Not too long ago, three members of Candlewood Church, Jim and Diane Wiebelhaus and their daughter Katie, had the happy chance to go to Asia for two weeks. They were praying for opportunities to tell people about Jesus, to refresh and encourage the believers there, and to determine what God is leading for next steps toward healthy growth for the fellowship there. They were also able to connect with old friends and new.
I felt like there were touches with most of the people in the group there and it was good to see them working together and then see the results of their work.” – Diane
Jim was able to really connect with Kenny, an international student from Indonesia who asked him if he could tell him why he should believe in Jesus. On a two day road trip, Kenny made a strong move towards Jesus and a French student, Eddie, was able to witness this. Line-dancing and helping with English practice were great opportunities to interact with people that the church was reaching out to.
After visiting Asia, God has caused me to fall in love with the people and given me a desire to continue to reach out to them. Sharing the gospel [of Jesus] with those who have never really heard it before is an amazing experience. When I realize that so much of the world’s population lives in this area and so little of the focus of missions is going there, it makes me want to make my life count and have a greater impact. I came back with a greater desire to engage in the gospel,” Diane.
Trips to Asia tend to be different every year and so the team was very aware of their need to be flexible and for God to lead. A verse that Jim thought of frequently as he prayed for this mission was John 14:1, “Trust in God; trust also in me.”
While going to Asia is a great learning experience, it is important not to go with preconceived ideas what a missions trip will be like and be willing and ready to try new things and join in with whatever is going on. If someone is thinking of maybe going on one of these trips, Jim would encourage you with this:
“Go, go, go. Go to learn from others and serve. Read missionary biographies so you know the sacrifices of the saints who have went before us. Learn how to share Bible stories in an interesting way and then ask your listeners questions. My warning is this: don’t go thinking you know a lot, but go to observe. Ask good questions, be generous with compliments, don’t criticize their culture or country.”
A thought that Jim was praying over from the ISM conference back in June was, “Ask not, ‘What can we spare?’ but ‘What will it take?’” He said, “I am much more aware of how desperately sick I am. I love all my comforts and family though millions and millions have never met a Christian – it is so hard for me to get really busy sharing the gospel and making disciples. Pray for me.”