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This time our blog comes from a different perspective.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

Welcome reader,

My name is Justin Malawey, I am 15 years old and am in my junior year of high school. I’ve lived in Wentzville for almost 6 years and my family has been attending FBC Wentzville since then.

I have wanted to go on an International Mission Trip since I was twelve when I saw a statistic of how many people groups and individuals had never heard the gospel. I knew that if I could make a difference in that number I wanted to at least try.  So when I heard about the opportunity to go on my first mission trip to Panama, I had to try.

The first step in being able to go, was getting a passport. To get a passport when you are younger than 15, both parents or guardians have to be at the post office in person. Getting both parents there before it closed was a challenge with schedules but somehow, we made it work. After we got the paperwork into the post office, I had to wait to get the passport back. It took about a month and a half for it to show up in the mail. I was very concerned that it wouldn't come in on time, but God made a way.

I had never been on an airplane before so this was a totally new experience. My first reaction to the airport was that there were fewer people than I expected. This may be because we got there at 4 a.m. to check our luggage and secure our boarding passes.  After our five team members got our boarding passes, we saw that we had TSA precheck.  I didn't know what this meant, but came to find out it meant that we didn't have to take our shoes off at security and it has a shorter line. Thankfully, we went through security without any big issues.

We waited for approximately an hour before we started boarding. They scanned our passes, we walked through a tube to enter the plane, and I walked to the very back where I was supposed to sit. Some people say that take-off is really bad, but I thought it was quite boring. To me, take-off felt like the very start of a roller coaster when it’s speeding up, but after that the flight was boring. If you haven’t been on a flight, I have one suggestion: bring a phone, tablet, or something to do, otherwise you will be very bored.

Panama was very beautiful, especially the plants which are everywhere. The temperatures were nice as it was about the same as here in Missouri most of the time, but the humidity is way higher than here. There were fields of grass, mountains and forests in the country which was nice because we got to see some of God’s creation while we were there.

I haven't traveled a whole lot but if I had to compare Panama City to somewhere I have been, it is about the size of St Louis. The architecture in Panama is different and beautiful with bright colors and designs everywhere.

When we arrived at the town we were going to work in, La Pintada, I discovered that the people were very nice and welcoming. They didn't seem to live by the clock as we do here, and everything felt like it went at a slower pace. They often showed up later than the time that an event started, but that is just part of their culture.

The food in Panama was pretty similar to the food we have here. I was surprised to discover that they have some of the same restaurants we have here including Subway and Papa John’s pizza.  Of course, they had their own restaurants which I enjoyed going to and trying some traditional Panamanian food. On Monday afternoon after VBS, we visited the beach and ate at an open-air seafood restaurant.  Then every day, we tried other Panamanian restaurants.

From Sunday to Thursday we worked in Vacation Bible School. We opened with music and songs, then the children went to their own classes.  On the first day we had 60 children attending and by the last day we had 113.  If we had remained longer, I think we would have seen even more children come to hear about Jesus.  I worked with the 5 and 6-year old’s, which I really enjoyed. I especially enjoyed helping with the crafts. God was also at work while we were there.  A teenage girl was saved on Thursday which was encouraging to see. Every evening there was an event planned. Most nights it was a revival type service which was cool because I got to see how a different culture praises the same God I do.

We left our work on Thursday afternoon and returned to Panama City.  On Friday morning we went to see the Panama Canal. We were on the Pacific side and got to watch a ship go through two of the locks up to the lake heading to the Atlantic side. In the background we saw the expansion to the new canal that opened in 2016. After watching the ships go through the canal, we saw a short movie about the creation of the canal, the expansion and other information about Panama. There was also a museum with some models of equipment used in the creation of the canal and the vehicles they use to guide the ships through. 

On Saturday we slept in because our flight was not until 1:45 p.m.  After arriving in Miami, going through customs, getting our luggage rechecked, and having a quick dinner, we departed and finally arrived back at Lambert St. Louis at 10:30 p.m.  We got back at the church at midnight.

In my opinion it was a successful mission trip and I hope that God was using us in ways that we didn’t see. If you have been trying to decide if you want to go on a mission trip, I would very much suggest going on one because it is an experience you will never forget with an impact bigger than you can imagine.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your day to read this.  Have a wonderful day and God bless!

 

Posted by Justin Malawey with
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         Despite the fact that the global population of the world is growing, the world is increasingly becoming a lonely place.  Statistics show us that loneliness is at an all-time high.  The scary thing is that many people don’t even realize their need for community because of the false reality that social media has created for us; giving us the idea we’re very connected to others.  In the church we see this play out as people will attend worship regularly, sit in a room with hundreds of people, potentially shake some hands.  They may make superficial conversation with some people before or during the service and then once it’s over, they’re gone.  Honestly, one of the saddest things is when I hear about is someone who talks about how they just don’t feel connected in our church.  Then, I find out the only thing they do is attend worship.  As important as the worship gathering is, if that’s your main connection point to the church, then you’re going to find yourself lonely and disconnected as well.

        This is exactly why plugging into a Bible Study group is so important.  We call our groups Sunday School and many of them meet on Sunday morning.  As we’ve already talked about, connection or community is an important aspect of Sunday School, but why else would you take another hour of your week to be a part of such a group?  Sunday School is the main strategy our church uses to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments.  Here’s how:

  1. One of the goals of Sunday School is helping people CONNECT to Christ and to others. Sunday School is intentionally evangelistic.  It is designed to unify groups of people in working together to reach people like that.  That makes it the perfect next step for people who live in our community or who learn about our church through participation in another ministry.  Sunday School groups usually hit a target demographic or life stage.  In doing so, each group is best equipped to reach those similar to them.  That’s why it’s so important that we have Sunday School groups for all ages.
  2. Sunday School groups are built to help people GROW in knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word. We use a curriculum that is simple enough for the new believer to take their first steps and also effective in setting up the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of the long time believer.  Part of growth in our Christian walk takes place in the context of community where, “iron sharpens iron”.  Where we can help each other with the speck in another’s eye, all while dealing with the log in our own eye.  Spiritual growth is more about what you learn to do and how you serve God as a result of the teaching than it is a new nugget of truth you’ve never heard.  That’s why Sunday School is a launch pad for new leaders both in the Sunday School ministry and in other ministries throughout the church.
  3. The natural overflow of someone becoming a disciple by helping people Connect to Christ and Grow in the teaching of the Word is to begin to SERVE. Sunday School provides opportunities to serve both in terms of leadership and roles to help the group exist.  Probably equally important are the countless opportunities that exist to serve one another.  When you’re part of a group, you get to know people, you learn about their needs, you begin to pray for them and ultimately you minister to their needs.  It’s in the context of a Sunday School group where the vast majority of the needs of people in our church are cared for.   Through the fellowship of believers who grow in relationship with one another, a love for one another develops and beautiful ministry begins to take place among the people involved.

        If you’ve never considered joining a Sunday School group or maybe you just haven’t quite found the right one for you; now is a great time to Plug Into Sunday School!  Over the next few weeks you’ll notice a number of our Sunday School groups in the foyer ready to share with you about their group.  If you need help finding a group, you’re always welcome to stop by our Welcome Center and they can direct you towards a group that fits where you’re at in life.  Another great way to find a group is by heading over the our website where you can check out a listing of all our Bible study group opportunities: http://www.fbcwentzville.com/ss-finder/

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with

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