Is this forreal?

There’s a first time for everything…

I never imagined that I’d be sitting in this chair writing a blog about my summer as a missionary in Brunswick, GA.  If you’d told me 4 years ago that I’d be in my hometown as a senior in college working on Prince Street, I would’ve laughed in your face.  Eight months ago I would have never believed that I’d be given what’s basically my dream job before even finishing my degree, while working with the kids I love.  Yet, here I am writing to you now.

My life did not turn out the way I’d planned, in fact, my goal was to move overseas as quickly as possible to fulfill the Great Commission.  However, though this was not my plan the One who has my whole life in His hands has orchestrated every step that’s brought me to Golden Isles Ministries.  My love for the kids of Hopkins Homes is not something I could muster up, but was the beautiful and deep love of the Father poured into me.  With that being said, my hope is that while you read this blog, the image of a college girl who’s wildly passionate for the people of downtown Brunswick but also wandering around because she obviously does not have everything figured out, is painted in your head.

I do not know where I’m going.  I don’t know what the rest of this summer will look like.  However, I do know this, for the first time in my life I know that I am in this place for a reason higher than myself and I’m trusting God each step of the way.

Bear with me, we’re in for a summer unlike any other.

– Sarah

Week Six: Summer Staff

The Three Musketeers

On week six of the summer we didn’t have a group staying with us so Stephanie, Will, and I had a week of Bible Clubs and mission projects by ourselves.  I believe this was a crucial and refreshing week for the three of us because we were able to spend time together sharing and laughing about the summer so far and encourage one another for the upcoming weeks.  We spent this time working at Shady Acres in the morning and Hopkins Homes in the afternoon, trying to connect with the kids on a more personal level than what was available during previous weeks.  I won’t lie, this was one of the toughest Bible Clubs weeks because we had no extra help, no one to entertain whiIMG_1288le we prepped, and just not enough people to devote time and attention to each kid the way they needed.

This week, though many of you don’t know, was hard for our Bible Club kids as well because they truly missed the previous teams.  Week six proved the impact every team makes when they visit the Golden Isles.  Bible club kids were constantly asking us when the “church people” (many they would call by name) were coming back to visit.  Our kids remembered each joke, laugh, smile, silly song, and serious conversation they’ve had throughout the summer.  Kids as young as Mari from H.H. were telling me what the stained-glass cross craft meant and why it was important.  Spending this time with our kids, and seeing the seeds that were planted by so many of you sprout and overflow out of them was incredible.  I’m so thankful for week six, one that was full of rest, humility, exhaustion, and peace all mixed together.  Our God is so good and kind to us and He showed that in the things Stephanie, Will and I learned during this week.

– Sarah

Week Five: FBC Brunswick

Backyard Bible Club

Happy 4th of July week from Golden Isles Ministries! This week is a little different because our group is First Baptist of Brunswick’s youth group.  This one is very special to me because I’m working with youth that I grew up with back in the day.  These volunteers were little elementary and middle schoolers in youth group when the IMG_1198children from Hopkins Homes first began walking to our campus to hangout.  I’m going to give you a little more context: the whole reason I am still living and going to school, working, and building community in Brunswick is because of the children at Hopkins Homes.  When they started showing up to youth group and hanging around during lessons, playing basketball, and following the high schoolers around like puppies, my whole life changed.  Initially, I was hesitant to interact and build relationships with them but then Jesus pierced my heart and burdened me with the love He has for these sweet kids.  I never thought my heart would fall for these children from my hometown, running around loud and crazy at youth group.  Then Jesus showed me they needed Him and His love just as much as everyone else, and if I’m learning about His love then I should be sharing it as well.

So you see, this week was my most anticipated.  I had the biggest joy to watch the church I grew up at love and share the Gospel with my kiddos.  To watch these youth tell Bible stories, run until they’re beat, and cry on Friday to say goodbye to the same little H.H. kiddos I started bible club with so many years ago was the most incredible thing.  I was so thankful to experience this week with First Baptist and to watch them have the same heart for these kids.

Week Four: Ephesus Baptist

Sorry Will and Stephanie, I'm splitting you up.

Now we’re in our last week of June, and this is one I’ve kind of been dreading since April.  Here we go with our largest group of the summer ( 45+ people ) on top of me being away for the week working with Superwow to plan missions for over 550 teens.  Talk about a crazy week.  This week not only pushed my boundaries, tested my trust, but also made me really and truly rely on Jesus to not just “get me through the week” but help me thrive.  I did not know how to really prepare for this week, I knew it would push me, but IMG_0780what would that really mean?  Week four showed me what it looks like to trust my team and have confidence in not only what I have taught Stephanie and Will, but trust that they are diligently listening to God and where He is directing them.  I learned that patience and communication are key in ministry (and everyday life) second to trusting Jesus… It’s funny how “trusting Jesus” is a popular topic… With numbers growing from Superwow and our GIM group splitting into 4 teams, it’s easy to say we were all tired and honestly ready for Friday.  With that being said, week four was also one of the most growing and memorable weeks of the summer.  I can still see every detail of the days, and the faces of our eager missionaries ready to hit the field and share the Gospel.

IMG_0389       I was stretched thin and in every which way on week four.  I depended on Will and Stephanie to lead well, love like Jesus, and communicate like they never have before.  I can say that I was not only changed, but I saw two completely new missionaries after this week, as well.  I saw a new found confidence in Will and Stephanie’s eyes.  If June didn’t break them, nothing would.  I’m so proud of them and the leadership they portrayed over one of my most chaotic and exhausting weeks.  On nights when I didn’t arrive back to the bunkhouse until 1am and even on nights when I took them on the 30 minute adventure to Jekyll at midnight, there was never a complaint, never a moment of aggravation or surrender.  God had my back the whole time, even when groups got lost, cancelled plans, and added 250 more than originally planned.  He was (and is) a solid Rock.  He never deserves our doubt or hesitation.  He is always dependable even when life is forever flowing and changing, He knows exactly what’s around the riverbend. *que Pocahontas soundtrack*

– Sarah

Week Three: Centerpoint Brunswick

Locally grown missionaries.

We are currently in week three, the middle of June, and the missionaries are starting to feel the weight of the summer and this Georgia heat.  Previously, we’ve worked with groups traveling to Brunswick for missions, but now we have the opportunity to work with Centerpoint Church, located here in our town.

Centerpoint gathered together youth and adult volunteers to work in Hopkins Homes for the week, and wow what a week.  I’m so thankful for the local churches who have supported and joined us this summer.  It’s one thing to go away on a mission trip and possibly never see them again, it’s another to go out into your home, your community and witness to your neighbors.  I watched teens, moms and dads, teachers, and pastors  love on people they pass by every day but never noticed.  IMG_0989

Centerpoint did, in my opinion, one of the hardest mission outreaches because they did it in their own back yard.  How often do we pass someone on the streets and never stop and think “hey, I wonder if they know Jesus?” yet we are so eager to pack our bags and travel across the states, across the globe to share the Gospel with complete strangers.  Don’t get me wrong, my heart is and always will be for foreign missions, but come on people. WAKE UP.  We pass by the lost every single day. When you go to the grocery store. Take your children to school.  Walk into your work place.  Everywhere you go, you will encounter someone who has no clue about this Jesus dude we love to talk about.  Centerpoint understood this concept that has burdened my heart for years.  I have nothing but admiration and respect for churches and individuals who see this harsh reality and decide enough is enough.  I work and live in the Golden Isles; this is and will forever be my home.  I see the lost and hurting every single day, I see the people impacted by the love of Centerpoint church.  They went into their community, out of their comfort zones, witnessed a high speed chase (just a normal day in the Wick, right?), and loved fiercely.  Our downtown will forever be changed and I’m so grateful to have witnessed what I believe will become a new mindset and movement in this small town.

– Sarah

Week Two : Lakeside Baptist

Can I just sing this blog post?

Can we just talk about the fact that this group was so lively, energetic, and flat out hilarious?! This musical group brought the A-team, their youth that is.  The missionaries on this trip were so thoughtful, dedicated, mission-minded, and humble to serve with Golden Isles Ministries.  Days were long, the rain brought countless mosquitoes (those little buggers tested my nerves the whole summer btw) and really challenged schedules.

Week two I saw something, for just a brief moment, that completely shocked me.  If you notice in the pictures, there is a man, Chris the choir leader is playing a guitar and singing in the background.  You can also find 2 boys daing similar hand motions with children following in suit.  Each day the youth would gather and sing cheerful songs focused on making Christ known, while adding silly dances for the children to remember.  This is not what stood out to me.   One of my boys, Marshan, who has attended Bible club since I began 5 years ago was actually SINGING and LAUGHING. Y’all my heart stopped.  This kid does NOT like “kiddy songs, games, crafts, etc.” because he’s too old and won’t act like “a baby.” You must understand that Marshan is an older Bible club kid and has been my “difficult child” the past few years.  We understand his disruptive outbursts, defiance, and authoritative issues stem from something more than “not feeling it today.”  This sweet boy, one that brings me so much joy and gladness, was finally getting to just act his age. Sing silly songs.  Dance around jumping. Smile and play.  My heart sings with so much gladness just thinking about that moment.

You’re the well that won’t run dry. / Only You can satisfy. / Through every season of my life, You are the Well that won’t run dry. // You have given me freedom. You have given me joy. / You have taken my burdens. // – The Well, BridgeCity

I have never seen so much joy for the Lord in a group of leaders before this week.  I’m talking pure, true, real joy for serving Jesus and His people.  Not a day went by where there weren’t genuine smiles and singing, so excited to take back the streets of Brunswick.  I think a lot can be learned by the leadership of Chris, his wife, and the rest of the team.  We are given the most beautiful and life-changing opportunities to serve and love on God’s children.  He obviously doesn’t need our help, but what a blessing it is to be apart of His plan! Go. Restore the streets. Love the people. Make Him known.

– Sarah

Week One : Morningside Baptist Church

I don't want a cookie-cutter mission trip.

Week one of summer produced more challenges than I expected, but also more reformation than I could have dreamed for a group of individuals.  Morningside Baptist Church brought 22 missionaries (leaders and youth included) to serve the comIMG_0136munity of Brunswick, a place they have been coming to for years.  Their week started unlike anything they could have imagined, thunderstorms all week, low Bible Club numbers, cancelled activities, hot bunkhouses, and timid Boys & Girls Club directors.  Now, the sentence you just read sounds like a disaster or worst possible mission trip a group could experience…And yes, even I wondered if they would have a memorable trip.  But at the very moment I want you to throw away any ideas you have about the way this trip went for Morningside Baptist and the GIM Missionaries.

Let me explain.  Day one we walked out of the Southeast Baptist Association (SEBA) with dreary skies, tired faces, and doubts that Bible Club would have children due to unforeseen weather.  When we arrived to Shady Acres Mobile Home Park, our spirits were lifted because we saw children already playing in the park and walking down streets. So with the rains already beginning to come down, we began throwing up tents and huddling under our shelters.  Students started walking the streets, knocking on doors, and yelling “Bible Club” to hopefully wake up the families. Time began to go by… 20 minutes…30 minutes…40 minutes and no children.  Anguish is the best way to describe the many faces standing before me.  The missionaries and I prayed “Lord, please don’t let our efforts be a waste. Provide the numbers, not for our satisfaction, but so that we can proclaim Your name and make You known.”  Finally, children started showing up, rain boots and all, to see why a bunch of crazy folks were just standing in the rain.

I promised to be honest when writing this blog; I was so discouraged yet also driven to trust in Jesus and what He had planned.  Day one ended with 10 children arriving to Bible Club, listening to the stories of Noah’s Ark (what a great choice for our rainy day!), making crafts in the rain, and playing in the biggest mud puddles I’ve ever laid eyes on. The morning of day two was not what I expected: it was so obvious the group was ready to pack up and go home.  Grumbling and complaining ( I say with so much love you guys! And I complained too!), saddened faces, and bodies reluctant to get back into the rain dwelled at GIM.  I’d awoken in the night with the Lord pressing on my heart “Do not let My people walk away from here in grief.  Show them MY PLAN, not theirs.”  You guys, I fell out of my bed weeping and in awe of what I’d just heard! I get chill bumps still thinking about it.

MORNING TWO: God showed up and showed out! I told Stephanie and Will what God shared with me, we prayed and asked for guidance, and without hesitation we all agreed things would be different today.  I gathered the group into the sanctuary and explained that a new plan had been made.  With all of my trust in Jesus, I spoke to Morningside about what was on my heart.  Missions is not cookie-cutter or easy.  It can be messy, undesirable, hard, and flat out draining.  When we have been called to share the Gospel (YES, we are all called. Point blank.) we have to give up our expectations, wants, and preferences.  This is not about us.   // Stephanie led worship and invited the group to release everything to Him, to get on your face and repent.  Ask for the Holy Spirit to well up inside and empower you. OMG at what happened next. Revival hit this place.  I saw grown men and women, youth, and children falling down at the alter, praising His great name and asking for renewed hearts.

I’M ALMOST FINISHED:  To sum it up, week one was changed after that Tuesday morning. Did the rains stop? Nope, it got worse.  Did children show up? You know it. Did I witness the Lord grab ahold of every single person’s heart and change them from the inside out? In more ways than my words can explain.  Morningside Baptist showed me the most beautiful example of what really putting your trust in Jesus looks like.  They showed me that being a Christian can be hard. Loving others might not happen easily, but man when you open up your heart, everything changes.  They witnessed to so many children and members of community, with 6 children accepting Christ as their Savior! Jesus you silence our fears.  Your name is a light that the shadows cannot deny. Your name cannot be overcome.

Morningside Baptist Church: I am so proud of you all.  I am BEYOND grateful that you were my first ever group at Golden Isles Ministries.  I love each and every one of you and it has been the biggest blessing keeping up with you and watching you all change the world.  Shine bright guys.  Love like Jesus.  Give everything you have and lay it down at the altar, and watch God wreck and change your lives.  You are a group that loves, and loves well.

– Sarah