[Editor’s note: P2C-Students offers opportunities for young adults to go on mission trips nationally and internationally. We want all people to experience God’s heart for the world. This blog series is one way to discover more about the what, how, and why of #globalmissions.
This article was written by Dave, a member of our global missions team. Originally from Ontario, Dave lives in Montreal where he is part of P2C-Students. He loves opportunities to be in nature, especially when there are amazing views and chances to be near water.]
I have often asked God, “What are you doing?” It’s a good question to think about, except often it’s not a sincere one.
Instead of patiently listening for an answer, my question can be an accusation, something more like, “Do you know what you are doing?!” “Do you care?!” “Why are you letting this happen?!”
Thankfully, God has been patient and merciful each time I demonstrate this arrogance, fear, and lack of faith. He still shows me that he is always at work, not just around the world, but also in me. He has graciously reminded me that he knows what he is doing, cares far more than I ever could, is in full control, and can easily handle the big questions.
I’ve been especially encouraged by what God is doing in other parts of the world. Let me share with you how God has been at work recently in two of our international partnership regions, Desert Rain and East Asia. (These are nicknames to protect the ministries in these locations.)
Even in a pandemic, some were able to minister in-person, while others engaged digitally. I hope you will be encouraged as you read a sliver of an answer to the sincere question, “God, what are you doing?”
When the borders in Desert Rain were opened and flights became available, ministry teams were able to return to serve digitally and in-person, depending on the severity of restrictions.
Ian and Lindsay are two of the Canadians who had been serving there this past year. Before they arrived, several teams in Desert Rain had been taking steps to expand their digital reach. Lindsay said that the quality of conversations had improved, compared to when she was last in the region. People seemed to be more open and familiar with Christian content that many local and international Christians had produced in the local language and shared online.
God has been preparing people’s hearts.
Ian, who had returned for his second year in-country, said it was especially encouraging to finally be able to gather Christian and non-Christian students together. He said that many don’t believe there are Christians in the country, so it is important to help Christians to meet each other and share their faith with others.
At Easter they were able to invite seven friends, three of whom are believers, to a home dinner. He said,
It was amazing to see how they all interacted with one another, particularly my friend Simon, who is a seeker. It was so refreshing to see the two believing brothers share the gospel and their testimonies with Simon right there in the room! One friend even read through the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Bible in the local dialect as everyone listened.
Each person at the dinner is a story demonstrating how God is at work among students there.
One of the students in particular, Nathalie, attended the Easter get-together as a new Christian. Lindsay originally met Nathalie near campus and they quickly built a friendship where they began reading the Bible together. At one point during a discussion on prayer and how God reveals himself, Nathalie shared with Lindsay that she had had an interesting dream two years ago. She dreamed there was a man in white clothing who asked something like “What do you want?,” but she couldn’t quite recall the words. Lindsay told me what happened next:
Being led by the Spirit, a passage came to mind of when Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?,” and we read the passage in Luke. Her eyes grew wide and she said that was exactly the question!
When they next met, Nathalie told Lindsay that she had been praying to God and had been reading Bible passages about being invited to feast with Jesus—and that she wanted to accept the invitation! Right in Lindsay’s home, they prayed together, and Nathalie went from becoming a friend to a sister in Christ.
As the weeks and months passed, Lindsay was able to help introduce Nathalie to more believers, attend a small house church in her first language, and boldly share about Jesus with her friends.
As the local church grows, it’s also encouraging to see God grow the number of people serving long-term in Desert Rain. A local staff joined the team recently, and six of last year’s international interns have applied to serve long-term. God is clearly responding to the prayers asking him to send out labourers into the harvest field!
I also heard some stories from Lauren, Kim, and Joshua, who have been working digitally with students in East Asia during the pandemic. Lauren, who had previously served there in-person, said it was hard to stay back in Canada:
It was sad, as my team and I were cultivating meaningful friendships and a number of students had come over for meals and fellowship times weekly.
In the beginning of digital ministry, they tried monthly Zoom calls, but it was hard to build momentum and community, as students were overwhelmed with school, busy with tasks at home, feeling isolated, or simply didn’t want to be in front of a screen anymore.
As a response to these challenges, Lauren said,
WE PRAYED! God gave us courage to persevere and reminded us to trust in his work, which may not always be visible to us. Our team has been sowing seeds through messaging and calling friends and surprisingly the one-on-one connections have opened up space for conversations we usually wouldn’t have if we were meeting students in person.
She said students in East Asia like to stick together and are hesitant to share their thoughts in group settings, but their team’s focus on making smaller connections helped to break down that barrier to vulnerability.
One morning Kim called a non-Christian student who had a number of questions about who Jesus is. That student’s roommate, who just happened to be a Christian, overheard and joined in the call. That conversation allowed Kim to connect the Christian roommate to a fellowship of other believers on campus, and she consistently attended their Bible study. These two students have made good friends in the fellowship, and the Christian roommate has become bolder in initiating spiritual conversations with her non-Christian roommate.
Joshua was able to encourage a young believer named Nathan to take time to grow in prayer and reading his Bible, at one point suggesting that he read through Colossians. When they connected by video chat the following week, Nathan told Joshua that he had been really impacted by the first chapter in Colossians, which honours Christ as the head of the church. He felt convicted that if he is a Christian, he should be involved in a church.
This shift in attitude was a big answer to prayer.
Unfortunately, due to pandemic restrictions, students were not allowed to leave campus, and so he wasn’t able to gather with other believers immediately. A few weeks later, however, the school administration allowed students to leave once per weekend, and Nathan chose to use that time to attend a small church gathering.
This kind of desire and dedication must come from God.
As the East Asia staff and students persevered through meeting online, God revealed how he was at work as he opened up opportunities. Students began taking initiative in reading the Bible together and planned online outreach events. Even though Joshua, Lauren, and Kim were not there to lead things in-person, new first-year students got connected to the weekly Bible study and God provided a local pastor to help mentor the campus fellowship.
There have been so many answers to prayer!
When you ask the question, “God, what are you doing?,” getting an answer might require asking others to expand your view of the world.
For example, who are some missionaries or ministry workers you could reach out to? My guess is that they would love to tell you their stories of seeing God at work. And perhaps if they are feeling discouraged, you’ll have the opportunity to encourage them by listening or sharing what God’s been doing in your own life.
Finding an answer may also require slowing down and paying attention to God’s word. In Psalm 46:10, God says,
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
This verse is a reminder that God is at work around the world—just as he promised—and that we are blessed as we pay attention to what he is doing and saying.
Let’s make it more of a habit to ask God what he is doing and actually expect an answer.