Servant Life Blog

Servant Life is thrilled to be partnering with Clubhouse Guatemala in Guatemala City.  Clubhouse Guatemala is a Christ-centered ministry that desires to reach the lost of Guatemala. Clubhouse was started in 2003 by Mike and Carla Parker. nepal . The Parker’s desire is to go into villages and reach children and adults through block parties, shoe and clothing distribution, face paint, cotton candy, vacation bible school, and many other creative ways to show the love of Christ.

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As the ministry has developed over the years, the Parkers have handed more and more leadership over to the native staff from Guatemala. The Guatemalan leaders have always been a key to the success of the ministry, but they need help from short-term teams to support their ministry and to build the local church!

So far this summer, Servant Life has sent 100 people to serve alongside Clubhouse Guatemala. There is also an A1eight Project team in Guatemala all summer leading our short term teams. The groups have been part of leading Vacation Bible School, feeding the locals, and participating in community home visits. We can’t wait for the summer of 2016 to hopefully send even more people to Guatemala! For more information about Guatemala and how you can be involved, visit our website.

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Years ago I began dreaming about Servant Life helping both our global partners and also deepening relationships with college students, churches and campus ministries throughout the country.  As I just scratched notes in my journal and Evernote and prayed about what it could be, I continued to go back to the instructions from Jesus just before he ascended into Heaven that we find in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  

As time passed and we talked as a team, with partners, and with various college students, we prayerfully came to the conclusion that we would launch a new option allowing for college students and young adults to serve for longer periods of time each summer with one of our (currently) 10 global partners.  The A1eight Project was born.

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Participants…

  • Experience disciple-making in a global context for their entire summer (project lengths range from 6-12 weeks).
  • Explore and learn through various missions related resources.
  • Become a part of a small team that serves alongside a missionary serving on the field.
  • Lead and host short-term teams that come to serve with you in your context.
  • Are a part of advancing the gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission. 

This summer we have two pilot teams serving in Guatemala and Toronto for the entire summer.  It has been a joy to hear weekly updates from them as they serve with short-term teams, learn from missionaries on the field and engage locals, both in villages in Guatemala and on college campuses in Toronto.  The diversity of our world is being engaged with the gospel daily.

Here are a few snapshots from some of the updates:

From the Toronto team – “We have been able to sit down in these conversations (with mostly Chinese students) and intentionally walk through the gospel with them, and while some have been less receptive to it, there have been a few who are very interested and want to learn more. Eddie* came to church with us this last Sunday and Emma* asked for a Bible and we were able to get her one, so that was exciting. Guang* and Emma have also voiced an interest in coming to church with us on Sunday as well. God is good!”

“Overall the Lord has continued to remind us of our need for Him and has graciously been showing us how He is moving here in Toronto. We ask that you continue to pray for our work on campus, the church, and the kid’s camp. Please lift the students that we are meeting with one-on-one that their interest in the gospel would continue to grow into a profession of faith. Finally, pray for our team that we would go into this next week of camp with the same joy and attitude of the first one and not allow comparison to corrupt how we view the importance of this next week.”

(* Names changed for security)

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From the Guatemala team – “This week was great to have a Servant Life team and to see a full week. We were able to go to Zone 7 this week which is an area in Guatemala City, to do a VBS in a school. The team split up and did Crafts, Recreation, and a Bible lesson. There were about 320 kids 1st-6th grade. On one of the days, a few of the kids on the team shared their testimony with the older kids and many older boys prayed to receive Christ. It was an awesome sight to see.”

“Please pray for the people of Veremina whom we visited and spent time with this week, for their physical needs as well as spiritual needs. Pray that the children there, as well as all over Guatemala, will come to find Jesus as their Provider and their source of worth instead of worldly possessions, gangs, or prostitution.”

Our A1eight Project teams have experienced some great weeks. They’ve also had their fair share of challenges. Serving through international missions is incredible, but hard. You can’t always tell from an Instagram or tweet that there are tough days. It’s important in those difficult times to remember who God is and why He has you where he does. Guatemala team member, Elizabeth, has this to say about following The Lord in the midst of the hard days:

“This week was different in many ways. We were all three able to experience what the ministry looks like at Camp Calvary and be in a village that does not have many type of christian influences. It was a week that I could tell God was working in great ways in the area, but that also meant that Satan was working just as hard to stop all the good that was happening. This week was hard, but it was also good for us to go through. It brought us closer as a staff and as interns. We learned how to be flexible and adapt to the team and their needs whatever that might be. We were exhausted from days in the sun and long nights of prep work for VBS, but I think we would all agree that it helped us truly rely on God for strength and patience. God was at work this week and He is always in the end successful no matter how defeated and frustrated we might feel.

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The Lord has done incredible work during this pioneer summer of The A1eight Project. Please join us in praying for those our teams have come in contact with and that they will finish their assignment well. We are expectant for future summers!

If you’d like more information about the A1eight Project, check out our website or find us on Twitter/Instagram: @A1eightProject.

– J. Roger Davis, Executive Director of Servant Life

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The following post originally appeared here on Collegiate Collective’s blog.

Mike Lopez, the director of IMB Students, provides his perspective on the pivotal role college ministry can play in the Great Commission.

As He prepared seventy eager followers for their first mission trip, Jesus met with them for training and instruction. He encouraged them with these words “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2 ESV). As collegiate leaders, our ministries can play a critical role in answering this prayer. Let’s look at four truths Jesus’ words reveal that will revolutionize your thinking about the Great Commission.

  1. The harvest is HERE

Jesus clearly announces the reality of the harvest. This is not just a farm analogy. There is reaping to take place. It is real. It exists. In another talk with his disciples Jesus tells them ‘…lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.’ (John 4:35 ESV). Take a look. It’s all around you. How can you miss it? It is here.

  1. The harvest is HUGE

The harvest is real and it is also ‘plentiful’, great and abundant. Jesus isn’t referring to fields that have been ravaged by drought. He is talking about an abundant crop, heavy with fruit, ready to be harvested.

  1. The harvest is HIS.

Jesus refers to Himself as the “Lord of the harvest” and talks about sending laborers into “His harvest”. Jesus is the Lord of the harvest. The fields, the crops and the fruit all belong to Him. The harvest is His, not ours.

  1. The harvest needs HARVESTERS.

The harvest is HERE, the harvest is HUGE and the harvest is HIS. But here’s the challenge: the harvest is not a harvest until it’s harvested. So what’s missing? Harvesters, laborers, workers, committed servants who are willing to follow Him anywhere.

Jesus instructs us to ‘pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” He doesn’t ask us to pray for more harvest. The harvest is already here in abundance, and the harvest belongs to Him. Jesus asks us to pray for workers, for laborers, for those who will work in the field, looking for ripe fruit, searching for people of peace whose hearts are already prepared to hear the Good News.

Some fields have an abundance of harvesters. Many fields have none. From the local college campus to the uttermost parts of the earth, the harvest awaits. Throughout the world millions of willing hearts are waiting for a harvester to share the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Christian college students throughout North America (and the world) are being discipled and trained to share the hope they have found in Jesus. Pray that these harvesters would be obedient to Christ; bold in the proclamation of His message; and faithful to His mission among every language, people, tribe and nation.

Servant Life is excited for a new partnership with Mission: Bulgaria, a group of believers with a heart for the country and people of Bulgaria. Co-founder Ben Nelson answers a few questions for us about what it’s like to serve in Bulgaria.

Obviously there are great physical and spiritual needs all over the world.  What led you to specifically be involved in Bulgaria?

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Bulgaria holds a special place in my heart. In 2009, my community and I went to lead worship for a week in the Roma villages of Bulgaria. Soon after we arrived we realized we were taking part in the early stages of an amazing spiritual Reformation – a Reformation that was producing evangelical leaders from all areas of Bulgaria, working together to make a difference for the kingdom in their nation. The Bulgarian culture has been stripped of biblical principles after decades of socialist and communist rule. Communism fell in 1989 but the oppression of the Roma (Gypsy) people has not.

Every day we must ask ourselves “What is the good news for our community?” and then we must know that the gospel covers it. The good news for Bulgaria and the Roma people is “Hope”. THE GOSPEL COVERS THAT! In the midst of poverty, persecution, hunger, and segregation GOD IS WITH YOU.

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

WE LEVERAGE EVERYTHING IN ORDER TO GIVE THEM HOPE!

What kind of ministry have you been able to engage in with short-term teams?

One of my favorite things about Mission Bulgaria is that when you go on a short-term trip you become a part of a year-round family. Once you’ve made your impact that week you become an extension of what God is doing in the country through our missionaries year round. Mission Bulgaria is not just a one week out of the year mission but a year round partnership to see lives shaped and changed by the gospel for the kingdom.

Mission Bulgaria focuses on these 3 main areas: PRAY. LOVE. UNITE.

PRAY: TOGETHER WE PRAY. WE PRAY THAT GOD WOULD POUR HIS LOVE AND FAVOR OUT ON BULGARIA AND THE ROMANIES.

LOVE: WE GO. WE GO AND LOVE. JAMES 2:19 SAYS THAT FAITH WITHOUT ACTION IS DEAD! WE ACT ON OUR PRAYERS.

UNITE: IN ALL THESE THINGS WE HOPE TO HELP UNITE THE BULGARIANS AND THE ROMANIES WITH CHRIST AND EACH OTHER.

What we do:

Food distribution, church planting, children’s festivals, orphan care, worship services, mission trips, Christmas shoeboxes, Prayers over homes and families, English lessons, food stations and much more.

Ministry in a foreign context is almost impossible without establishing trust among native people.  How have you done this?

Have you ever met someone and instantly know they would become one of your closest friends? When I met Dinko, a missionary from Bulgaria, I knew that God had aligned our hearts. After meeting Dinko, his family, and his team we knew that we needed to partner with their existing ministry in Bulgaria. In 2009 we partnered with “Care for All” ministries. In the past 12 years “Care for All” has:

-Planted over 43 churches

-Provided funding for 23 medical operations for Roma children

-Built 17 church buildings

-Established 5 feeding stations,

-Conducted 100’s of training seminars for Ministers

-Taught countless English and computer courses

-Provided daily ministry counseling

-Facilitated ministry expansion into Siberia, Turkey and Chicago

What long-term impact do you hope to accomplish with short-term teams?

No one goes on a “short-term” mission trip with Mission Bulgaria. A week spent in Bulgaria truly has a lasting impact. A short-term mission trip becomes a catalyst for the year round ministries in Bulgaria. Churches are planted, leaders are encouraged, non- believers come to hear good news, children are loved, orphans are held, and lives truly are changed forever.  A short-term trip with Mission Bulgaria provides an opportunity, for both those going and those receiving, to witness the love and fellowship of believers with in a different culture and context. It allows us the chance to see how God’s power and might crosses all borders, and it is proof that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. (Rom 1:16)

Once you have gone on a week-long trip with Mission Bulgaria, you are a part of the family. This family provides for missions in Bulgaria year round.

Do you have any favorite moments from your time in Bulgaria?

I have a few. One if my favorite moments is always the orphanages. We partner with an organization called “Create a Smile” which provides medical surgeries for children who cannot afford them.  Because of this partnership we are one of the few religious organizations allowed into the orphanages. Each year we spend time with these children. We held a HUGE children’s festival with cotton candy, popcorn, toys, music and more. Each trip we watch these children grow up, we know that each short-term missionary is having a huge impact on the lives of these orphans.

Another one of my favorite moments is when we were in a village doing an outside worship service. As we taught the gospel and encouraged the believers we saw a group of men sitting across the street in a mule drawn buggy. You could tell they were listening to what we were saying. Afterwards they approached one of our missionaries, Stefko, and started asking questions. I asked Stefko, “What are they saying?”. He said, “ They want to know who this Jesus guy is and if he’s coming next week?”… They had never heard the name Jesus at all. My heart was broken and delighted at the same time. God is doing something HUGE and I am just grateful to help play a small part.

Servant Life is sending short-term teams to serve in Bulgaria starting summer 2016. Cost is $799 and includes:

Housing
Meals
Mission Activities
In-country Transportation
Traveler’s Insurance
Training Videos
T-shirt
Pre, During, and Post-trip Devotionals

Click here for more information and a list of trip dates.

Situated outside of Managua, Nicaragua, Centro ABEM ministers to hundreds of youth and children on a regular basis. In 2014, Servant Life began a partnership with Centro ABEM to send students to join in answering the call to go and make disciples of all nations – including Nicaragua!

In Nicaragua, Servant Life partners with missionaries Jason and Beth Lang and family. The Langs and Centro ABEM have built wonderful relationships with the surrounding community. They’ve even established a relationship with a local Compassion International project. While in country, Servant Life teams serve alongside the Langs and minister to many youth and children. For the most part, teams teach Bible lessons (with a translator), lead recreation games, tell their testimonies, help with crafts, and assist in behind the scenes work such as clean up.

The ministry of Centro ABEM seeks to share the story of hope, build communities of faith, and serve the people of Nicaragua with love. Come be part of this life changing experience as you share the gospel of Jesus Christ in Nicaragua! Click here to learn more about the ministry of the Langs and Centro ABEM.

I don’t believe that distance or difficulty should ever be what prevents us from going on a mission trip. Christ commanded us to make disciples, and there are no “exception clauses” in my Bible about the countries that are far away and hard to reach. At the same time, I have to admit, the trip to Costa Rica sure was an easy one.

The flight from Atlanta to San Jose, Costa Rica took a little over three hours, so we landed in- country just after noon. Our Servant Life Partner, Joe Pent. Jr of La Montaña Christian Camp, met us at the airport and we traveled about an hour and a half to the La Montaña encampment. Spending time with Joe is a treat in itself because Joe is a visionary and a man with great passion. He was born in Costa Rica and spent much of his youth there. He came back to the United States for college and served as a youth pastor before returning to Costa Rica to continue spreading the gospel there and eventually start La Montana. He has been back in Costa Rica for 15 years now, and his love for his country is evident.

Last year about 15,000 Costa Rican teenagers came through La Montaña, which is an incredible testimony to the quality of their ministry. Joe and his staff have made the camp a place that teenagers want to be. There are incredible recreation opportunities: “the blob,” a giant water slide, a bike ramp that launches into a lake (how cool is that?), options to play volleyball, basketball, foosball, ping pong, inline skating, and perhaps the most exciting option of them all —a mud run adventure course! But the beauty of La Montaña is not found in these activities. The focal point of the camp is the good news of Jesus Christ. Students participate in Bible studies and devotions, and each night there is a worship service for the whole camp, led by dynamic speakers and worship leaders.

I fear that Costa Rica is often overlooked by Christians because it is known for its nice beaches, fishing opportunities, and tourism. It is often labeled as a “Christian” country. However, only about 15% of the country is evangelical Christian. The majority have inherited Christianity or Catholicism as a cultural tradition, which means they have no problem talking about God, but could not clearly articulate what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ and to trust in him alone for salvation. These teenagers want to be at La Montaña because it is a fun camp, but it is also a place where they will clearly hear the gospel message and have an opportunity to surrender their lives to Christ.

Joe estimates that as many as 50,000 teenagers have trusted in Christ through the ministry of La Montaña over the years. When asked, he said that he has no plans to retire from this ministry. “Maybe I’ll retire when every teenager in Costa Rica has responded to the gospel. Wait, no, nevermind,” he corrected himself. “Then I will move on to the rest of the world who hasn’t heard.”

Don’t you see why we love Joe’s attitude and the ministry of his team? La Montaña would be a fantastic place for any group to serve. Your team could work as the support staff for one of these camps, spending time with recreation, in the kitchens, helping with the mud run course, and ultimately building relationships that point to the greatest relationship of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.

Zac Condie, Servant Life Director

2014 was a great year of mobilizing students and advancing the gospel with our partners around the world:

  • We had 17 partners that are serving all 52- weeks of the year on five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, North & South America).
  • We saw thousands of children and teenagers hear the gospel and be ministered to in their culture and context.
  • We had our first team work with a school that consisted of over 20 unreached people groups in Asia (amazing to be with students that have never even heard the name of Jesus!).
  • We solidified existing relationships and began new ones in countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kenya and Toronto, Canada.
  • We launched the A1eight Project, a missions serving opportunity for college-aged students.
  • We mobilized the most students over a one-year period since Servant Life began in 1999.

2014 also had its challenges…

  • The conflict in Ukraine greatly impacted our in-country partners (Radooga) and groups that were signed up to serve there changed their plans.
  • Some of our work in Asia had to be diverted in the last stages of planning due to political (and I would add spiritual) hurdles.
  • Ebola concerns have caused many groups planning on serving in Africa to cancel or adjust their plans (disappointingly, even groups in East Africa and South Africa far from where the crisis has been).

Recently, while reading in Galatians, I was reminded, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap, if we do not give up.” Our team continues to have great passion for the task at hand and are praying that 2015 will bring a great number of students willing to be a part of the Great Commission.

In 2015, we will see:

  • The most students and adults to serve with our global partners in a summer season.
  • A1eight Project summer missionaries serving alongside our partners in numerous locations.
  • A new relationship and opportunity for short-term teams to serve in Bulgaria with Mission Bulgaria.
  • New ministry partners coming on board.

It is exciting to be a part of a group serving every day to help mobilize students in response to the Great Commission. I want to encourage you to continue to pray for us, our partners, for those who will respond to the call to go serve, and for the people groups we will be engaging with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also encourage you to join our team by prayerfully considering partnering with Servant Life through giving, either a one time gift or as a monthly teammate. Servant Life is a 501c3 organization and donations are tax deductible. You can contact us to help get that started or you can join our team at www.servantlife.com.

For all of us that know Christ we should look for every opportunity possible to make Him known in our homes, communities, country, and in every corner of the globe!

J. Roger Davis, Executive Director, Servant Life

The World Is Waiting

Thank you for taking a moment to read more about what is happening at Servant Life.  This is an exciting season of growth and transition for our ministry, and we praise God for all that he is doing among the nations and for allowing Servant Life to be a part of Kingdom advancement.  Thank you for your partnership, encouragement, and support of our ministry!

We are looking back to the summer and thanking God for allowing around 450 students to be a witness for Christ to the nations in 2014.  But more importantly, we are looking ahead to 2015 and preparing for our biggest ministry year ever.  Servant Life has added partners in four new locations next summer—Toronto, Dallas, Guatemala, and Kenya—bringing us to 17 different partners in 14 countries.  Each of these partners has expressed tremendous gratitude for the support of our short-term teams, and we look forward to continuing to serve them well.

Each time we add a new partner or send another student out to serve, it is a big moment.  Not big because we like to see larger numbers tied to our organization, but big because we serve a mighty God who does incredible things when we live surrendered to his Lordship.  It is also an incredible testimony to the world around us when a teenager turns from the pursuit of worldly passions and begins to live sacrificially for the spread of the gospel.  As 2 Cor. 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”  God made reconciliation possible through Christ, but chooses to use us to spread this hope to the world.

Pastor David Platt recently challenged our congregation with a wonderful reminder.  We continue to live for the glory of God among the nations because Christ has commissioned us, but a day is coming when we will talk less about unreached people and more about the return of King Jesus.  Matthew 25:14 says that “the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Right now we labor for all nations to grow in their knowledge of Christ, but a day is coming when the world will know— and then Christ will make his glorious return.

Our nation needs to hear the gospel.  Every nation needs to hear the gospel.  The world is waiting.  How will you be faithful to live for the glory of God among all nations in the year to come?

– Zac Condie, Servant Life Director

Global Strategy In Youth Culture

The core conviction of the mandate to be a global disciple is most accurately stated in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.  Simply stated: Love God (Great Commandment) and Love People (Great Commission).

The fusion of these two foundational principles set forth a global strategy for every church, ministry, and individual to extend its reach to the nations.   This kingdom driven mindset points each member of the family of God to maximize their efforts collectively through personal evangelism, church planting, and local/global missions.  The clarity of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment moves each person to more personal, practical involvement in the mission of God, leaving no margin for passiveness for the unredeemed.   Subsequently, there has to be a paradigm shift in how success is measured.  Pragmatically, this changes the “win” from “coverts to disciples” and “members that meet at the church to becoming members that are the church.”

Therefore, the Acts 1:8 strategy becomes the grid in which each follower of Jesus evaluates his or her own influence.  So in order to be effective in mobilizing people to ministry and missions, one’s Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth must be identified and engaged. Now, these concepts mentioned above have been debated, discussed, and diagrammed for years; but God waits for a generation to seriously embrace this invitation.

This is the very reason why I have committed my life to working with teenagers!  The repetitive question I am constantly asked is “How long will you keep working with teenagers?”  My answer is the same every time: “I honestly believe that this generation of young people will take the gospel to the ends of the earth.”  They are the most globally connected generation that has ever existed and combined with a burden for justice they have become a generation of reckoning.  However, theological illiteracy has challenged them to work through relativism and absolute truth.   However, there is a resurgence and reformation amongst these young warriors that has caused them to reject the American dream and embrace the Kingdom. They have collectively made it clear they seek to have a life of impact, rather than invest their lives in the non-eternal.

Therefore, the mission of Servant Life is to mobilize students for more than a cause.  Instead, the call is for students to be consumed with the reality that God is calling them to love Him Supremely and others Sacrificially.  So, they reject the apathy of our generation and seek to be marked by the cross of Calvary that beckons them to die to all they hold dear, even their own dreams.  For what purpose?  THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

– Ed Newton, Executive Director of the Lift Tour (Student Leadership University) and Servant Life ambassador

Partner Spotlight: England

In the fall of 2011, Mike Taylor and his family relocated from Texas to the picturesque Tees Valley of Northern England.  While England is not considered an “unreached” people group, only 3% of the population claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Knowing this, the Taylor family chose to heed the call to reach the lost in England, where there are two generations living in a post-Christian world.  Now, Mike serves as the Director of UK – USA Ministries  and helps engage people in cross-cultural ministry.

UK – USA Ministries operates through vision trips, short term mission trips, church planting, mentoring of youth pastors, and gap year placement.  Of these, Servant Life partners with UK-USA Ministries in short term mission trips. Groups participate in three facets during a short term trip: schools, sports ministry, and servant evangelism

Schools

England has mandatory Religious Education classes in public schools.  UK-USA Ministries has taken advantage of this mandate to bring Christianity to young people in England.  Short term teams have the chance to share testimonies and help teach in public schools.  Through this, short term teams serve long term missionaries as they walk alongside and bring the gospel to young people in England.

Sports Ministry

UK-USA Ministries uses sports, particularly soccer, to reach young people. Through playing sports and teaching skill sets, doors are being opened and relationships are being built.  Short term teams will get the opportunity to engage youth in the Camp of Champions put on by UK-USA Ministries in different areas of the Tees Valley.

Servant Evangelism

“Servant Evangelism” is exactly what the name suggests.  Through this, teams will be the hands and feet of Jesus to people in the surrounding community.  It makes quite the impression on someone to provide a seemingly “random” service.  However, we know that nothing is random in the Kingdom of God and small acts can open big doors to share the gospel.

To learn more about UK-USA Ministries or to find out how you can be involved click here.