Servant Life Blog

Ukraine 2013 Ministry Report

In 2008, Radooga Ministries decided to expand their successful camp ministry for teens in Ukraine to reach out to the orphan community. There are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine. Radooga sent their first team of Americans from Servant Life and Ukrainians to an orphan camp outside Kharkov, Ukraine in the summer of 2008. That first year proved to be a challenging experience as the team was met with aggressive children and teens, suspicious of the team’s motives, and hesitant to participate.

Radooga’s ministry remained faithful through the years, returning year after year to that same camp in Kharkov, ministering to that same group of children and teams in partnership with Servant Life. Summer 2013 was Radooga’s 6th consecutive camp there! Over the past few years, Radooga has developed a relationship with a local church in Kharkov, Ukraine who has partnered with American teams to serve the kids. Many Americans have returned year after year to Kharkov and because of this established trust with the orphans, the local church was welcomed and accepted by the kids. Over the past year and half, the progress within this group of orphans has been significant. As the orphans age out of their school, many have now chosen to begin attending and serving in the church rather than turn to a life on the street as most orphans statistically do. Five former orphans returned this past summer to camp to serve as church staff, ministering to orphans as former orphans! Imagine the joy of youth minister John McCants who brought his first team from Covington, LA to the first orphan camp in 2008 and now could see the fruit of this ministry.

While progress with the orphans is remarkable, another result has been the growth of the Ukrainian church’s youth ministry after serving together at orphan camp. After their first summer serving at orphan camp, their own lives were changed. One church member says, “Orphan camp at first changed us…and then as a result of that, the orphans’ lives were changed.” Their teens and young adults are now more united than ever, their relationships are growing amongst each other, and they are serving alongside one another in the church. These exciting things happening in the church are a result of Servant Life sending teams year after year to the orphan camp in Kharkov. Many times over the years, Americans and Ukrainians serving in orphan camp asked, “Why?” Why do we keep going back? What lasting effects will this one week of camp have? What a blessing to see the fruits of the Lord’s work with our very own eyes!

– Oleg Vasilevsky, President and Founder of Radooga in Ukraine

Using Your College Breaks Well

So there I was….the year was 2002 and I was a wide-eyed Freshman in college trying to decide what Spring Break was going to hold. A bunch of my new fraternity brothers were going with some girls down to FL to enjoy some fun in the sun during Spring Break and I had an open invite.  I also knew that our BCM offered two trips for students that were an option.  Freshmen and Sophomores could go serve alongside Mission Arlington outside of Dallas, TX , and upperclassmen could go and live among the homeless in Washington D.C. or Baltimore. I had a strong sense that God had much more for me during that Spring Break than scantily clad co-eds and under-aged partying.  So, I scrounged up $200 (I still have no idea where I came up with $200, except from the Lord) and hopped on a 15-passenger van  headed to Texas to find out what it was that God had for me.  The lessons God taught me from that trip still shape my ministry today. So I’d like to share three of them with you.

  • Our God is a missional God.  The work of Mission Arlington was paradigm-shifting for me. It was the first time I saw the church happening outside of a building with a steeple on top of it.  During that week, I heard the stories of men and women who went every week to host church services in local apartment complexes to work with the local Hispanic communities.  It changed the way I thought about engaging lost people from a model where we just had to work hard to get them to come to us to us simply going to them.
  • Missional Living > Mission Trips.  One of the lessons I learned is that living your day in and day out lives on mission for God is so much better than building a collection of mission trip t-shirts.  Living your life on mission is about who you are, not just what you do once a year.
  • Missions is Global, and that includes your back yard. The beautiful thing about taking a trip to Arlington to work in apartment complexes was that we were awakened to the apartment complexes that existed in our college town.  That group started serving at a regular after school program tutoring at-risk students in our community.

I pray that the Lord would plant a deep desire in college students to use their school breaks well.  This time is so unique in that students aren’t tied down with all of the commitments of family and career and have an especial opportunity to impact the nations with the love of Christ.  I pray the lessons I learned as a 19-year old would be shared with countless students through the ministry of Servant Life.

Brad Barnett, Servant Life board member and Director of Operations at Student Life Inc. 

 

South Africa Testimony

First, I want to say Servant Life did a great job with my trip. Getting to South Africa was much easier than I expected.  I’m so glad I went because when I look back, I see how much I grew in terms of my trust in the Lord.

Also, teaching, playing with, and seeing the light in the children’s eyes will be something I will never forget and always cherish.  I would highly recommend a mission trip through Servant Life; but, I am not God and cannot put that on someone’s heart.  However, to whomever chooses to go, I would tell them to do these things: See Romans 10:14-15 and be convicted to tell the Good News. Then, fully immerse yourself in your mission and step out of the boat because that is where Jesus is.

 

-Lee White, Florence, SC

 

A Note From Our Team

First of all, thank you for taking a moment to hear more about the happenings at Servant Life!  We so appreciate your connection to our ministry. Our 2013-2014 year is off to a great start!  We are currently set to be sending more students than ever into the mission field.  My excitement stems not only from these students answering the call to go, but also from my confidence that these students will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly as they go.

Our highest goal is not students going, but lost people knowing Christ as their Savior.

I’m reminded of Romans 10:13-15, For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!

In a recent meeting, our team united around the truth that we don’t exist to do missions, but to do missions in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a humbling and comforting truth for the believer.  We are incapable in our own strength to change the heart of man, but God is in the business of making things new!  Therefore, we pray to the God who saves and we praise Him for allowing us to be an instrument in His work.  We pray that He will fulfill our hearts desire to see the nations worship Him.  Will you pray with us?

In Christ,

Ryan Childress, Servant Life Director

 

Partner Spotlight: Houston

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 When you hear the words “international missions,” your mind most likely does not think about Houston, Texas. Maybe that will change when you hear that there are 350 identified people groups living in the city of Houston. Houston has quickly become the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.  You have the opportunity to partner with one of Servant Life’s missionary partners, Global Frontier Missions, while engaging in international missions without even leaving the country.

Global Frontier Missions (GFM) had it’s humble beginnings in Virginia in 2000. Today, this statement guides GFM’s mission: “Global Frontier Missions (GFM) is a movement of Christ-centered communities dedicated to mobilizing, training, and multiplying disciples and churches to reach the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached people groups of the earth.”  Global Frontier Missions is committed to leading short-term mission trips in Houston to work among the refugees.  Servant Life is dedicated to partnering with GFM in that commitment. Short-term mission teams will receive training in cultural sensitivity, missions strategy, building relationships with people from other countries, as well as the biblical basis of missions. The outreach portion of the trip may include backyard Bible clubs, block parties, teaching ESL, community service projects, and/or relationship evangelism.  You can be a part of taking the gospel to other nations, including your own! Will you join Global Frontier Missions and Servant Life this summer? The world is waiting.

*You can learn more about the ministry of  GFM by visiting www.globalfrontiermissions.org

Mission Trip Testimony – Mexico

In 2008, I loaded onto a bus in Houston, Texas with about twenty other college students to begin our long trek to Chihuahua, Mexico. I was embarking on my very first mission trip and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Maybe having no expectations was ideal considering sometimes when expectations aren’t met frustration often occurs. Nonetheless, I was excited for the experience that lied ahead.

The mission trip consisted of vacation bible school activities at a local church in Chihuahua, some minor construction projects, and the opportunity to establish relationships with local teenagers.  Even though there was a language barrier, my favorite aspect of the trip was time spent with the children. The little Spanish I knew from high school did not prove to be very helpful in conversations, but the Lord definitely was working despite my inability to communicate.

Looking back at pictures from my time there, I am reminded of how much the Lord taught me and how He used the people of Chihuahua, Mexico, to begin stirring a desire in my heart to go to the nations. I was exposed to something bigger than myself. I was exposed to the world beyond my college town.I was exposed to another people group made in the image of God.

For the first time, I could put a face to the needs around the world. The statistics became names of people instead of just numbers on a computer screen or those heard in a sermon. This was a life-altering realization for me as a young nineteen year old.

Since that first trip to Mexico, I have had the opportunity to serve in Italy, New York, and Kenya. The Lord continues to stir my affections for the nations as I prayerfully and by the Lord’s grace strive to walk in obedience to His call on my life. Whether it’s going, giving or praying, I now know I can always play an active role in making His name known to the world.

-Danielle Lee, Servant Life Coordinator

Core Value: One-on-One Relationships

Through the years, The Lord has led Servant Life to four Core Values that shape all the work we do.  They are: Gospel-centered ministry, long-term strategies, one-on-one relationships, and a focus on youth and children.  Every missionary in our global network is prayerfully and specifically selected by the type of ministry they are doing.  We are highlighting each of these Core Values in a four part series.  Let’s talk about “One-On-One Relationships.”

Ministry is 100% about relationships. Whether that relationship is with a missionary in Ecuador, the person sitting next to us on a plane, or a child in a remote village in East Asia – all of these relationships are conduits through which ministry occurs.

Jesus told his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28:18 and we view this act of “making disciples” as sharing life in Christ with the world.  The primary method that The Lord has chosen to spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth is the voice of His people (Romans 10).  We are his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Therefore, our trips are structured in such a way to leverage the time we have towards developing relationships with lost souls that can open the door to Gospel conversations.  Though this is a simple command, it can be an uncomfortable one to obey.  Sharing life often pulls us out of our comfort zone; but, within these one-on-one relationships, people hear and experience the Gospel.

Our goal is to provide mission experiences that allow students to have extensive, saturated time to build relationships with those they are serving.  Whether it is serving as support staff at a camp, ministering to orphans, or teaching English to a refugee from an unreached country, we want trip participants to form meaningful relationships as a platform to share the life-giving Good News of Jesus Christ.  Sure, it would be easier to go overseas, build a house, and come back home.  You would probably even feel good about yourself, but people are not saved by seeing acts of kindness.  Sinners are saved by repenting and believing that Christ’s finished work on the cross is their only hope from righteous condemnation.  Will you tell them the Good News that they may believe?

Romans 10:13-15

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

– Ryan Childress, Servant Life Director

2014’s Global Impact

Our team at Servant Life could not be more excited about what is on the horizon for 2014. This year looks to be one of our largest years of mobilizing students to go make disciples as we send workers to partner with our global network in 13 locations.  In addition to the traditional summer months, we have groups going to serve in the spring and fall and have expanded to include more college students.  While it is fun to talk about going, we are ready to get into the season of having more actually on the field.

A few weeks ago, after returning from a visit to Nicaragua I heard the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  I am sure it is a tune you are familiar with, at least the famous chorus: Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world. No doubt that is rich; but, there is so much more to the song that often is left unsung.  Here is the rest of this classic:

Jesus calls the children dear, “Come to me and never fear,
For I love the little children of the world;
I will take you by the hand,
Lead you to the better land,
For I love the little children of the world.”

Jesus died for all the children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus died for all the children of the world.

Jesus is the Shepherd true,
And He’ll always stand by you,
For He loves the little children of the world;
He’s a Savior great and strong,
And He’ll shield you from the wrong,
For He loves the little children of the world.

I am coming, Lord, to Thee,
And Your soldier I will be,
For You love the little children of the world;
And Your cross I’ll always bear,
And for You I’ll do and dare,
For You love the little children of the world.

As I have spent time with our partners, I have witnessed firsthand and also heard stories of many children and teenagers around the world that no doubt have been done wrong by the context in which they find themselves.  Even so, in those situations we see the hope that is found in and through Christ.

So as we launch into a new year with new opportunities, we celebrate so many that have stepped up and are willing to do and dare in 2014! At Servant Life we are thrilled to play a small role in accomplishing the Great Commission.  We encourage you to join in the action and be a part of what God is doing around the globe!

 

– J. Roger Davis, Servant Life Executive Director 

Core Value – Long Term Strategies

Through the years, The Lord has led Servant Life to four Core Values that shape all the work we do.  They are: Gospel-centered ministry, long-term strategies, one-on-one relationships, and a focus on youth and children.  Every missionary in our global network is prayerfully and specifically selected by their devotion to these principles.  We are highlighting each of these Core Values in a four part series.  The next value is “Long-Term Strategies.”

While our team was visiting one of the missionaries in our network, the missionary told us a story about a church from The States that came to “work with them”.   When they arrived the American church insisted on building a community center for the ministry to work out of.  The missionary tried to explain to the Americans that this was not a need for the ministry, but they were determined.  When the Americans left after that week they had only halfway finished the building.  The lonely, half-finished building outside a remote village in Central America was left until the next short-term team came to serve.  Since the missionary had no need for the building, or funds to complete it, construction ended and that next short-term team began to deconstruct the building.

Short-term mission trips must happen within a long-term ministry strategy. 

Servant Life partners with missionaries and national ministries that maintain a consistent presence and work towards long-term, Gospel-centered, goals.  We are called by Christ to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  In order to see true discipleship, relationships that are formed during trips must continue past the 7-10 days that participants are on the ground.  Therefore, Servant Life sends students to serve our network of global disciple-makers in whatever way best fits their needs.  We exist to support the work in which they have invested their lives in, the same way the Philippians supported Paul in Philippians 1:3-7.  Will you help us support the missionaries in our global network?

– Ryan Childress, Servant Life Director