REACH NASHVILLE PROJECT #7: The Student Perspective

The team is back in Texas and some are repacking to take family vacations, thanking their mothers for doing endless loads of their laundry, and most are sleeping. It was a fantastic week, the Lord did so many incredible things.

Our last day included a concert at The Arkansas Correction Center in Little Rock and a six hour trip home. It was a great morning at the Correction Center and a sweet way to wrap up the trip.

When we arrived back at The Heights, everyone was glad to say goodbye to the 15 passenger vans and hello to their own beds.

Over the course of the week we asked several students to write their stories down and tell us what they saw the Lord doing. 

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Austin Tye, an upcoming sophomore at Allen High School, wrote about how the Lord prepared his heart for the Reach Trip and how he saw God move at the beginning of the week…

” When I received the opportunity to share the gospel in Nashville, I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to go. I eventually decided to take part because a lot of my friends were going. In the months leading up to the trip, God really got a hold of my heart and convicted me about why I was going on the trip. I knew I was supposed to go on this trip to serve God, not for myself or to hang out with friends. I was listening to the radio one day and a song called “If not us, then who?” came on. God used music to help me realize that I am on earth for one purpose, to make God’s name known and to bring him glory. I am asking God to do big things through this trip, and big things in me. I am ready and asking God to reveal to me what I should do, and praying I do not ignore his commands. We have spent a short time with the people at the Nashville Rescue Mission so far, and I can already see the Lord moving. God has reminded me that I am not any better than any of the people that I am spending time with this week. I am just as broken and in need of Jesus as they are. It is only the beginning of the trip, and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store. “

Austin wrote this at the beginning of the trip, and it was such a neat thing to watch God answer prayers to Austin, and to others on the team.

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Jack Spitaletto, an upcoming sophomore at Wylie Preparatory Academy, wrote this during the middle of the trip.

“One of the men at the Nashville Rescue Mission that we were serving with shared his testimony with us today. The guy was very humble when he talked. He started by saying that he lived a fortunate life and grew up in a church home. He went on to tell us that as he got older he became an alcoholic and struggled through that for years. He did not make any excuses for his sin, but always pointed back to God. He mentioned humility a lot and the way he delivered his story was very humble. That really connected with me because pride is something I have always wrestled with in my walk with Christ.

He mentioned that it was only his second time to share his testimony and that he had been praying for an opportunity to get to tell his story to someone. God is answering prayers all around us and I can’t wait to see what else this week has in store.”

God used the people we were serving this week to remind us that our stories matter and that God is always in control. It was an incredible thing to see how God brings his people together and how he writes all of our stories.

Natalie Russell, an upcoming sophomore at Williams High School in Plano, wrote this on the way home yesterday.

This week in Nashville the Lord has revealed a lot to me. This was my first mission trup, so I was not really sure what to expect throughout the week. I learned more than I ever imagined I would.

I was super nervous to go to the mission because I has always thought of homeless people as scary and dangerous. The first day at the mission I was scared of what to expect and completely out of my comfort zone. I was really praying to God that I would have the courage to talk to the people there and not be as nervous. As I met the people at the mission I realized there was so much more to them. They were beautiful and full of God’s joy and it amazed me.

The first day I sat with a man at lunch named John, who told me about how he was teaching himself to play guitar. In that moment of regular conversation, I realized that all these people weren’t below me and that they weren’t poor. They were so rich in God’s love.

As the week went on God humbled me and showed me that these people weren’t just people, they were my people.

We are all equal in the Kingdom of God and I am no better or worse because of where I come from. We are all broken and in dire need for Jesus. This week showed me how important it is to love others no matter what your curcumstances are. These people who had nothing some of the most loving and genuine people I have ever met.

When we performed for their chapel on Wednesday Night I watched a crippled man who could barely walk, stumble to the front of the church and drop to his knees in praise. God has really used this week to humble me and show me how the love of Jesus changes everything. The people at the mission really demonstrated how we need to stop looking for joy in worldly things and instead look for it in God.”

Sara Spitaletto, an upcoming freshman at Wylie Preparatory Academy, wrapped up her trip like this…

This week in Nashville has been truly amazing. I came into this week with low expectations. I expected that I already knew everything I needed. God made me do a 180 and tranformed my mind with a new perspective.

At the beginning of the week, I was afraid to sit with the homeless people at lunch and start conversations, because I had always thought of them as full of harm and brokenness. As the week went on I found myself listening to them give me advice about life and the Lord.

Songs that we struggled through before, became better because our team stopped singing like it was a choir performance, and we started to worship.

From homeless people, to elders, to prisoners, the Lord showed me something different through each one. He showed me that there is a joyful spirit that can only come from the Lord himself.

This week my heart was changed because the Lord showed me that everything I do, from singing to folding towels, is worship. “

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Reading these stories over again has reminded me how big our God is.

“Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than all that we ask or think.. to Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”  – Ephesians 3:20-21

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REACH PROJECT #6: Last Day, Best Day. 

  
We completed our last day at Nashville Rescue Mission today. We spent time sorting through donations in the warehouse for most of the morning while a team of guys spent their time at the woman’s shelter serving with Miss Loretta, the woman in charge of the woman’s facilities. It was a sweet way to wrap up the week we spent with people we have grown to love. We were able to eat lunch with the men at the mission again today and it is so incredible to see the boldness our team has in starting conversations and building relationships. The Lord has been faithful and done incredible things in and through our team this week. 

   
    
 We are on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas to spend the night and have our last concert at the Juvinile Detention Center in the morning. After our last concert we will make our way back to Dallas. 

We have begun to process all that the Lord has done during the trip and find it hard to express it all with words. He has been good to us, indeed. 

On tomorrow’s blog you will hear 4 different students stories of what God has shown them this week and what this means for their lives now. 
The Lord has really reminded us that the kind of things that we did this week is not just a weeklong check on our to-do list that we do as believers, but it flows from who we are. Because of the life, hope, joy, and freedom we have in Christ we are inclined to love people scandalously. Not just people who look like us, dress like us, are in the same social class, of the same sexual orientation or political party- we are free to love all people from all nations and places scandalously. 
We are excited to bring all that we have learned back into our city and circles of influence. 

Check back tomorrow to hear more about what God did this week. He is good and faithful to complete the work he began in us. Hallelujah. 

REACH: NASHVILLE PROJECT #5: Encores and Ice Cream Socials 

Our day began with a beautiful Tennessee rain shower as we loaded the vans for another morning at Nashville Rescue Mission! Students stacked cases of water, emptied expired diet coke into the sink, and sorted various donations. (They probably moved 3 tons of water.)     

At lunch almost every student and leader were sitting with someone in the Life Program here at Nashville Rescue Mission. Not only were testimonies shared, but just conversations about regular everyday life! Getting to talk and relate to the people here has changed our view of homeless people- they’re not some strange, foreign person that cannot be approached, but they’re just people with interests, feelings, and a story just like us. The Lord is truly working powerfully at Nashville Rescue Mission! 

Right as our time ended at the Mission, we loaded up to head to our concert at a nearby Assisted Living Center called Morningside Of Belmont! The room was PACKED with sweet faces excited to hear from the “young people.” (Trent threw in a few spontaneous hymns to sing with the room to keep it interesting for our audience.) After performing we mingled with the people there during their ice cream social. With boldness and grace our students loved on, listened to, and were changed by the people in this facility. 

Here’s a story Emily Williams on her time at Morningside Of Belmont: 

“Before going in to this, I thought this would just be a sing, talk for a few minutes, then leave kind of deal, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the mission trip so far. 

When we walked in to the nursing home in Belmont we were welcomed by a crowd of super sweet old people. At the ice cream social I became kind of nervous about how I would approach them, talk to them and relate to them. But God finally gave me the courage to start a conversation with one of them and I’m so glad He did. Her name was Doris and I am so blessed I got the chance to sit down and grow a relationship with her. 

She told me cool facts about herself and I shared some about me. We actually had a lot in common! We started really digging in deeper and something that struck me was when she said she had no siblings, no kids, no husband, no grandkids-absolutely no one to visit her at all yet she was still so positive and really chased after God. Even though she was alone, she knew for a fact she had something way better than anything she could ever have on earth. 

It showed me that no matter what you are going through on earth, you have to find the positive and trust that His way is the best and only way and that being content with your life is SO important.”   

    
 Not only are our conversations with the people we meet changing our lives, but the songs we are singing are changing others lives. Tonight we sang at Nashville Rescue Mission for the homeless men who are going to stay at the shelter tonight. We saw men raising their hands, lifting shouts of praise, and one man even came to the altar to kneel before the Lord during one of the songs. (They even cheered for an encore!)   

Our students were worshipping with their whole hearts, and the Lord definitely used it to usher everyone listening closer to His presence. Join us in praying for Doris and the others we met at Morningside Belmont, and for the men sleeping at the Mission tonight who heard the gospel proclaimed through our students. 

We’re in awe of how you’re working Lord! 

Check in a little later on the Heights Student Ministry Facebook page to see more pictures from our time here in Nashville! 

REACH: NASHVILLE PROJECT #4: Green Beans and The Grand Ole Opry

It was an incredible day at Nashville Rescue Mission! Students were much less timid today to start conversations with those staying at the shelter and those working there. 
We were able to eat lunch with residents at the shelter and hear many of their stories. Topics of conversation ranged from life lessons about choosing friends and relationships to the proper way to pick watermelon. Some of our students left NRM today with a changed worldview- seeing God in a completely new way. 

 

Most of our students served in the warehouse sorting a multitude of items for the Warehouse Manager, Martin. 

  

Martin used to be a member of the Life Program at Nashville Rescue a Mission and shared his story with us today. It was crazy to see how the Lord has revealed himself to Martin and God used Nashville Rescue Mission to help change his life. We are excited to spend the rest of the week serving with Martin and hearing more of his story and heart. 

Will you join with us in praying for Martin? We want to encourage him and spur him on in the gospel this week and serve him well. The stronghold of sin is big but our God is bigger- pray that God would continue to remind Martin of that. 
The rest of our team served again in the garden at the Women’s Shelter. The boys toughed it outside in the Tennessee Heat picking green beans, mowing the grass, and doing other various tasks. 

  
The leaders at the shelter were so encouraging to our team and shared so many stories with us about God’s faithfulness. Mark Perry, a soon to be Junior at Plano East High School got to have a neat conversation with a women at the shelter. Here’s his story: 

“Today was an awesome day. About 12 of us guys went to the woman’s rescue mission today. We mowed, edged, weeded, and prepared vegetables. We ate there and everyone that worked there was so sweet and so inviting.

After we ate I got the privilege to speak with one of the homeless women. Her name was Mema, given to her by her grandson, she was 66 and had been homeless for 26 years. She told me about her struggles about being homeless, her sons and husbands death, and how she struggled with anger and bitterness because of that. Two things I got to do were tell her the good news of the gospel, and share with her her favorite song that she hadn’t heard since her husband died. God enabled me to remind her of the eternal hope and victory we have in Jesus. 

 Through this conversation I learned that the gospel isn’t always just telling someone they need Jesus, but its loving them in such a way that they cant help but see the love of christ. I was fortunate to be able to love this woman who hadn’t been loved like this for 26 years.”

Jesus is truly using our students for His glory. There have been some genuinely rich conversations our students are getting to have with people from all walks of life. 

We are praying for the Lord to continue to use this team to establish his Kingdom here in Nashville and to continue to reveal himself go us in a real way. He is good and faithful to complete the work he began in us- join us in asking him to remind us of that. 

   
 
We are currently at intermission at the Tuesday Night show at the Grand Ole Opry. The students did a quick concert in the plaza before the show and drew quite the crowd.  

 
We head back to Nashville Rescue Mission in the morning to serve and sing for their chapel service. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store. 

Remember to search #reachnashville15 on Instagram and Twitter for more pictures from the Trip! 

REACH NASHVILLE PROJECT #3: Hair Nets and Hard Questions 

  
Our team spent the early part of today serving at Nashville Rescue Mission(NRM) in Downtown Nashville. The Mission will serve over 2,100 meals today and house over 700 men tonight at the Men’s Center alone. A health clinic and a center for women and children are two of the various other programs that run out of NRM. It is truly an incredible place with a heart for the people of Nashville to encounter the gospel and see the Kingdom of God in real life. One of the staff from NRM, Chris, told us this morning that the primary way they show the city who Jesus is, is by meeting physical needs while also addressing their spiritual needs. “To do one without the other is missing the point” he said this afternoon. 

Upon our arrival our team was split into groups to serve throughout the 300,000 foot facility. Some students folded and sorted donations of clothing and towels and I don’t want to name any names, but it seems a certain staff member googled a video on how to fold fitted sheets(It was Thomas.) Other students sorted spices, mopped water leaks, and helped with garden upkeep at the women’s facility. 

A large part of our team was also in the Kitchen. After donning hair nets, aprons, and gloves, the team got after it sorting berries, cracking eggs, and serving the men at the mission lunch.

 
      

Kallie Galvan, upcoming sophomore at Shelton High School, was a part of the team serving lunches(she has asked that I let you all know that she was in charge of the strawberries). She had this to say about her morning… 
“Nashville is so beautiful but the brokenness I have seen here is nothing like I imagined it was going to be. The Lord has already worked in my heart and so many others. When we went to the Nashville Rescue Mission I served the men lunch. There were way more men there than I thought that were going to come and receive lunch. It broke my heart to see all those men walking through but gave me so much joy to think that I would get to see some of them in heaven again one day. I had the honor of talking to one of the men that went through the Life Program and now works for Nashville Rescue Mission. He had so much joy considering how much loss he went through not long ago. I have recently been struggling with thinking I am unworthy of God, but through my talk with him I received the reassurance that I am truly a daughter of the King and that he loves me no matter the amount of my sins. I am so excited to see what the Lord does the rest of the week, he has already done so much. ”

– Kallie Galvan, upcoming Sophomore and Strawberry Extraordinaire. 
Our afternoon was spent at Wave Country Water Park and our time there was full of wave pool shenanigans and hard conversations. Over and over as I asked our students about their time at NRM they began to speak about what the Lord had shown them that day. For some God reminded them that He is indeed the provider, and for others it showed them what love looks like when it is lived out. 

At the end of every conversation we asked- “Where do we go from here?” Now that we know what we do about God, about who God makes us, and about what the Kingdom of God truly looks like, how do we live as if all of that is true? It is the question we are asking today and that we will continue to ask throughout the week and when we come home. 

If God is real, then what? 
God is doing incredible things here and our week has just begun. 
As I type the students are warming up for their concert in the square in Hendersonville, Tn. We will spend tonight debriefing and preparing for our time at Nashville Rescue Mission tomorrow. 

We are asking the Lord for favor with the people in the shelters that we will be able to have lunch with for the rest of the week and for the Lord to continue to stir hearts for the sake of the Kingdom in our team and the city of Nashville. 

I know many selfies were taken today and posted on various forms of social media( Instagram and Twitter) with the #reachnashville15. Check those out by searching the hashtag. There were hair nets. So many hairnets. 
  

REACH: NASHVILLE PROJECT #2: We’re Here!

As of 7:00 tonight, the Reach Team has officially made it to Nashville. We are all moved into our rooms at Belmont University and are getting some much needed rest before our first full day of ministry tomorrow! This morning the students led worship at Nettleton Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas. IMG_2517 Our students did an outstanding job and Abby Williams, upcoming senior at Wylie Preparatory Academy, described the morning like this…

This morning we got the opportunity to sing with the congregation at Nettleton Baptist Church. I love getting to lead the lost in worship and sharing the gospel with them, but I also love worshiping with those who already know Christ and reminding them of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We found out this morning that a student from Nettleton Baptist was killed in a tragic accident earlier in the week. I was able to lead out on a song called Someone Worth Dying For and the reaction of the people seated in front of me was simply amazing. People lifted their hands in worship and closed their eyes to focus on God more clearly. A woman cried as a man from a couple rows back stepped up to pray over her. Everyone was completely aware of God’s presence, even in such a hard time. I am so thankful that God let me be a part of something like that. – Abby Williams, Wylie Preparatory Academy

IMG_2544        IMG_2537 Join us in prayer for the people we will meet this week at Nashville Rescue Mission and during our concerts. Pray for boldness in our team and for the gospel to be proclaimed clearly. Keep checking #reachnashville15 on Twitter and Instagram to see more pictures from the trip!

REACH: NASHVILLE PROJECT #1: French Fries, Friends, and Fifteen Passenger Vans

4 fifteen passenger vans, 2 SUV’s and 1 Uhaul trailer departed The Heights early this morning to begin the trek to Nashville, Tennessee. A team of 60 will spend a week serving alongside Nashville Rescue Mission and holding choir concerts throughout the city! We have been preparing for this trip for quite some time and are so excited that it is finally here!

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Parents students and leaders praying before the team headed out this morning.

I am happy to report that…

We have arrived at our first stop!

Tonight we have stopped over in Jonesboro, Arkansas and will be a part of the worship service at Nettleton Baptist Church in the morning. The students will be leading worship during the 8:30 and 10:30 services!

After a quick dinner in Jonesboro, the team headed to the church to practice for the services in the morning.

Here is a quick look at part of the practice. They sounded great!

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Tomorrow we will eat lunch at Nettleton Baptist Church and spend time with their Student Ministry leadership and students before heading out to complete the last leg of our journey to Nashville!

Join us in praying for the team this week and the people that we will get to meet!

Stay up to date with all that is happening on the REACH Trip by searching #reachnashville15 on Instagram and Twitter and checking our Facebook and Blog daily for Updates!

England Post #7: Joyfully uncomfortable.

Today was the last day in schools for the King’s team. Since school ended yesterday in York, the York team got to explore Whitby and York together. It was a great last day in NE England and we are all genuinely sad to think about saying goodbye to our lovely host homes tomorrow morning and to leave this place where we see God moving so actively. At the same time, we’re overwhelmingly grateful for all He’s done and are trusting in His faithfulness to complete the good works that He’s started here. 

Here are two more stories this evening of how God has moved in and through our students this week in York and Middlesbrough–

  
God is full of awesome, rich surprises. He is full of things we can’t even comprehend, and that is why I’m sitting here in my bed in the small town of Thowlthorpe (outside of York about 10 miles) and just smiling and marveling how awesome He is. 

Two days ago I talked with some year 10’s (9th graders) who had posed the question to me, “if God loves us so much then why is He just going to take all the Christians and leave the rest of us here to die in the end times?” This is from a 14 year old boy. The only things I could think about when I was 14 was sports and girls. We spent the next hour discussing the end times and how I believed that one day Christ would come back, eradicating all sin, and the people that still did not believe in Him would pay the price for that. 

What has surprised me the most about this trip hasn’t been questions like that, or the majority that claim to be agnostic, or even what side of the road they drive on. What has shocked me the most, in the best way possible, is the feeling of overwhelming joy of being in these “uncomfortable situations.” Contrary to what I had led myself to believe, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is not uncomfortable. Being challenged in your faith is not uncomfortable. It is a beautiful thing, something to be met head on and with vigor and the Holy Spirit by your side. Today I am thankful for Christ for showing me these things and for showing me just how unexpected He really is. 

Cheers,

Dillon Tye, upcoming senior at Allen High School

  
The beginning of the week at Kings was not an easy start for me. The kids were so unresponsive and I seemed to get stonewalled in every class I went it to. I finished Monday and Tuesday feeling very defeated, very useless, and as if I weren’t much of a help to what the team was doing at the school. 

Yet still, the Lord is faithful. Yesterday and today at Kings have been absolutely exhausting yet so, so awesome.  
Yesterday in a year 12 (11th grade) class, I met a boy who asked ridiculously thought provoking and challenging questions. He’s called Mitchell and he told us that he was a Christian, but often goes through intense seasons of doubt and times where there are things he just does not understand. He was so interested in what Clint and I believed that he came to Camp of Champions after school and talked with us for the entire hour and a half, asking us about anything from homosexuality to why Jesus turned water into wine when he had the power to turn war into peace. We got to eat lunch with Mitchell today and continue our hard conversation. 
Today in a year 10 (9th grade) class, Cory, Clint and I ending up talking with them for an hour and 40 minutes. They could not stop thinking of questions. Things like: “If God has a plan for everyone, what is his plan for the hundreds of babies that die everyday?”, “If he already knows what we’re going to do, is there any free will in that at all?”, “If I believe in the Ten Commandments, does that make me a Christian?” and so many more. The excitement and (if I’m being honest) anxiety that came from the rapid fire of those questions was absolutely amazing. I saw the Lord’s faithfulness in the way that His spirit was so present in that classroom. 
The past 5 days the Lord has just placed a longing on my heart for the students at Kings who are Christians to have resources and the ability to move deeper into a relationship with Christ. I look at students like Mitchell and want so badly for them to grow in their understanding of their purpose because of who they are in Christ. The Lord placed on my heart that that really was one of our purposes here. Yes, we want people to find and fall in love with Jesus, but just as importantly we came to encourage and challenge the very few Christ followers that walk the halls at the Kings Academy. 
Being here this week just continues to build my confidence in how good our God is. In a society where people are taught that God simply is not important, we are seeing faithful servants of Jesus rise up and be different. 

Continue to pray for the Kingdom to come at Kings Academy. For students’ hearts to continued to be softened for the one day that they may understand the true goodness and beauty of the Gospel. 

-Marisa Mulloy, upcoming freshman at Baylor University 

Whew. Praise Jesus for these stories and for the beauty of the gospel at work here. These stories of what God is doing in and through our Heights Students challenge me to move deeper into the gospel myself so I can know and love Jesus more. And that’s why Jesus is the coolest!

I hope and pray that the Lord uses these stories and does the same thing in your heart too. He’s a good, good Father and He loves you dearly. Asking the Lord to help you rest in that truth confidently tonight so that you can take personal risks and experience the joy of being uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel. 

England Post #6: Changing perspectives.

Hi fam!

Every day is a gift from the Lord, and today was no exception!! Our teams headed to school for the fourth day. It was the York team’s last day, due to Manor School releasing for school holiday this afternoon. The Middlesbrough team still has one more day at The King’s to proclaim the gospel and we’re pumped about it!

Here are three more stories of how The Lord is changing our student’s and the English student’s perspectives to see and know Him even more–

  

This week has been a very good week, and I have been blessed to be able to really bond with some of the younger guys at The King’s! I feel like a celebrity at the school, but I’ve been able to use that in very good ways. Since the guy students and I have been able to build friendships, I’ve noticed they start to open up to me and really pay attention to the lesson and the real truth of the story.

Today Kamie, Emma, Tanner, and I were in a year 10 (9th grade) class and they asked some of the best questions about God, Jesus, and what it’s like to be a Christain. One of the girls named Olivia came up to us afterwards and we found out that she is still on her journey, struggling to decide whether she believes in God or not. We got to pray with her afterwards, asking for God to reveal himself to her and to open her eyes!

So I challenge y’all, The Height’s Baptist Church, to join us in praying for Olivia and her walk with God. And also for God to work in our last day at The King’s Academy–that we would go really hard for Him and proclaim the gospel out to every kid we talk to. Thank y’all for all the prayers! We can’t wait to tell all of our stories when we get back.

-Travis West, upcoming senior at Lake Highlands High School

  

  

Yesterday came only from God. Only He could have strung the events together the way He did, and He is so good for doing that.

My day hadn’t been the best. At first, I felt discouraged because the groups of kids I had been talking to never had a response, They hadn’t figured out their beliefs and, therefore, had zero opinions about anything. No one was shouting at me ” I hate your God,” or ” I don’t believe in that,” which I guess isn’t a horrible thing, but I still felt like I wasn’t making much of an impact. Obviously, God saw the unbelief in me and changed my perspective like He so often does.

Dillon and I were invited by a student to go to an LGBT club where kids that struggle with same sex attraction have a safe place to talk and raise homophobic awareness. We, feeling intrigued, went and sat in on the making of a video to teachers explaining the effects of homophobic slurs in the classroom.

As I sat there and listened to these people state facts about depression and suicide in LGBT kids, as well as personal stories of kids being afraid of their parents or going to school, my heart broke. I couldn’t believe that people who call themselves Christians look at this broken community in the face and say, “God hates you.”

Dillon and I told all of them in that room who The God of the Bible really is: a God who loves them unconditionally despite the lifestyle they’re living, and wants them to live a life far better than any happiness they think they find in sin. Seeing them and meeting them changed the way I look at this community as a whole, and God gave me a heart for the people that are searching. I believe they only need to find one thing: the love of Christ.

-Lindsay Spitaletto, upcoming senior at Wylie Preparatory Academy

  

This trip to England has been life changing, and it’s crazy to think we’ve only been here for 5 days. First, the culture is very different. Kids aren’t don’t fake being Christian and they don’t lie about their beliefs. For the most part, they’re open and honest and it’s very refreshing. They ask hard questions and aren’t afraid to disagree with the answer. It has taken a little while for them to feel comfortable and safe asking big questions, but, once they do, the gears start to turn and questions come out like they’ve been set on rapid-fire mode.

The kids are either extremely interested in Christianity or not at all. It’s very exciting when they are, because they actually discuss and think rather than waiting for a chance to talk. Mind you, these are 6th-9th graders, but they ask questions like any curious person would.

What I’ve found odd about the students we’ve met is that the ones who seem the rowdiest, least interested, and most irritated, seem to provide the best conversations. For instance, I had a group of all 8th grade guys, they were “the rowdiest bunch in the school” according to the teacher, but the conversations we had were rich and deep. They asked about my testimony and why it mattered. The kids’ focuses were unbreakable. God allowed us to make a connection, which perfectly paved the way for me to speak the Truth. These students aren’t scared either; to interrupt, oppose, upset, offend, and argue. You can’t scare them away by bringing up religion. They love conversations about it and it’s always fun to see their train of thought change directions with every bit of new info acquired from “us Americans.”

God is throwing open doors I’ve been hesitant to crack and it’s led to not only me getting to share the gospel, but strengthening my faith! I’m very thankful for the opportunity and even more excited for what lies ahead.

-Austin Probasco, upcoming senior at Plano East High School

Join us in praying for the Middlesbrough team as they head into King’s for one last day. Let’s ask Jesus to equip them with supernatural strength and wisdom and love for the sake of the Kingdom. And for Him to move in unimaginable ways!

Please also pray alongside us for all the people that the York team met and invested the gospel in while they were at Manor School. Asking Jesus to bear fruit and draw hearts near to Himself through the time the York team spent at Manor!

We truly are so grateful to you, dear readers, for following along in our journey and for how you are fighting alongside us for the Kingdom to sit down. You are as much a part of this trip as we are, as we all are on the same team with the same goal: that every tribe, tongue and nation would worship God alone as holy through the power of the gospel at work in them. Let’s proclaim that boldly in all we do today.


For more photos and updates from our time here, check out @heightsstudents on Instagram and Twitter and our Heights Students Facebook page. You can also search the hashtag #thsmengland15 to be apart of the journey!

England Post #5: Abundance.

Ever have those days where so much happens you don’t know where to begin? I think it’s safe to say today is one of those days (and if I’m honest, this week is one of those weeks). Today there are an abundance of awesome stories to tell you about how God is has shown us His glory and has been moving in incredible, unexplainable ways.

Choosing two of the many stories was hard, but don’t worry, the others will be shared soon!

These past few days in Middlesbrough have been truly amazing. The Lord has moved in some awesome ways! We’ve received many challenging questions that have led to great conversations that builds relationships. Through building relationships here, we’ve been given awesome opportunities to clarify misconceptions about Christianity and wrestle through hard topics that challenge us to grow in our faith and understanding. Many of these kids are eager to know more about what we believe and practice as Christians and we are so eager to share.

Today in a year 10 (9th grade) class, I had three students engage me in a great conversation after Marisa and I shared our stories. The students were eager to know the answers to such questions as “How do you make moral decisions?” “How do you know God answers prayers?” “Why don’t all Christians live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus?” Finally, one boy (Ethan) asked the big one. “Do you think that all people who aren’t Christians go to hell?”

Fortunately the question was asked right before a break, so I had all the time I needed to give him a full answer, walking him through the fall in the garden, and explaining man’s separation from God. God gave me the opportunity to lay out the Gospel for him, while also emphasizing how separation from God breaks our hearts and fuels our sense of gospel urgency. He was very receptive. He thanked me for the answer (that was maybe more extensive than he had hoped for) and we parted ways.

It’s conversations like the one I had with my friend Ethan today that let me know that the Spirit is moving and planting seeds in King’s Academy. Ethan came away with a better understanding of what we believe and live out, as well as our purpose for being in his school.

The Lord is good as He is working through us in King’s Academy. Please pray that we will continue to be challenged, seeds will continue to be sown, and that the Lord’s presence will be known in the school.

-Clint Kruse, upcoming senior at Plano Senior High

As I write this, I sit here still in amazement of what the Lord did today in Manor! We finished up our last few formal classes with the students. The last class that we went into was one of the most rewarding.

When we walked into the class room there were a bunch of 12-13 year olds hopped up on sugar, running around with candy in their mouths, and the only thing I could think was how long, tiring, and hard this class was going to be. When we started getting into group, I began telling my story. I noticed a kid that was super interested in what I had to say. When I finished my testimony, a lot of them started getting up to get more candy, but the one boy curiously started asking questions.

I explained the gospel to Him and he told me what he believed. He said he believed some of the same things about creation, but was confused on the things about Jesus and how that affected him 2000 years later. The children around us were being crazy, but the boy (Charlie) was totally focused and wanted to know more.

It was amazing to see the Lord work on his heart. After about an hour of talking I finally asked him what he would consider himself. He said that maybe he would say he was a Christian, but he wasn’t for sure. He said he knew he was a sinner and he was in need of saving, and that Jesus died to save him. He realized it was not about anything he did or could do, but about what Jesus already did. He wanted to put his trust in something so much bigger than himself.

Eli (the gap year worker), Charlie, and I talked alone for a bit about the decision that he wanted to make. After our conversation Charlie decided that he wanted to become a son of the King and placed his faith in Jesus!!!

Looking back on this conversation I know that all the words that came out of my mouth were not mine but God’s. To all the glory be to Him, because it is the Lord that saves and not us. God just showed His goodness today as he opened the eyes of a boy to see that he was missing something. God continues to remind me of how good He is and how He continuously pursues us, day in and day out, even when we are not pursuing Him.

This reminds me of the passage in Matthew 18:10-14 that when out of 100 sheep one went astray the Shepard left the 99 to go and find the lost one. The Lord showed me how he chases after the lost people and rejoices when his child returns. I am so joyful tonight as I realize that we now have a new brother in Christ and that God is working in many people here in England! Praying for more fruitful times in the next few days and I am so thankful that the Lord lets us be part of His plan of redeeming His people.

-Payton Esparza, upcoming senior at Allen High School

Well, those stories pretty much do all the talking. God is active and moving, working perfectly to redeem all people, places and things to Himself!!! The Lord led me to this Scripture tonight as I sat down to reflect on all that He’s doing. This sums it up–

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” Psalm 98:1-4

Our God has worked salvation on our behalf. And we have the honor and great joy of sharing that wherever we go, with everyone we meet. Pray, asking the Lord to keep stirring up a sense of gospel urgency in us as we finish out the week strong and for Him to change hearts in response to the gospel!

Also, for more photos and updates from our time here, check out @heightsstudents on Instagram and Twitter and our Heights Students Facebook page. You can also search the hashtag #thsmengland15 to be apart of the journey!