In Other Words

"This mission trip helped me to understand that I should rely on God instead of myself. It is easy to think I that I have everything put together based on my education here at Walla Walla University. I assumed because I am a theology major that I know everything there is to know about evangelism. I assumed because I 'should know,' I believed I couldn't be wrong, but that is just the mentality I chose to place in this aspect of my life. I found I was wrong. I found that God can use me or anyone else to serve in this area. God has control of my life and without Him I am a nobody. I found it isn't about my eloquence or charm or the amount of times I get to preach, but completely about God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that should lead the way; it always has been."

Enrique Vado, Walla Walla University

"Going to the Third World and living life with people there was a profoundly transformational experience. Life slowed down, and the only things that seemed to matter were God’s present work in the world. One memory that sticks out is the night I preached on the Second Coming. I hadn’t had much response throughout the week with the calls I was giving each night, but the Lord did something that night to the hearts of the listeners. I preached the sermon, partly exhausted from preaching every night and partly fighting a stomach bug, with little energy and life. I barely remember what I preached during the message, but when I was finishing I had my translator make the appeal, mainly because he had a hard time translating me when I went off the cuff. He carried the appeal, and by God’s grace almost the entire congregation came forward. I was reminded of the burning desire that people around the world have for the return of Christ. Where poverty, hunger and oppression are the worst, the desire for Jesus is so much more profound. I came away with a sense of renewed hunger for the Second Coming myself. The Guatemalans taught me how to hunger for Christ and Him alone."

Troy Wallace, Walla Walla University

"As an intern pastor, an associate pastor in the Washington conference, this proved valuable to me on a professional level. It allowed me to witness how Adventism outside of the United States and encouraged me to adapt my message to fit the people of Guatemala. It even challenged me to make appeals, or altar calls, every single night. This grew me in necessary ways that will be helpful throughout my ministerial career. On a less professional and more personal level, this mission trip allowed me to drink from fresh waters, be nourished by other ministers (students and pastors alike), and step into the uncomfortable nature of missional preaching. As an intern pastor, I felt that the NPUC invested in myself and other young pastors and equipped us to better serve our own conferences and union. I believe I am a better-trained [and] more sensitive and nurturing pastor because of this experience. Thank you for making this possible for myself and others."

Abner Campos, Auburn City Church

"I’m sitting in a row of white, plastic lawn chairs as I pray for my final sermon in Guatemala. Sweeping my shoe over the dirt, I suddenly begin considering how I could use an object lesson to explain the main point: the power of words. I look all around in this tin roof structure for an object that will work; my eyes fall on the bouquet of flowers in front of me. I pray, I think, then pluck one white flower from the back. Six months prior, I was expecting the sermons to make little impact. I was fairly confident with creating accessible sermons on my own, but for this series we had to use premade sermons (they were actually quite good) and I was afraid they were not good enough to reach hearts. However, each morning during our testimony time, I would hear my friends share realizations about their need to depend on the Jesus’ grace more than their sermons. I was floored by their stories about people thanking them in tears and bright smiles. I realized that preaching is not held back by my lack of experience or brilliance, but by my self-dependence and fear. The simple truth is really all the Spirit needs. During the appeal, I am plucking off the flower’s petals, speaking self-defeating phrases from my past. A question comes to mind: 'Wasn’t the flower beautiful already, just as it was?' The question chokes me up. All week I felt the weight of my insufficiencies, but the question reminds me that I do not need to be ashamed of them. Christ called me despite my weaknesses and takes pride in who He has made me to be. Tears are running down faces. Many come forward, surrendering their unhealthy thoughts. This is Jesus’ grace being sufficient."

Austin Greer, Walla Walla University

Featured in: July/August 2018