for the nations, and Christians in their own cultures and countries, is for them to serve their own people because I think that is where the biggest change is going to happen. For instance, who do you think a Ugandan man would respond to more openly…and skinny white boy, or another Ugandan man? Exactly. I love the idea of people serving their own people, and I feel like it is easier for someone of the same culture to share the Gospel and disciple someone, rather than having a foreigner do the same task. I think this is what the Lord has intended as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. Missionaries are necessary, and we are called to go to the ends of the earth, but a culture that is run and flooded by foreigners is not ideal. How awesome would it be for the people of India to serve their own people and share the Gospel according to their own culture? How much more responsive would they be? Or how incredible would it be for the Chinese to be discipling the Chinese? I think the Lord would undoubtedly be delighted.

IMG_1481

IMG_1488

 

In Luke 20: 38 Jesus says: “Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.” Satan has a strong grip on El Salvador. There is so much violence, danger, fear, hurt, and hate that is present, but what is even more present is how evidently and clearly the Lord is moving in El Salvador. The Lord has made of His plan of redemption know through the power of the cross, and I feel like this plan has been revealed to El Salvador and has been changing the country itself from the inside out. We have seen entire families restored and full of contagious joy and laughter. It is obvious that these people are grateful for project RED, but it is also clear that they are truly humbled be the fact that the Lord would look upon them with such grace and favor. They have understood that they have received everything they have because of the Lord and that they seek to please them with all their hearts. Change is everywhere in El Salvador. When we were sitting at the gate waiting to board our plane to come home, there was a full blown worship concert playing on the TVs! Are you kidding me? God is bringing His plan of salvation and redemption for the entire country to fruition slowly but surely. It may not be fast, or in the time we want to see it, but it is happening, so praise God. He is God of the living. He, Himself is living and active, and moving. He is real and surely alive.

The Fellowship

Slovenia is pretty much heaven…or the closest thing to it. It is beautiful beyond words and declares unequivocally the majesty of God. Mountains surround every village and big, thick, white, clouds roll down the mountains every morning. It is absolutely incredible. My mouth literally hurts from my jaw being open more than half the time we were in Slovenia. However, despite the beauty and amazing atmosphere, Slovenia is very dark spiritually. Out of 2 million people, there are maybe 1,000 evangelical Christians in all of the land. In the 2 villages we visited in our stay here, there was really only 1 family in each village who were believers. But it was in our time of fellowship with these believers that I found how important fellowship and community is in the church. BUT, before I talk about this more, let me tell you about a few highlights from the week!

Because there are so few Evangelical Christians in Slovenia, we spent most of our time here evangelizing in streets and bringing literature to their mailboxes. For most of our time in Slovenia, we were in a city called Bovec, where our group split up into two smaller teams, a walking team and cycling team. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to mountain bike for four days by the Soca river and in the mountains of Slovenia. It was hard and exhausting, but so worth it and by far probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done…

IMG_1385

My mountain biking view!

 

 

and then there was the highlight of my life. We spent the first part of our trip in a little village called Idrija with the only believers in the town, Peter, Alja, and Primos (later we were joined by one of the coolest guys we’ve ever met, Jay). Our main purpose in Idrija was street evangelism, which was a greater task than I first thought, number one, because Idrija is so small, and number two, because no one was out on the street. However, we went out every day and walked the streets and had coffee in the hopes of just being sensitive to what the Lord wanted us to do. On our last day in Idrija, Jay took us out into the main square in the middle of town where we had a time of worship and a devotion. During our devotion time, I noticed two things: a big family standing farther behind us, and a guy, a little closer, to my right–and alone. The whole time I was wondering if the guy sitting a little ways off could here us, and the whole time I felt the Lord put the burden on my heart to go talk to him and hand him the Gospel of John that I had in Slovene. I had felt this feeling before. The Lord telling me to do something, which most of the time I didn’t do out of fear and felt so guilty and remorseful for afterwards. But the longer I sat there, the more I knew what I had to do. I knew that I couldn’t just walk away. The regret that I would have felt for not being obedient to the Lord in this moment most likely would have followed me the rest of my life. So, after our devotion, I unzipped my backpack, pulled out the Gospel of John, and walked straight towards the lonely guy. “Doberdon (“good day” in Slovene),” I said, as I stopped in front of him. “Do you speak any English?” He looked at my with a half surprised, half confused face, and said he spoke a little bit…but that was a lie…he definitely spoke perfect english. Anyways, I handed him the Gospel of John and kindly told him about how this book had changed our lives as I pointed back to the team. “Yea,” he said, “I overheard a little bit of what you all were talking about.” My hope grew deeper as he seemed really receptive to what the Lord was speaking through me (because let’s be honest, they were His words and not mine). I told him about how Jesus loves us and died for us and how He forgives our disobedience if we believe, and I told him that’s the reason why we came all the way from America to Slovenia…to tell people about this amazing truth. The whole time I just could not believe how receptive He was and how genuinely interested He looked. After a few more minutes of just meeting each other and asking general questions about each other, it was time for me to go. He told me His name was Rock–like “Rock ‘N Roll” he said. I told him that I really hoped he would read the Gospel of John that I gave him and then proceeded on my way to meet the team, where I found some of them praying of the whole encounter. My first thought as I walked away: “I just shared the Gospel.” As I was walking away, there was nothing that could have wiped the smile off my face and taken the deep joy away in the moment. It was the best feeling I have ever felt in my life, and it was all because I was obedient to the Lord. I can honestly say, this was the first moment I have truly ever shared the Gospel with a complete stranger. Sure there is Sunday School, and maybe a handful of people who already “know” the Lord, but this? This was the truly the first time I shared the Gospel without fear, fully trusting that God would supply the strength and words that I needed to say. It was unlike anything else, and there is truly nothing like it. It’s contagious in a way, and I realized that there is honestly no greater joy than telling someone about our Majestic God and Savior Jesus. Please keep praying for Rock and the seed that was planted!

The little village of Idrija!

The little village of Idrija!

Now, back to fellowship. Acts 2:42-47 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day be day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” I do not think that I have ever seen a more clear picture of the early church than in the believers in Slovenia. It was one of the most beautiful, raw, and authentic things I have ever seen and been apart of. Even though there were few believers, the were desperate to meet with each other, though they were sometimes over 3 hours apart. Their hearts were glad and were beyond generous, and they praised God and thanked Him with their humble hearts. One of my favorite moments while in Slovenia was when we meet with 3 members from a family of believers in the basement of a restaurant. We sang, told testimonies, and even had a message, but my favorite part was our time of prayer at the end. We had the opportunity to pray of the family and over Peter, Alja, Primos, and Jay, and the presence of God in that place was undeniable. After praying over each person one by one, we prayed over the country of Slovenia, and I have never felt so much power in one prayer and I know it was because we were praying straight Scripture. We were praying right out of God’s Word, asking Him to show up just like He does in Scripture and asked Him to act according to His character. It was unlike anything else. It was just so powerful, and I was not the only one who thought that. As we were all leaving and saying our goodbyes, it became so clear to me how important fellowship was to these believers. Where they lived, these people were literally the only believers…they relied on sweet fellowship and breaking bread with one another. Then, as we spent the rest of our time in Bovec, the Lord just really reinforced the importance of fellowship as pretty much all the missionaries in Slovenia reunited together at the place we were staying. It was church. It was real. It wasn’t in a building, but in a house, where we ate together, sang together, talked together, read together, and trusted together that the Lord would turn the nation of Slovenia back to Him. This message of the importance of fellowship could not have come at a better time. The 4th country struggles were real as I dealt with a lot of frustration and tension and stress over petty things. It was so ironic how I was acting against the unity and divine bondage in community. I really struggled to love the team well, something that I didn’t really show on the outside, but something I held on the inside most of the week. But of course, when I started confiding to people on the team, my frustrations and problems were brought into the light, redeeming and renewing my mind.

The fellowship in the body of Christ is prime. It is so easy to be broken over small and light issues, but it is so important that we rely on Christ to help us keep it all together as the head of the body. Sometimes we take fellowship for granted, especially when it seems it is all around us in the church. But when we realize fellowship isn’t just an option, but more a command and requirement, we realize how important it is to keep us spurred on. The Slovenes got it. Fellowship was a priority, no matter what they had to do to meet…it was that important to them, and so it should be for us. We need the fellowship–there is no other way to live life.

I loved my time here in Europe. When I was young, and still to this day, I have always been so intrigued in Europe and interested in exploring it. I’ve had a passion to go to Europe, you could say, and it has been exciting to think about the possibility of the Lord using and transforming this passion into something more. Maybe it is coming back and visiting other European countries, or maybe He has something else in mind, but I please ask you to pray with me about how the Lord intends to use this desire to explore such interesting and beautiful places!

Camping out in the front yard!

Camping out in the front yard!

Perspective

I love Uganda, I love Uganda–I. LOVE. UGANDA. It was truly unlike anything I had ever expected or dreamed up. My picture of Uganda was most like India. I expected it to be dry, flat, and covered in dry, brown, dirt. But when I walked out of the airport and felt the perfect weather, saw the red clay dirt meeting the green hills and the plethora of different and tropical trees, and the brightly colored houses with the backdrop of Lake Victoria, I thought I was in Heaven. There is no other way to describe it than completely unexpected. Growing up, I always remember being so frustrated with people who wanted to do mission work in Africa. It started becoming such a cliche to me when literally everyone and their mom wanted to do mission work there. So, as I considered traveling and doing mission work overseas, I pretty much resented going to Africa, and to be honest, this was the leg of the trip that I was looking forward to the least, but boy did that change quickly. The first thing my eyes fell in love with was the land, and the first thing my heart fell in love with was the people. Like I said earlier, the combination of the rich, red dirt, the luscious green hills, brightly colored houses, Lake Victoria (and the Nile River), and the best weather I could have hoped for coming out of India…I was so drawn, and it was only about 30 minutes into our 8 hour bus ride. The beautiful landscape of Uganda took my completely by surprise and I honestly just didn’t know what to do with myself. I just had no idea.

My eyes were captivated first, and then my heart. While in Uganda, we worked at Lulwanda Children’s Home and Primary School, which consisted of both the children’s home kids and community kids (which were kids from the surrounding villages). In our time here, we also got to know the staff of the Children’s Home and the teachers of the Primary School. I can honestly say I have never seen such pure and genuine joy radiate from a people group. Their huge smiles, and hearty laughter complimented their great thankfulness and gratitude. In one of our quiet times this week (we are all going through the Gospel of Luke), we read about the woes to the Pharisees and Lawyers found in Luke 11:37-54. This doubled-edged sword of a passage pierced me through and through, especially when Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. Jesus says: “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.” As I turned this into my prayer for the entire week, I soon realized how much I loved the Ugandan people. They are truly pure inside and out and have a genuine joy that exceeds and overcomes their past experiences and situations. Authenticity, yes, that’s the word. The same inside and out. And beautiful, yes, we can use this word too. Authentic and beautiful people who have come from such dark places. On our last day, we had the opportunity to read about how some of the kids in the children’s home came to be there. Their biographies were devastating and almost torturous to read. The overwhelming amount of HIV/AIDS present in all of Africa led to most of the children becoming orphans, as well as abandonment from either one or both parents. Honestly, if I were to tell you some of the harshest stories, I don’t think you would believe them. But, the joy of the Lord is undoubtedly their strength. I love these people, and it was a hard goodbye. Hopefully though, Lord willing, I will be able to see their joyous faces again.

DSC00959

 

One of the biggest things I learned while in Uganda was perspective. Before this trip mu view of a missionary was very skewed and in ways, very glorified. I thought being a missionary was like living an extreme life in a different country or state and doing extreme thing everyday, but that was very foolish of me. Moreover, a life like that scared me, and I thought I could never do it. However, the thing I never realized about the life of a missionary is how normal it is. While in Uganda, we stayed with Natalie, who worked at the Children’s Home and also with the Palmer family…and life was just normal. We made popcorn some nights, we made cakes and brownies, and we even had movie nights most nights. This opened my eyes so much to what life would and could be like. These were just normal people living normal lives in a different country in the name of Jesus. This realization made me feel so comfortable. Not that life in a foreign country would always be comfortable, but that if God really called me to it, I could do it…with God of course because I’m utterly ill-equipped without Him. 

Constantly throughout Uganda my perspective was changing. As we were riding in the car from the Entebbe airport to Mbale some of the team and I were talking about how it would be “easy” to be called to a beautiful place. It would be hard to be called to Hong Kong where there is 98% humidity day in and day out or where evangelism is illegal in China. It would indeed be hard to be called to India, where it is 105 degrees everyday, with no A/C and where there are piles of trash on the side of the road everywhere you look. But, to be called to Uganda, where there is perfect weather, and beautiful scenery, it would be a lot easier to be called here, somewhere that is attractive to go to. And the more I thought about it, I really liked the idea of being called to Uganda–in fact, I wanted to be called there. However, as I went throughout the week, I knew I wasn’t called to Uganda, and I was really saddened by it at first. For some stupid reason I felt like because I wasn’t called there, I couldn’t go back or that I couldn’t love it. Why I thought this, I have no earthly idea. Just because I wasn’t called to Uganda doesn’t mean I can’t love the people there, and it doesn’t mean I can’t support the mission work that is going on there. I can be called somewhere else and still love everything about Uganda. This was a pretty silly argument that I had in my head, I know, but it is something that changed my perspective so much about mission work. Also, just because a place that is attractive or appealing to you does not mean that it would be easy to be called there. Everywhere you go there will be hardships and struggles. As I am writing this blog, I am staring at the clouds literally rolling down the mountains into the village of Idrija, Slovenia. I have always wanted to go to Europe and it is more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed, and I would love to live in Europe and carry out mission work here, but it would come with plenty of valleys and trenches-even now I am waiting for Spiritual Warfare to start as we go to evangelize on the streets. People need Jesus. That’s the point. End of story. Whether there are beautiful rolling hills, or trash on the side of the road, people need Jesus. Besides, who ever said being in the center of God’s will was easy?

Uganda took my breath away. It was so unexpected and I loved every second of it. The people were full of God’s joy inside and out and the country was stunning in and of itself. And through it, my perspective of mission work has been changed exponentially. I cannot wait to come back.

IMG_1274

Continue to pray for bravery and courage as we start to evangelize in Slovenia. Pray for the Good News to go forth in love and for hearts to be fertile, soft, and receptive to the Gospel.  

10 Rupees

If I could sum up India in one word, it would probably be: Random. Car horns make the most random sound I have ever heard, people ride camels along side of the road (I’m pretty obsessed with camels now), the electricity goes on and off at weird hours of the night, there are random piles of trash everywhere alongside the road, and well, you just have to experience it for yourself. Besides being random, India was always hot and always exhausting, but the one thing that took me by surprise the most was the hospitality of the Indian people, which ended up teaching me one of my biggest lessons while I was here. As we were headed to India on our plane, I was reading in Luke where  He writes a shortened version of the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor…the hungry, those who weep…and I could not help but think of the orphans. At least to me, this is the picture of an orphan that I see. One who is starving, poor, and weeping for a mother and father, for someone to take care of them. But God told me to look at the first couple words of these truths. Blessed are the….These children are blessed beyond measure. Though the world may not see it, these children understand what we often miss here in America because we always have so much. But these children have nothing, and yet they have everything. They have the necessity that Jesus talks to Martha about in Luke 10. They have Jesus. They are blessed. It was clear that I was going to be taught from these children, not the other way around. 

Near the end of our time here, I really did not feel like I had made an impact on any of the kids, which made me feel a little discouraged. I played with the kids, and talked to some of them about Jesus, loved them and served them (as best as I thought I could, which I will talk about later), but I really did not feel like I had really and truly connected with these kids…until Tuesday night. Earlier that day I hung out with some the girls of room 6. They tried to teach me Hindi, and some Hindi songs, but they continuously wanted me to teach them some American dances. We talked about their dreams and how they wanted to grow up to provide for their families by becoming nurses while some wanted to be talented singers and dancers. That same night, before our prayer time, one of the girls, Diyo, asked Amelia (who had been with them all week) and me to come to their room that night after dinner because she had a surprise for us. After dinner we reluctantly headed over to room 6, only guessing at what could be in store for us, not knowing that it would shape our whole experience in India. We walked into the room and were greeted with a emphatic “SURPRISE!” They pointed to a little table which held  loaves of bread, cookies, mango candies, chocolate, and coke. Before we could say anything, they literally started shoving food in our mouths. At one point I had four cookies in my mouth and Amelia was stuffing most of the food in her skirt! Then they proceeded to show us some of the dances they were practicing, and Diyo started singing her favorite song, “God sent His Son,” which quickly turned into the whole room singing at the top of their lungs. We asked how they got all of this stuff, and they said that they all put in 10 rupees to make this happen for us. I was so in shock. I literally did not deserve this in the least. I felt completely guilty because there was nothing that I gave them that would compare to this lasting memory.

Diyo with R & M written in henna on her arm!

Diyo with R & M written in henna on her arm!

The next day, as Amelia was walking Diyo back to her room, one of Diyo’s shoes came apart. Amelia asked if she could get new ones, and she, of course, said “yes!” However, when they got to the room, Amelia asked all of Diyo’s roomates if she could get new shoes, and all of them said, “No, Auntie, she spent all of her money on you and Uncle.” I sat speechless for a good while. Thankfully, a lot of us brought shower shoes, that we were able to give Diyo, but seriously, a 14 year old girl spent all of her money and threw a surprise party for two people who she met less than 5 days ago and were more than undeserving. One thing that I did not expect was to see kids so young understand and carry out the Scriptures. Diyo demonstrated something that I wish I would have understood at 14. She gave everything, even if it meant not having enough for her basic needs. She gave because it gave her immense joy. She gave because she knew she had everything. She had Jesus. That was what she needed. That was her everything. It didn’t matter what she gave away, she always had what was necessary, and God knew what she needed.

The next revelation that rocked my world was that God lavishes His love upon us, yet never gets exhausted. Throughout the week, I constantly found myself looking at my watch to find out when I could take a break from loving these kids, and have some time trying to get out of the heat and into a place where I was not surrounded by dozens of children. I was exhausted. The kids want you to do this, then that, pull you each and every direction, hang on every part of your body, frustrate you, annoy you, all in the intense heat. Please do not get me wrong. These kids are not horrible children nor was I actually upset with them, but the living conditions do start to wear you down in more ways than one. Yet, how disgustingly selfish I was. As I was sitting in prayer time, God showed me to how this related to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We cling to the things of this world without wanting to let go, get swayed by it left and right, we undoubtedly frustrate God I’m sure and annoy Him, but He doesn’t look at His watch and look for an opportune time to take a break from loving us. He doesn’t get exhausted, yet goes even further and lavishes love upon us. Excuse me while I repent. Then the Lord gave me a challenge. “Don’t wear your watch the rest of your time at the Orphanage,” He said. I accepted the challenge and everything changed. He took the focus off of myself and showed me how to love continuously on these kids. I learned to love them hanging on me, pulling me every direction, even nagging me. I loved it all. I actually got to know the kids, and commit my time to loving them intentionally, making them feel valued, just like they did for me.

My selfishness is being uncovered more and more everyday of this journey, and it freaks me out, yet my hearts cry has been, “Replace the dirt with purity, Lord. Let the lessons you have been teaching me land on fertile soil in my heart and let it take root in the Word that you have already hidden in there. I desperately want to become more like you. That is all I want. You are all I want. Jesus I just want to be like you.” Overall, India has been incredible. We got to spend a week with incredibley selfless children. We got to meet some pretty awesome staff members, Aneal (Chotu) and Vickrom, we got to see the Taj Mahal, and I have seriously never seen so many camels in my life. Also, this past Sunday, Ryan and I were both asked to preach (which was really stressful actually because they asked us at 8 the night before), and I also got to help lead worship by playing the keyboard! It was all really nerve racking, to be honest, but “I sought the Lord, and He delivered me from all of my fears” (Psalm 34:4). I have loved it here in India, heat and all, but I am beyond ecstatic to get to Uganda. I am excited for the chance and opportunity to try again–to press on and to put my hand to the plow, to once again have the chance to live each day with more joy, laughter, compassion, and most importantly, a heart that looks more like Jesus’.

Please continue to pray for our team as we enter into the 3rd leg of this adventure. We are all pretty tired, and some of us don’t feel the best, but continue to pray that through all things, and in all things, God would be glorified!

Hong Kong: Lessons Learned

Before I start blogging about the more important things, I thought you should know that i’ve now been coined with 10 billion nicknames in just 10 days, no big deal, but it’s probably a record…Nussty, Nutsy (in a british accent), Nuts, and Nust, just to name a few…oh and my name is now permanently Ryan Nussty, with a silent “s” in the middle, of course. Sorry Mom and Dad, your son got his name changed in Asia! So, in just a few days my last name has turned into the butt of everyones’ joke. Therefore, if you feel so obliged to give me any sort of nickname when I get back, well, just think of something that sounds sort of like my last name, and you’ll be good! Now on to more important things.

THE TEAM!

IMG_0929

 It’s hard to put into words just how perfectly this team has been put together. There is no amount of wisdom that man has to be able to so incredibly form this team. I remember in training being anxious about how our team would work together and how we would interact with each other, but we have already laughed tons together and have already cried a little bit too, so there is not really much more explanation needed to explain the power and divinity of God placing people right where He wants them, at the exact same time, for the exact same purpose. God has 9 girls and 2 guys placed on this trip for a reason. We are all so uniquely created that there is bound to be a point on this trip when one of us will be the only one that has been appointed to fulfill a given task. I love these people already. We are only a week into our entire journey and I already dread having to say bye to them. God has been uniting us day by day and I cannot wait to see how He continues to grow and encourage us through each other. These shawties rock, and already my life is being changed by each one of them…I know what you’re thinking, it’s pretty sappy, yes, but entirely true. There has been encouragement, joy, and, and strength flowing from these people constantly, and I cannot wait to continue doing life with them for the next 50 days.

LESSONS THAT SO BADLY NEEDED TO BE LEARNED.

As I learned more about the ministry that we would be working with here in Hong Kong, I started getting more and more excited, thinking that this could easily be one of my favorite places. I loved what the ministry was about and their mission in general. The people of China desperately need the Word of God and are constantly hungry for it. They crave it. They cherish the word, count it very precious, and view it more valuable than silver and gold, so just getting to work with a ministry that is trying to get Bibles into the hands of Christians who have never had a copy before is all together incredible and admirable. Our task? Take Bibles into China. Seems easy enough right? Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. This task is not only physically demanding, but emotionally and spiritually exhausting, and mentally draining. Some of the missionaries here have been doing this everyday for over a decade…and we’ve been here one week and we are all dead. However, I feel like I have gained an incredible amount of wisdom in just 8 short days. Let me give you some insight into the life of Nussty.

My first lesson: Sovereignty. Our Father is sovereign in all things and at all times. Nothing takes Him by surprise. I was completely terrified of getting stopped with all the Bibles on every run, but on the first day, when two people from our group got stopped, they actually got to talk to the customs officials about why they were taking Bibles into China–their answer was a straightforward: “This book changed my life.” I realized that whether we made it through without getting stopped or even if we did get stopped, there was an opportunity for God to be glorified and to even plant a seed. My anxiousness started to wear off. My second lesson: Love. The Chinese believers not only cherish the Word, but they love the Word. They know that they are allowed to love because Christ loved them first. Our God shows no partiality people, it’s all love, and the Chinese people, and even people of Hong Kong humbly understand that. I would be crazy if I said I was not the one getting taught the lesson of love here. On Sunday, one of the volunteers, BillieJune, took us to church with her. I expected to get great joy out of watching the people worship and listen to a message in a different culture and language, but what I didn’t expect was to start literally weeping 2 seconds into the first worship song. It was so clear that these people loved the Lord and loved worshipping Him. Their hearts were so pure and genuine and to see a room full of people lifting their hands and crying out praise after praise to our God in a different language moved me to tears…then the english words came up on the screen and I balled even more because of what they were singing. Their love was so evident. There is absolutely no denying that. Then, it hit me as I was reading Psalm 103. For the first few days of this mission, something felt weird. I felt like I was just going through the motions, not really being fully aware of all the work that was taking place. In Psalm 103 it says: “For as high as the Heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.” As I looked outside my window, I could see beautiful green mountains stacked upon one another that seemed to just keep building up towards Heaven. Talk about God revealing Himself through His Word and creation. I had been doing this mission without the purpose of love–without the motive of love. I was not intentional about serving this ministry and the people with love in my heart. To be honest, that might have been the last thing on my mind. And then He showed me this: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). If I am taking 10 million Bibles a day (obviously an exaggeration) into China, serving the missionaries, serving the team, and having all faith in the Lord that He would get all the Bibles across the border, but have not love, it is all meaningless…worthless even. The people of China and Hong Kong reminded me of that by just seeing glimpses of their reverence for the Father and by allowing it to be fully evident that their response to God’s compassion and favor was and is love. My third lesson: Be quiet. After awhile, more people on our team had gotten stopped, but I heard their stories about how they got to tell the officers about the Gospel and why they were taking the Bibles into China. I secretly wanted to get stopped just once, just so I could tell one of the officers about why we were doing what we were doing, and well I sort of got my wish. As I was making my way into China, two officers came and got me and sent me over to unpack my bag. I asked God for words to say so that I could potentially share the Gospel, but instead, I was surrounded by three officers that did not speak English, and were beyond aggressive and rude. I started to unpack my bag very discouraged, then, three more of my teammates gathered behind me to unpack their bags as well. It was a HUGE letdown. I was already discouraged, which after a while felt degrading, and then that feeling transitioned into anger because I couldn’t even share the Gospel or the reason for our mission. Later that night, one of our teammates, Evan, gave us all some encouragement. She simply reminded us that even seeing a bagful of Bibles was a testimony in and of itself. That did not really encourage me much until I read this the next day: “And [Jesus] charged him to tell no one, but ‘go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for proof to them.’” (Luke 5:14). When Jesus healed this man from leprosy, He specifically charged him to tell no one, but to still go show the priests that he had been cleansed as a testament to what had just been done. As I thought back to that moment we were stopped, I realized God was so intentional with what He was doing. I was just being extremely, extremely, selfish. If four bags stuffed with Bibles wasn’t enough testimony to what God was up to in China to those three officers, I don’t know what would be. It was clear in that moment that our actions spoke louder than our words ever could.

On the other hand, Satan is working. He is daily prowling around our team looking for ways to discourage us, frustrate us, and throw us off course (especially in our travels). But that just makes it all the more clear that our team is doing something right. Jesus is unequivocally stronger. We walk by faith, indeed because we are often blinded by the uncreative and unoriginal works of the counterfeit king. It is easy to see the miracles of God which display His power, but it is much harder to believe that Jesus has authority over all things as the Son of God, especially to not only forgive the Chinese people’s unbelief, but our doubt as well, and the sins of us all. BUT HE DOES. That’s the Gospel friends. All of my lessons learned while here in Hong Kong beautifully point back to the Gospel. God is sovereign over all things, and He has been given all authority. And because He sent His Son to die for us, He has shown us that He first loved us, so we must love others the same way, without partiality, and with love reining in our hearts at all times. Even though some things seem to go wrong (sometimes right after the other), Jesus has authority over it all and He reigns with love, and is constantly teaching us through it so that we can demonstrate it to all the world.  There is a pretender prince with a counterfeit kingdom, but his castle will only come crumbling down.

Our time here in Hong Kong has taught me many things, so once again, if you have made it this far, congratulations! We have spent time just trying to get to know the voice of God better, and to be sensitive and obedient to His Word. Oh, and we also hiked up to a waterfall where we got to sing praises to the King of kings with all of His creation! Jesus has undoubtedly taught me that the Gospel is so relevant in every culture today, no matter where we are at. At home, Hong Kong, India, Uganda, Slovenia, or even El Salvador…the Gospel holds all truth, and everything points back to the immense love that has brought us here on this Journey in the first place.

Please continue to pray for our team as we travel to India and learn              all new lessons. The Gospel is powerful and the Lord is our Almighty God. INDIA HERE WE COME!

 

 

 

From Comfort to Courage

I love my comfort zone. It’s nice, neat, tidy, organized, and well…comfortable. I know where everything is. I know what every nook and cranny consists of, and I know how to manage it all. Too bad the Lord didn’t call me to be comfortable, I’d probably be an expert at that by now. For a while now, my life has been driven by fear. I would be nice if it were fear of the Lord right, but no – actual fear. A fear of stepping out of my comfort zone into the unknown. A fear of what people think of me. A fear of rejection, looking like a fool, and not being able to live up to others’ expectation of me…or my expectation of me. Fear has consumed my life. I am like the little elephant off of Tarzan who asked if the water was unsanitary! However, as I have matured and grown and have seen the Lord work so evidently in my life and the lives of others, there can be no other response but confidant trust in the Lord.

Two summers ago, Ryan and Sarah Pursley came back from going on their first Global Journey trip, and I sat mesmerized listening to all of their stories and how the Lord so clearly worked through them. After hearing about all of the Lord’s accomplishments, and how Ryan and Sarah’s lives were completely changed and stretched, I remember asking God for an opportunity to be literally thrown out of my comfort zone. I had spent too long in there, and it was time to just trust the Lord and trust that I could be used by Him. Then, last summer, Sarah messaged me over Facebook asking me to think about going on Global Journey because they needed more guys to go, but I sort of brushed it off, not really thinking to much of it until she messaged me again later in July. “The Lord has really put you on my heart for this trip” Sarah said, and for some reason, those words were all I could think about. I told her I would truly think about it and be in prayer about it. After awhile, I decided that I would just fill out the application, and whether I got accepted or not I would be completely satisfied. No less than two days later, Sarah Posey called me and told me that I had been accepted. My only thought: “WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I JUST GET MYSELF INTO?!”

Listen friends, when you ask the Lord for something that is totally in line with His unchanging character, terrifying and amazing things are bound to happen…and He will completely and thoroughly see them through. I cannot tell you how many times over the past several months that I did not think I was going to be able to go on this adventure. The money was just not coming in and there were many times when I felt like totally giving up, but I kept on praying in faith, knowing that He is Jehovah Jireh – Provider. I have heard a plethora of amazing testimonies of how the Lord has provided for other people, but I wasn’t really sure if this could be true in my situation. Of course, the Lord totally crushed those lies. I have never in my life seen the Lord work so clearly and evidently in my life before. Never. And I am still blown away. I needed to raise $8,000 for this trip, but the Lord provided over $10,000. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DID YOU JUST READ WHAT I WROTE? The Lord provided over $2,000 more than I needed. I am here to tell you that when we pray and ask in faith according to who God is, just wait and see how the Lord will show up…with more than enough I might add!

If you have gotten this far, I’m proud of you! I know I’ve written a lot, but it is the first time I have gotten the chance to write everything the Lord has been up to! So about 10 months and $10,000 later, I am almost ready to go. Training starts in about 2 days, all my vaccines are taken care of, and the Lord has been preparing me to go beyond the border of my comfort. I will leave you with this as this has encouraged me immensely: “But when you really understand God’s work in you, your natural desire will be to surrender your life to Him. To obey Him unconditionally. That posture of surrender will result in radical steps of faith – and a confidence that flows from a heart that’s fully devoted to God’s plans. And in that place, past the edge of your comfort and convenience, God can raise your life to new heights” (Steven Furtick, Sun Stand Still). I have tasted and seen the Lord, and there is truly no turning back. Jesus is everything, the Gospel is most precious, and the fear of leaving comfort has no place in any of it. The Lord is Great. The Lord is Good. LET’S DO THIS.