Our family had been praying over an opportunity to go on a mission trip for quite some time. Our initial thoughts were to go overseas to some far away land, but restrictions with schedules and finances seemed to make a mission trip difficult, if not impossible for us. Of course, there is nothing impossible for the LORD, and he laid on our hearts the short term mission trip taking place in our own back yard - Atlanta (Clarkston) with Global Frontier Missions (GFM). Global Frontier Missions is dedicated to mobilizing, training, and multiplying disciples and churches to meet physical and spiritual needs among the unreached people groups of the world. The trip was a three day weekend and the cost was in reach of our fund raising skills. Really just a perfect storm, the LORD meeting us at our need, providing an amazing opportunity for our family to experience a mission trip together! We emailed Larry Stamm and asked if it was too late to sign up. He wrote back saying we were actually the first to sign up, but we needed prayers to have the LORD call up more people in order to have the group of eight that is necessary to go. Almost immediately the LORD responded and within two weeks Larry wrote and said we had enough people to head to Clarkston, GA for a September weekend God-centered adventure.
As the weekend started to near ever more quickly, we started feeling hesitant about our choice. Call it nervous anxiety, or fear of the unknown, I do not know, but we began to doubt ourselves in being on this mission trip. We only knew one other member of the group, and after reading the itinerary we assumed that the trip would be a more learning environment than an actual hands-on experience. Our doubts came from our sinful nature, and wonderfully God’s still silent voice continued to push us towards perseverance, obedience and trust. Praise the LORD, because our lives are forever changed with this experience. It is hard to even begin to talk about the STM trip without getting a little stirred up, it was that awesome! First of the all, the GFC members that came, truly became our family. We were all so different yet God brought us so close together on that trip. We started off as a group of hodge podge Christian believers and came back as children of God, one family together under Christ forever. If I ended the story right there, that would have been enough to promote the trip to anyone and everyone, but God did not stop with our GFC family, He truly overflowed our cup and poured out what seemed like endless blessings during this trip.
When we arrived Friday afternoon, we immediately sat down for a 90-minute orientation. During that time we learned that a refugee is a person who, by reason of real or imagined danger, has left their home country and is unwilling to return because their lives are in danger due to times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution. Clarkston, located in Northeast Atlanta, was identified during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as a good area to place refugees. Today about 5000 refugees per year come to Clarkston from all over the world. Some stay for years, others for months.
Following the orientation we had the unique experience of going to an apartment complex just a couple of minutes from where we were housed and trained, a complex with a 100% refugee population. We were instructed to simply talk with people and love on the community. Much of GFM’s apartment complex strategy is relationship building. So our job was to help refugees understand that Christians are caring and loving. Some refugees have never heard the name of Jesus and have never met a Christian. Going to an apartment complex and talking with refugees was a real stretch!
Talk about a complete misconception of what we thought we were going to be doing. Instead of a sheltered, academic learning situation, we got a full-on hands-on experience sharing the most precious thing of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am sure if you asked the different GFCers about who made the greatest impact on them, each person would have a different response. The sheer amount of responses would offer a glimpse into the enormous impact the refugees made on each of us. We were amazed at how welcoming, inviting, and downright gracious these people groups were to us. All I can keep saying is how big God is - I mean, wow, His mighty Hand is everywhere. He is just SO BIG. All glory and honor belong to our Almighty God!
Right away, we were blessed with meeting a young man by the name of Durga, a Nepali refugee whose family were forced out of Bhutan and were forced to live in a refugee camp for 22 years. He offered us fresh mango, many cold drinks and even a super hot Nepalese pepper! (My eyes still water just thinking about how hot it was) We tried to offer up any service or skill we could provide in the name of Christ, and found out that Durga was in college and needed some homework help. It must have been another divine appointment, because it just so happens that Michelle is a math major and she offered to help work out some problems. Sometimes we think that we are so different and then all of the sudden, God just opens our eyes that we share much more in common than we know, specifically the fact that we share the image of our Creator. Durga was the epitome of someone that changed our hearts as we attempted to share the Gospel with him. His kindness, compassion, resilience from the past, and hope for the future showed us how small our vision can be. All the while, us being in fellowship presented the glory of God through each broken English word. We have stayed in contact with Durga since we returned home, and hope to continue our path together growing in Christ, and hopefully culminating with him accepting Christ as his own personal Savior.
Please know that this summary is the absolutely smallest glimpse into what really took place on this trip, not just for the refugees we were serving, but for all the GFC missionaries who followed God’s calling. I cannot stop at just recommending this trip for anyone who wants to be continued to be made anew, but we want to be more forward and bold, and actually challenge anyone to experience Global Frontier Missions and Clarkston, GA. Larry Nees started our trip with the word “Go” and how many times God used this one word to change the listeners forever. So as it began, we shall end it the same, just “GO!”
Posted on Wed, October 17, 2012
by Jeff and Michelle Champlin filed under