Experiencing His Mighty Power

Yesterday at our church youth group, I was trying to explain to this group of about 30 kids what I was doing in England for a year and how I made the decision to come here. I wasn’t surprised by the question. I have answered it countless times in the past few weeks. What I was surprised by was the fact that I had a lot more trouble answering the question this time. These are the kids that I am going to be spending the most time with in the coming year. This is where I have a chance to really make a difference in the lives of people. I looked around at this group, all of them awesome kids, but most of them not truly understanding what living for Jesus really means. I have been so blessed to have godly influences that poured into me as a young person. They taught me how to live for the One who died for me, and now I have to go share this blessing with others. 

So I tried to explain what I was doing in England. I tried to hold back the tears as I told them that God had broken my heart for this place just a few months ago. I told them that God had changed my plans, and led me away from my home, my friends, my college, and everything I was comfortable with. I told them that I wanted to be there for them, that if they ever needed anything at all, I was there to help. I really can’t wait to see what God does through this ministry within the next year. I’m also getting the chance to lead a girl’s bible study during the week. That’s really where my heart is, so I can’t wait to build these relationships and hear their stories.

Check out my inspiration for the week, Philippians 3:8-11.

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

That is without a doubt one of the most powerful scriptural encouragements I have ever had. While I’m here, it is important for me to keep everything in perspective. This year has already been an awesome opportunity to live focused on Christ, but just like anywhere else, there are distractions and temptations that the Devil will try to put in my way. Everything else is worthless, and I want to count it all as garbage for the sake of Christ. What an awesome concept to live completely immersed in His love. I want to experience His mighty power, and I am confident and expectant that it is completely tangible and possible, if I live all-in for Him.

 

Another awesome place to pray with the team. We went for a nice walk at Lordstones. I am continually amazed at this awesome group of people that God has called together.

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Please continue to send prayers our way as we work to impact this place for the Kingdom. I am so excited about what is to come and the opportunities that we are going to have!

Much Love,

Angela

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Rejoicing in Everything

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” -Romans 5:3-5

I have always wondered how some people get through hard times. When I go through trials, I try my best to remember that the pain is only temporary, and that it is a part of God’s plan for me. I have hope in that. If someone doesn’t know God, what do they have to put their hope in? For most people, this verse is a reminder to persevere through the hard times. But God doesn’t say to persevere, he says to rejoice. That is not as easy of a task. How do I rejoice when everything seems to be going wrong? The verse goes on to say that these troubles strengthen the hope of salvation that we have. So I think that these trials are just another way that God wants to pour His Holy Spirit into us. The more hope and faith I have, the more I want to go and share it with other people.

So no one said this year was going to be easy for me, or for any of us. It is supposed to teach us and stretch us in ways nothing else could. Some things are going to be really difficult, but God is stretching me. The farther I am stretched, the more people I can touch. Adjusting to a new culture is fun and exciting. I have a new family, and a new home. Some parts are not so easy though, and the busier I get, the more I will have to learn to keep my focus, abide in Christ, and keep on keepin’ on. But I’m SO excited to finally start meeting kids, building relationships, and sharing the Gospel.

All that talk about trials and tribulations makes it sound like I’m miserable or something. That’s definitely not true. I have loved every minute of my time here in this first week and a half. My host family is seriously amazing. We are very close already and are always poking fun at each other. I have loved getting to know the rest of the gap year team as well. Having a group of friends to share this new experience with just makes it that much better.

British sunsets are awesome. I’ve always been obsessed with the sky, so this makes me really happy. I just love the fact that God paints a different picture for us every night.

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Everyone here has been so nice and welcoming. I’m missing my Southcrest family for sure, but the congregation at my new church has been awesome. I’m so excited to get more plugged in and start leading the youth. I have been so blessed to have dedicated leaders pouring into me the past 5 years, I can’t wait to pass the blessing forward and share my experiences with these young people. I want to show them that there is nothing better than living with a true passion for God.

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It has been so awesome to reconnect with people that I met while I was here in July. We got to go back to the cafe church that we helped launch just a few months ago. I love seeing God at work!

Please keep me and my team in your prayers as we start working and sharing God light!

Until next time,

Cheers!

New experiences, new team, same God.

I can’t believe I have already been here for a week. It has gone by so fast, but looking back we have been busy every day. We have finished our first week of training, but as Mike said, our real training has just begun. I am so excited that we finally have the whole team here. I love hearing the stories of how everyone followed God’s will for them to come to England. We all come from such different places, but I know this is an awesome group of people and I can’t wait to see what God does through all of us. 

We all got to know each other very well, very quickly. This entire week of training was spent together. Nothing says team bonding like Roseberry Topping and whitewater rafting.

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Roseberry Topping is this awesome hill, which seems like a mountain to me because I’m so out of shape. When you get to the top, you can see the entire Tees Valley. What an awesome opportunity we had to pray over this area and these people as we begin this adventure of bringing God’s light to this place. We also got to take a road trip to the churches and schools that each of us will be working at and pray over those places as well. This experience seriously brought us all so much closer together already. Personally I think I sometimes underestimate the value of prayer. After that day, I have never been more expectant of the things that God will do because of persistent prayer.

“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayers for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” -Psalm 116:1-2

I love that. And I would love to see the radical change that could come about if we all join together and continue to pray for this place.

Whitewater rafting was a new experience for me as well. It was tons of fun. Of course I fell out within the first five minutes, but my teammates were there to pull me back up. We paddled as best we could, but I think our guide in the back of the raft did most of the work. When I fell out and didn’t know where I was going, it was a great feeling when one of my teammates extended their hand to pull me back to safety. Almost everyone in our raft fell out atleast once. The next day during training, Emily shared this awesome vision that God had given her. Our team of gap-yearers in a raft, floating through the Tees Valley, with God as our guide. We are doing the best we can, but he is ultimately steering us in the right direction. And as we are going along, we are pulling lost people out of the darkness, and into the safety of our Savior. We were all so moved and excited by this story, it was definitely a source of inspiration, and I am so thankful for these experiences together.

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I am settling in well. Most of my clothes are unpacked, I officially have a British phone number, and the entire team has finally arrived. I have been blessed with an awesome host home for the year. I love that God open up the hearts of this family to have a teenager live with them for a year, and I love that I get to be that teenager. I haven’t had much time to be homesick, but when I am, I remind myself that I am right where God wants me to be. This experience was never meant to be easy, but I already know it will be worth it.

I would like to leave you with something that God has been pouring into me this week. I had the privilege to share this with the team during a mini-sermon that we did during training.

 

“I will show you what it is like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and them follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.” -Luke 6:47-48

It often takes radical faith to truly surrender to God’s will for our lives. But when we do obey, we build our foundation on that faith, and I know that nothing can ever destroy this perfect plan God has.

“The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” -Psalm 118:22-23

I have to tell you that this verse has been permanently engrained in my mind. It such an awesome reminder, along I am nothing, but God can take me, sinful and shattered, and rebuild me to further His kingdom. This IS the Lord’s doing, and I can’t wait to see where this adventure leads. 

God Bless,

Angela

 

“Crossing the Pond” – The Journey

When I made the decision to do a gap year in England, I never thought twice about what I was leaving behind. Partly because I didn’t have time to think, and partly because I could focus only what a blessing this opportunity was. C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” This was probably the biggest decision I’ve ever made, and by far the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken.

For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from high school this May, and was totally prepared to start college at the University of Georgia. I came to Teeside during July on a trip with a group from my church. It was my first time out of the country, and I was so excited about the things God had in store for me and my team. Little did I know, God was changing all my plans, giving me a burden for the people in this quaint little area of northeast England, and making me radically rethink everything I thought I knew. Before I even returned from that trip, I knew that God wasn’t done with me here. I remember praying with tears streaming down my face, Lord just tell me what to do, because I can’t do this alone. Even then I didn’t think it was possible for me to do something like this.

After returning from the trip, I spent a long week or two praying about God’s plans for me, talking to my parents, and weighing my options. In the end, I knew all I could do was surrender to God’s sovereign plan, no matter how crazy it seemed. I knew I was going back to Teeside. Then I had the dilemma of already being enrolled in college. I had to apply for deferment at UGA, which meant that if they found my reason valid, then they would hold my admission, scholarships, etc. When I got the email that my request had been accepted, I got some major reassurance that everything would fall into place. The next task was to tell my roommate that, well, she wasn’t my roommate anymore. This is what I was dreading most. We had been planning to live together for months, and I felt terrible leaving her only a few weeks before move-in day. Before I walked in Starbucks to meet her that day, I prayed that God would give me the words to say, and give her understanding. She was surprised I’m sure, but she was very understanding and happy that I had an opportunity like this.

Then began the process of visa applications, background checks, telling everyone that I was leaving the country, and packing. Do you have any clue how hard it was to compress my life into three bags? I feel like I need so much to survive for a whole year. Somehow I managed, and barely kept the bags under the airport weight limit. 

Then came goodbyes. In all the rush of planning and excitement, it never occurred to me how many people I would have to say goodbye to. Of course I’ll be back at Christmas and then next July, but when you see a person every day or even every week, you sometimes take their presence for granted until you can’t see them anymore. There were many tears, and I had a very emotional few days. But as hard as it was, I knew I was doing the right thing. You have to put all your faith in God, if you are following His path for you, nothing will really go wrong. Not to say that it will be easy, because it definitely wasn’t, but it was better knowing that I am doing God’s will.

So then I crossed the pond, ready to start the next chapter of my life. Leaving behind everything I have ever known, and the town I have lived in all my life, for this mysterious place where I know only a handful of people. Here’s what I do know: I love Newnan, and I love Southcrest Church, but that was my comfort zone. If I am to follow God to the ends of the earth (literally), with radical faith, I can’t stay in my comfort zone any longer. Most people don’t realize how spiritually dark England has become. This is where the first Christian missionaries were sent from, but faith has fizzled and tradition has become ritual, and the light of God’s kingdom was growing dim here.

There is some good news. Myself and nine other young people have come together to bring God’s light back to Teeside. I am completely confident that God can start a revival in this place, and I am so blessed to have an opportunity to be a part of this.

I appreciate your prayers and support. I will continue to update you on all the amazing things that God is doing through us throughout this year as we do His work. I am so excited about the team that has been brought together, about the new relationships I will be building, and about all the opportunities I will have to be a light for Jesus here in the Tees Valley.

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Please keep this place in your prayers as we start our ministry here, this is a view of the Tees Valley from Roseberry Topping!

Until Next Time,

Cheers Mate!