Summer of Service Northwestern college - 2023

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

EVERY SUMMER SINCE 1981, around 20 Northwestern College students have spent 6 to 10 weeks serving as short-term missionaries through Summer of Service (SOS). They have served on six continents and in around 90 countries. Students raise the money themselves to cover transportation, room and board, and program expenses, mostly from family, friends, their home churches and on-campus service projects.

They have traveled to countries like Albania, Bolivia, Fiji, Ghana, Haiti, India, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Peru, Romania and Uganda to serve with mission partners including the Luke Society, Pioneers, Wycliffe and the Reformed Church in America. They have worked in churches, hospitals, orphanages, schools and refugee centers; taught vacation Bible school and English as a second language; and served in sports and hospitality ministries. They have milked yak, helped deliver babies and supported victims of sex trafficking. Summer of Service alumni often serve as missionaries after graduation: some for a week or a month, others for a lifetime.

Christians from around the world welcome Northwestern students into the action of their ongoing ministries. The students return home with questions about God and the world and stories of the surprising ways the Holy Spirit has transformed their hearts and minds. They say confidently that Christ is, indeed, at work in the world, and they're eager to discover what God wants them to do next.

Emily Kraft

Santisuk English School, Bangkok, Thailand

Emily partnered with Santisuk English School, a nonprofit language school that shares stories of Jesus with students who are learning English. When she and her teammates weren’t teaching, they explored the city with their students, making meaningful friendships along the way.

Planting seeds

It was so encouraging to see God working in a place where less than 1% of the population is Christian. Santisuk English School celebrated its 30th anniversary this summer—a true testament to the Lord’s faithfulness and an opportunity to anticipate the ways the school will continue to grow. I witnessed many seeds being planted in the hearts of my students, and I pray one day they will be able to recognize the love of Christ.

Back to the basics

Since returning home from my Summer of Service, I recognize how I have become comfortable in my faith. Throughout the summer, I was challenged to break down everything I knew about my faith and try to articulate it to someone who has never heard of Jesus. This gave me the opportunity to reflect and build a firm foundation of faith for the next journey the Lord has planned for me.

Lessons in love

My students loved me like Christ calls us to love our neighbor—even though they did not yet know Christ for themselves! God’s love for us has no limits. He calls us to love our neighbor with no limits. The Thai people demonstrated that to me through their genuine kindness.

PRAY FOR THE FAITHFUL Christians who are pursuing Christ in a dominantly Buddhist country. Pray for the teachers of Santisuk English School, that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit as they interact, teach and share about the goodness of God. Pray for the students, that their hearts will be open to the truth and that their ears will hear the goodness of the gospel. Pray for all the unreached people of Thailand, that there will be a stirring in their hearts for truth.

Brieannah De Jong

Helping Hands, Greece

Brieannah and two other Northwestern students worked with Helping Hands, a refugee ministry in Athens, Greece. Together they prepared food, cleaned, organized clothes for a clothing distribution, and built relationships with refugees and their families. Brieannah also had opportunities to volunteer with Christian Refugee Relief, Hellenic Ministries, and at One Heart Clinic, where she gained valuable cross-cultural nursing experience for her degree.

Breaking barriers

God led me outside my comfort zone this summer. Working in a culture completely different from mine and with people who didn’t speak English was a challenge, but it taught me to rely on God in uncertainty and to develop relationships with others even if I didn’t know their language. I was blessed by so many people this summer, including the couple I stayed with for two months, the staff of all the organizations, and the refugees as well. They taught me what it means to love God and love others.

Serving with a smile

In the past, I served by doing the things I wanted to do and shied away from the service I didn’t want to do or that made me afraid. This summer changed me because I was consistently devoting my time and heart to others, doing the things I wanted to do AND the things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to clean the bathrooms at the camps, but I did it anyway. I didn’t want to clean guts out of a chicken, but I did it with a smile on my face. I now know what it means to serve others even if no one notices.

PRAY that the staff members of the refugee support organizations in Greece continue to be motivated to serve, because it is draining work mentally, physically and spiritually. Pray also that they find more refugees to serve and point toward Christ so they can be saved. Pray for the refugees who aren’t in Greece, that they find the support they need to keep them safe.

Alexandra Bryant

One Collective, Oxford, England

In partnership with One Collective, Alexandra engaged in relational ministry at The Jungle, an art gallery turned community center where her team read stories to children and enjoyed fellowship over tea with senior adults. She and her teammates also tutored and entertained children at a local food bank while their parents gathered what they needed. To conclude their time in Oxford, Alexandra’s team hosted a “Jungle Fest” with fun activities for all ages and a screening of an episode of “The Chosen.”

God at work

A newer ministry, One Collective in Oxford is thriving, and God’s hand is very evident in all the work being done there. The people we served with held several different programs this summer, and I am grateful to have seen how God provided for each one. The missionaries are being led by the Spirit to start several new programs this fall, including an after-school club to help kids with homework and a women’s self-esteem course.

Obedience to Christ

God is using my SOS experience to prune the areas of my life where tradition and religion have gotten in the way of the gospel and loving others well. I've been discovering the significance of faith expressing itself through love and I've been learning more and more that obedience to Christ is ultimately about loving the Father and others.

I saw these things being lived out by Lola Chapman, the catalyst for One Collective, who ministered to me in such a motherly way and encouraged me to lean into leadership. Bev, another member of the Oxford team, led us by example in engaging spiritual warfare with fervor. God is teaching me about how the devil attacks me and is equipping me to fight these doubts and lies with the Word.

Changes of heart

God is constantly reforming me to have a heart after his own heart. I no longer want to believe the lies that I need to prove myself and my worth. I no longer want to face spiritual warfare without standing up and fighting with the Word of God and the armor he provides. Rather than wanting to get through my education as quickly as possible to move onto the next thing, I want to discover how God will use me each day. I want to go to church and have my quiet time not because it’s what a “good Christian” should do, but because I want to rest in his presence and know him more.

PRAY FOR PROTECTION, wisdom and discernment as the Oxford team enters the next phase of program expansion. Pray especially that God would guard the integrity of their leadership team. The top three most pressing needs community members described are financial and budgeting needs, self-esteem issues, and isolation and loneliness.

A.J. Schaefer

Santisuk English School, Bangkok, Thailand

A.J. spent his summer teaching English classes at Santisuk English School in Bangkok, Thailand. In addition to teaching basic grammar and spelling, the Scripture-based curriculum opened the door to conversations about Jesus and Christianity.

Embodying Christ's love

On the first day of teaching, I felt uneasy because I did not know how to explain to my students that Jesus loves them. Explaining the gospel in such a short amount of time seemed impossible. I had to learn that it wasn’t about me—I was called to faithfully serve and love these students well through my actions and prayers. God is the one who is going to work in their hearts; my job was just to love. “How do I love?” was the biggest question on my mind this summer, and I am still working on an answer.

Getting to know Jesus

My students were very curious about Jesus, but it was tough for me to answer their questions since the whole religion was very new to them. I tried my best using Scripture to guide me, but it sometimes felt like a rabbit hole of questions. They came to really respect Jesus and his teachings, but they were still unsure of why they needed a Savior. Thankfully they are all enrolled to continue studying at Santisuk so they will learn more even though I am no longer there! God is working in their hearts.

Built on God's Word

I thought my faith was pretty solid before I left, but I soon realized there were a lot of cracks. A section of the Bible that explains what I experienced is Matthew 7:26-27:

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell, and the ruin of the house was great.

Thailand was a storm for me. God knocked down the little sandcastle I had built and handed me the blueprint for a home with a solid foundation—one built on him. I had all the knowledge of how to be a Christian, but I wasn’t putting it into practice. God taught me that I need to dig my roots deeper through prayer, discipleship and his Word.

PRAY THAT MORE PEOPLE accept the call to serve in Thailand, whether that is just for a month or for many years. They need more teachers to tell people about Jesus. Pray also that God would surround the missionaries and new Thai believers with a hedge of protection against spiritual warfare.

Kaylee Bandstra

One Collective, Oxford, England

Kaylee spent her summer engaged in relational ministry in Oxford, England. She and her teammates spent two mornings a week reading and playing with young children, then spent the afternoons sharing tea and conversation with senior adults. They also hosted a showing of “The Chosen” with a discussion afterward.

A sense of calling

As a result of my SOS experience, I am more open to accepting what God has called me to do, even if I don’t fully know what that calling is yet. God has been planting a passion for justice in my heart for a long time, and I have been hesitant to accept that. But experiencing different cultures and seeing that the need for God is a need all around the world made me more open to his call to pursue justice.

Making friends

I made friends with people from One Collective and the church I attended. I expected to have meaningful conversations and grow in relationships with other people, but as an introvert, it surprised me that I could call a few of these people my friends.

PRAY THAT OXFORD can see a revival in Christ. It is a very secular community. Pray also that the people whose lives we touched can become more curious about Christianity, leading them to find the truth.

Caitlin Hornback

Helping Hands, Greece

Serving with Helping Hands in Athens, Greece, Caitlin sought to meet the physical and spiritual needs of Afghan and Iranian refugees. She and her teammates shared fellowship with the refugees outside their camps, leading Bible studies and teaching them basic English. They also organized clothes and hygiene products for distribution to other refugee organizations, prepared meals at the Helping Hands center, and provided child care to parents who participated in Bible studies.

Smiles and hugs

Every Tuesday, our team would visit the camps where the refugees live until they can get their paperwork. The people who could speak Farsi led a Bible study with the refugee women. During this time, I was designated as the English teacher. The women I taught didn’t speak Farsi or any English, so it was an interesting experience to try and explain to these women what we were doing. I do not know if they learned any English, but we became friends without needing words: All we needed were our smiles and big hugs to know the love of God in one another.

Born again

My favorite experience this summer was when we went to weeklong Bible camps at Porto Astro. We would invite refugees to attend these camps as a safe escape as well as an opportunity to hear about God. It was beautiful to see the changes in people throughout the week. I remember seeing one man for the first time and being intimidated by him. He looked so angry and weary. By the end of the week, however, he was baptized and ran around giving people hugs with a huge grin on his face.

Finding family

Initially, I did not want to go on an SOS. My relationships are so important to me, and I did not want to leave them. However, God provided me with family and support in Greece. By the end of the summer, I did not want to leave Greece because of my relationships and new family there. I learned that even though I am so small, God is so big and cares for his people. Because of this, we are called to die to ourselves every day. To me, this meant dying to my sense of comfort. Rather than craving the comfort of home in the United States, I began to desire the comfort of being in the presence of God. He is all I need.

PRAY FOR HELPING HANDS as they discern how to best reach the refugees now that they are no longer living in the center of Athens. Pray that the refugees could come to know God through the love demonstrated by their ministry. Pray for the refugees who have been in Greece for a while, that their physical needs would be met—whether they need health care, a job or an affordable place to live. Pray also for the country as a whole—may the government see the needs of refugees and help in a way that is best for both the refugees and the country.

Erin Brouwer

Helping Hands, Greece

Erin and two other Northwestern students partnered with Helping Hands, a refugee support organization in Athens, Greece. They shared conversation and fellowship with refugees at a camp outside the city, organized clothing donations for distribution, prepared meals at the Helping Hands center, and delivered children’s and Scripture messages following a weekly meal with refugee families.

Tides of change

The number of refugees is dwindling in Athens because the government is preventing their entry. Greece no longer wants to take refugees in—they are exhausted from being at the front of the refugee crisis for so long. Many organizations that previously served refugees in Athens are shutting down due to a lack of work. Helping Hands has stood strong amid this change. And yet, they are not excluded from the effects of the government’s decisions. Much of the summer, we were labeled as “guinea pigs” as they tried new ways of ministering to the people in the city and even outside the city. My team and I quickly realized that our work over the summer would not be what we expected. Rather, our work was heavily relational since the low numbers allowed us to focus on individual people.

Humble servanthood

Heading into this summer, I definitely had an attitude of pride, without even realizing it. I was often struck by the humility and servanthood of the people I encountered. Many of them have little, yet generously give what little they do have—their time, resources and the good news of Christ. God revealed to me—through my own personal reflection and others speaking into me— how we are called to be humble servants of the Lord, not for our own benefit but for the glory of the kingdom. This is a lesson I have brought back home with me and am continuing to grow in.

Pursuing justice

As a result of my SOS experience, I am more culturally aware and attuned to what is happening in the world. I have always had a passion for pursuing justice, but this summer I discovered that the Lord has given me the heart and ability to serve vulnerable populations who are suffering because of injustices outside of their control. I have a better understanding of who God made me to be and what I value. I learned what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.

PRAY FOR THE RENEWAL of weary hearts. Many Helping Hands staff members have been there for a long time, and their work is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Pray that the missionaries on-site are empowered by the Holy Spirit to disciple everyone they meet. Pray especially for the refugees, those in the city and those in the camps. Pray also for those across the city and of all ethnicities who are not yet believers, that their hearts would be softened to experience the hope found in Christ.

Abigail Blok

City Church of Compton, Compton, California

Abigail spent eight weeks serving as a ministry intern at City Church of Compton in Southern California. She and her fellow interns led Bible studies for youth during community nights, organized art and soccer camps, and helped the families who pastor City Church by cleaning, cooking and completing administrative tasks for their small businesses. They also assisted with vacation Bible school and a middle school retreat at Emmanuel Reformed, a sponsoring church in Paramount, California.

Community-centered change

City Church is growing with families and individuals who are seeking the well-being of the city. There is a desire to pursue God and with that, a desire for justice and change within broken systems. It was beautiful to see a community whose heart for its neighbors has changed because of its relationship with God.

Family of believers

What I most want to take away from my SOS is the sense of community I experienced in Compton. There was an authentic and familial way in which our ministry partners welcomed others into their homes. I learned that God calls us to live within the community of believers. For example, we would often make a meal for 10 people, but then 18 people would end up coming for dinner. Our ministry partners, without hesitation, would invite them to stay for dinner and at that, would bring out their nicest food and drink. They live as Jesus calls the church to live—doing all aspects of life with the family of believers.

Intangible reward

My expectations for this summer were similar to a Spring Service Partnership. I figured that much of my summer would be spent doing manual labor projects, serving the community, sharing the gospel, etc. But the Lord revealed to me that I was not there to serve as much as I was to be served. Yes, I did work that benefited the community, but the relationships formed, prayers I received, and love that I witnessed were a far greater gift to me than what I could give to them. There is an intangible reward that you get from an SOS experience. It is not a satisfaction of oneself or a feeling of superiority as much as it is a humble realization that the Lord is faithful to reveal his love to others through you. Even in your brokenness, he uses you, and while you share his love with others, you get to experience it just the same.

PRAY FOR CONTINUAL GROWTH at City Church of Compton and for leaders who are willing to rise up and make changes in the system. Pray for balance and rest for each of the families as they continue to dedicate their lives to the city of Compton. Pray also for the community, that there would be healing between families and restoration of systems.

Laci Davenport

Pioneers, South Asia

Laci joined long-term missionary workers in South Asia, where they operate a tour company. She visited local landmarks and learned about the area’s culture and religions. She also befriended the young women living in her guesthouse, becoming a witness to the Christian faith and practicing spiritual disciplines such as fasting, “sabbathing” and prayer.

Need for the gospel

It was exciting to see that there are people in South Asia whose hearts are softened to the gospel! My friend R was able to hear the gospel and is continuing to ask questions about the Christian faith. The area where I served is simply unreached by the gospel—they need missionaries to bring up local believers who can do the same.

Learning and growth

The long-term workers and my team poured into me through one-on-one mentoring and teaching me how to disciple others. They exemplified what it means to have Jesus as your vine. The local girls we mentored taught me how to defend my faith and put into words what I believe. I learned how to share the gospel in different ways depending on what the person needed to hear to relate to Jesus. Because he served so many people, Jesus is multicultural in crossing religions, castes and cultures.

Changed perspective

Before my SOS, I saw the world from a small-town, Midwestern, white perspective where people like me were in the majority. Now I empathize more with people who don’t know English and have come to the U.S. from different cultures, making them the minority. I am more curious and I ask more questions, seeking out people who are different from me.

PRAY FOR OPEN HEARTS, that people would be receptive to the gospel. Pray that relationships would foster trust, creating opportunities to be vulnerable and share. Pray that more workers would be willing to go to the area and live faithfully into God’s calling. Pray for my personal relationship with R to continue and for more opportunities to share Bible stories with her.

BreElle Van Zee

Southeast Asia

While serving in Southeast Asia, BreElle taught English classes and learned about the region’s health care system by shadowing doctors and nurses in a local hospital. She also built relationships with long-term missionaries and local residents.

Different viewpoints

We experienced the region from the viewpoint of the missionaries living there as well as the locals we got to know. We took a few trips to explore with locals, which helped us see the region in a more authentic way than just from the perspective of a tourist. I got to meet lots of amazing people, see many beautiful places, learn about the culture, and see how God is working there in so many ways—even the ways that weren’t immediately evident to us.

Leaps of faith

God is teaching me to be bolder about faith in my day-to-day life and to take more risks regarding my faith. These risks may not look the same as those that the people of Southeast Asia face when sharing their faith, but they could be risks that help me look deeper at my faith and begin to trust God more fully. This summer, I learned there aren’t coincidences in God’s plan but that everything happens for a specific purpose—whether we realize it in the moment or not.

Peace for the future

God encouraged me throughout the whole summer by making me feel seen and known by him in small ways. When I would think about my long-term plans and whether I want to go into missions, God helped me feel peace in knowing I don’t need to have it all figured out right now.

PRAY THAT GOD would make himself known in Southeast Asia and that people would come to know God and be in relationship with him. We served in an area where people can feel lost within cultural, religious and government belief systems. They need a God who will help them find a greater purpose or calling.

Leah Rozeboom

Southeast Asia

Leah spent her summer teaching English to employees at a large hospital, where she also shadowed doctors and nurses and learned about the medical system in a third-world country. She also studied the Bible, shared fellowship with other Christians, and took lessons in the area's language three times a week.

Deepening relationships

It was exciting to see the long-term missionaries grow deeper relationships with the people. As a result, non-Christians might receive and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ when they hear about God from people they trust. The language barrier, however, makes it difficult to have conversations about deep topics. The long-term missionaries need support and encouragement to learn the area's language and continue to deepen their relationships with the people.

Imago Dei

98% of the people in the area where I served are either Buddhists or Animists. The remaining 2% are Christians. What surprised me, though, is how much I still saw God in the people. It reminded me that although they don’t know their creator, they are still made in the image of God! They bear attributes of him in the forms of kindness, love, generosity, selflessness and more. The long-term missionaries led us in a Bible study each week called “Made in God’s Image.” I learned more about who God has made us and called us to be in seven weeks than I have in my 20 years of being a Christian.

Global lens

Living in Southeast Asia was the first time I felt surrounded by people who weren’t the same as me. They didn’t speak the same language, hold the same values or believe in God. This caused me to zoom out the focus on myself and onto the world. After seeing people who are not blessed with many resources, I gained a deep desire to help them in some way. Whether that be donating money or time, packing meals here in the States, or sponsoring a child, I now want to be part of a solution to help God’s people who are in need. The verse “it is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35) truly came alive for me this summer.

PRAY FOR GOOD HEALTH on behalf of the long-term missionaries so they can persevere until the end of their two-year contract. Pray for the next missionary couple who will take their place, that they might be a good fit for the country and the work. Pray also that they will discover ways of connecting with people outside of English class. Pray for the people of Southeast Asia, that their hearts might be open to receiving Christ.

Abbie Jo Segerstrom

Santisuk English School, Bangkok, Thailand

Abbie spent eight weeks teaching English classes at the Santisuk English School, a nonprofit language school that shares stories of Jesus with students who are learning English. She also attended weekly small-group meetings where locals and the other missionaries would share about their walk with God.

Power of prayer

The biggest thing I learned this summer is the power of prayer. There was such a difference in my classroom when I started to pray for my students. Their confidence in class grew, they began to encourage one another and they asked more questions about the stories of Jesus. So many more beautiful things happened when I began to pray consistently and constantly.

Truly seeing

Prior to my SOS experience, when I thought about countries whose people needed to hear the gospel message, I didn’t consider the importance of it because I had never actually seen these people—and I didn’t see them the way I see the people right next to me. It was different once I had conversations that broke my heart because I knew these people wouldn’t experience eternity with God unless they realized their need for the gospel. The incredible news of the gospel is something that I will never again take for granted.

International friends

I think the biggest surprise for me this summer was just how much God grew my heart for missions and the Thai people. The Thai people have a way of welcoming and making a person feel so at home and at peace. I am grateful to all my dear friends in Thailand that made this summer one I’ll never forget.

PRAY THAT THE SCHOOL would continue to grow and that the hearts of the Thai people would be softened toward the gospel. Pray that current students would spread the word about the school so more people attend. Pray that there would be people who are willing to teach at the school and pray for energy for the teachers that are already there.

Emily Miller

Pioneers, Southeast Asia

Emily spent significant time building relationships with people in a rural village, sharing the gospel and answering their questions about the Christian faith. She also had opportunities to help with community development projects such as English teaching, trash cleanup and coral reef transplants.

Searching for more

Making friends was extremely easy within the cultural setting. We would go out and people would run up to us and ask for our WhatsApp number! We would then meet our new friends at a coffee shop or at their family home. Most of the people we met were fluent English speakers searching for something other than Islam, half Muslims who wanted more, or people who were actively reading the Bible. Islam is in every part of their lives and they were curious what Christianity was like for us. (Because most of us were white, they assumed automatically that we were Christian.) The gospel would make them tear up because the Father’s love for us was so foreign to them.

Unexpected conversations

God was so faithful during my SOS experience. He always answered our prayers in unexpected ways, surprising us with unexpected conversations about the gospel. One Sunday we went to a coffee shop for some quiet time and immediately we met someone who used to be a tour guide for Americans because his English is so good. He asked us questions about our faith and we were able to share the gospel with him. We were there for three hours and didn’t once pick up the books that we brought to read.

PRAY THAT THE MISSIONARIES would develop a strong network of contacts within the village. Pray for the five Muslims we were able to engage deeply with, that God would soften their hearts so they might follow him. Pray also for the safety of those who have already received the gospel—may God grant them courage to go and produce other believers.

Elizabeth Olsen

Poetice, Choma, Zambia

Elizabeth spent six weeks in Zambia serving alongside Poetice, a nonprofit committed to transforming cities through the revelation of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. She shared the gospel with local villages, worked with youth, and participated in hospital, market and prison ministries.

Body of Christ

Poetice is praying for a revival and breakthrough in the hearts of the people of Choma. They work hard to build relationships, serve the people in the community and lead others to Christ. I learned so much from the individuals on the team I served with. Their faith in the Lord inspired me to dig deeper in my own relationship with God. Through my teammates, God showed me what it looks like when the people of the body of Christ build one another up and use their specific gifts to serve him and his people.

Hearing God's voice

A key focus we had throughout the trip was on hearing the voice of God. We talked about how everyone hears the voice of God in their own way—he speaks uniquely to each of us. The Poetice staff would give us time during our worship sessions to practice listening to the voice of the Lord. In the beginning, I was frustrated because other people were sharing the ways they had heard the Lord speak to them, but I felt like I couldn’t hear him at all. I continued to pray about this, and God began to remind me of all the times I had heard his voice in the past. As the trip went on, I slowly began to hear his voice more and more. This is one of the biggest things I brought home with me: the necessity of relying on God in all things and continually communicating with him, both speaking to him and listening.

PRAY FOR REVIVAL across the city of Choma, that the people would see the Lord as their provider. Pray for the souls of the Poetice staff to be refreshed and for the Lord to be enough for them. Pray also that the Poetice ministry may continue to grow and flourish as they work to build a school.

Connor Van Peursem

Pioneers, Central Asia

Connor’s experiences were as diverse as the setting he was working in. He took lessons in Russian, participated in CrossFit classes and visited local villages. He also went to Russian bathhouses—where he met a man with whom he later shared the gospel—and helped lead English camps designed to connect local kids with a church.

Lessons learned

God taught me that no matter what expectations I had going into this experience, he was in charge. Like my Russian teacher said on the last day we were at her house, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him YOUR plan!” The people I met during my SOS were great. There is a large ministry happening in Central Asia, and the missionary team invested so much in my teammates and me. God showed me how good relationships can build you up in ways that are very needed.

Adapting to the field

God surprised me with how much we got to do and how much I really enjoyed it. I am not a big-city guy, but God helped me adapt so well to that environment, as well as to a team that I had never met before. We also accomplished a lot during the six weeks I was there, and we got to meet and form relationships with some incredible people.

PRAY FOR HEARTS to be softened to the gospel and for the missionaries as they seek more ways of effectively ministering to locals. Pray also that more people will join the CrossFit classes taught by one of the missionaries, so he can expand his outreach.

Kyle Christy

City Church of Compton, Compton, California

Kyle spent eight weeks as a ministry intern at City Church of Compton in southern California. He and his fellow interns facilitated an art and soccer camp, led Bible studies for youth during community nights, and helped with yardwork and painting jobs. They also assisted with vacation Bible school and a middle school retreat at Emmanuel Reformed, a sponsoring church in Paramount, California.


Along with serving the community of Compton, the four interns got to walk through a self-discovery process called Younique. The curriculum consisted of various teachings, readings, worksheets, tests and conversations. The reflection and many hours spent processing who God says I am and is calling me to be provided opportunity to name and better understand various passions, abilities, values and past experiences.

Beloved community

The holistic community that the church has established in Compton is beautiful. People do life together in a way that reflects the love of Jesus and shines a light in the city. The church and its partnerships with local nonprofits provided so many opportunities for families and kids to feel known, advocated for and welcomed.

Personal growth

God planted seeds in me throughout the summer that I will continue to see grow as I live into all I discovered about myself and God. Since being back, my perspective on what it means to do ministry as a resident assistant has developed. I now understand that time in solitude with God is still a commitment to my community. My appreciation for celebration has grown thanks to the Spanish-speaking community in Compton. When there is intentional time set aside to gather with friends and neighbors, there is space to make the simplest interactions impactful and beautiful. God has placed so much in my life to be thankful for—I need to continue to plan celebration and understand that there is a spirituality to just “hanging out.”

PRAY FOR THE NEWLY BAPTIZED members of the church, that they might continue to live out their faith and be discipled. Pray also for the families who run both the church and several local businesses—ask that they would experience rest and have business opportunities that benefit the community.

Lauren Eidsness

Simba Educational Ministries, Kenya

Lauren served six weeks with Simba Educational Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides schooling and resources for Kenyan families. She led a Bible study with seventh and eighth grade girls, taught at a local school, prayed over families during home visits and assisted with the ministry’s marketing needs.

Meeting a need

Simba Educational Ministries is currently sponsoring around 300 children, allowing them to go to school and receive physical and spiritual care. Child sponsorship not only allows for the child to go to school, but it also provides resources for the child’s family. Simba’s social workers regularly visit families and do whatever necessary to ensure they are self-sufficient and being poured into spiritually. It was exciting for me to meet so many families who have been transformed through God’s work with Simba Ministries.

Praying with power

One family taught me about the importance and power of prayer. This family had joy that can only come from the Lord. I was invited into their home while the grandmother prepared tea for us. The daughter explained more of their story to me. The heartache and hardships they had endured were immense. She showed me around the home, pointing out the holes in the roof leaking water whenever it rained.

Her final statement as we were leaving the home is what really stuck with me: “Prayer is what we need most, we need that more than money. Prayer is powerful!” Even though she has a desperate need, she understood that prayer is the most powerful. I was challenged to reflect on my own thoughts about prayer. Do I also think of prayer as the most powerful tool?

Still learning

I was encouraged by the girls I did Bible study with this summer. Even though I was supposed to be the teacher, I learned so much from them. We studied the book of Jonah, a story I had known from Sunday school. Some of the eighth grade girls had not heard this story before, so hearing their thoughts on it was an amazing experience. God used those sweet girls to encourage me and show me that we can always learn from his Word.

PRAY FOR SIMBA MINISTRIES as they build a new guest house (hotel) that will provide jobs to locals and a place for sponsor families and mission teams to stay. Pray that God would continue to provide resources and people, and that he would bless the future guests that will stay there.