Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

YL 1The Lord planted a seed for a mission trip in our heads at the beginning of this year. In fact we made new years resolutions and one of our friends said, “y’all will go on a mission trip.” We started researching and we are so thankful that Davis Orders went to Tanzania because it was through a friend telling us about his trip that we found Young Life Expeditions Africa.

We applied in January and the Lord answered quickly and the journey began. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I Am. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:3

To Kenya we were going, and the Lord began preparing our hearts from day 1. Between fundraising and attacks in Kenya…Satan was after us, but we persevered and come June 19th we were on our way to change the world in Kenya…or so we thought.

As we reflect on our time in Kenya and process what we experienced there were a few takeaways we wanted to share.

God is bigger than….

We discovered in a whole new way that you fill in the blank with anything and God is bigger than it…because He is bigger than everything. He is bigger than my city, my church, my problems. Bigger than any circumstance anyone in this world finds themselves in. He is bigger than fear. He is doing big things in Greenville and we get to be a part of that, and man…how prideful we were to not think He was doing big things in Kenya as well. God blew us away with His glory and love there. Young Life is expanding all over the continent of Africa and God is using this organization to do big things. In Kenya alone there are 391 leaders, 74 neighborhood groups and 125 clubs in schools. The work they are doing is incredible and the only way they are able to do it is solely through the resources that people donate through mostly America. They are reaching parts of Africa that seem to be unreachable.YL 2

Prayer life

Dependence on the Lord is so apparent in everything they do. Many of the friends we were able to meet and spend time with showed us what faith looks like. They are walking in life with the Lord having sacrificed something…whether it be a job, friends, family, traditions, culture, or even food. One of the Kenyan Young Life leaders, Martin, spoke at the first club about the sufferings and pains we cling to in life that can keep us from knowing the freedom we have in Christ. He challenged each kid to write down the pain and suffering they needed freedom from and then had them ask God to take it. They prayed about it and then came back together and lifted their papers up high while kneeling and praying. They then set a fire in a pot and each put their paper in the fire and said, “I surrender my pain and worries to Jesus.” You could feel their pain, their suffering, but also the Lord in that place. There were Muslims and children of Kenya at camp giving their lives boldly to Jesus Christ. It was powerful. It was beautiful and there just aren’t words that can describe it. Their daily prayers are outside of themselves, and their gratefulness for the mercy and grace the Lord has bestowed on them is beyond what I call thankful.

This gratefulness was extended to us when the entire camp of leaders and 200 kids surrounded us, laid their hands on us, and prayed for us. I have never felt more undeserving of their love than in that moment – what a humbling experience as 200+ voices prayed together thanking the Lord for us. I’ve never known a whisper to be so powerful. These people love us with true agape love unlike anything I have ever seen. We found it to be so unique that they invite the Holy Spirit into the presence of their prayers and where we are every time they pray. It was such a peaceful and comforting way to pray…as we know the Holy Spirit is with us, but what a humbling thing to invite Him in wherever we are…who doesn’t want to be invited in?YL 3

Eternal Wealth

America needs what Africa has. Society tells us that we are among the wealthy and they are not. Yet, we discovered they were not lacking in anything. Their wealth comes from within. When your wealth comes from within, you find that what pours out is joy and love despite any current circumstances. Their ability to “just be” was unsettling at first in contrast to the scheduled lives we normally live, but as the days went on we began to revel in every moment we got to “just be”…TIA (This Is Africa). The people of Africa focus so much on building relationships with the people around them. It is such a wonderful way to live out the gospel. God created us as relational beings and that’s what Jesus did during his time here on Earth. Jesus continues to pursue relationships all over the world with each and every one of us.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:13-15YL 4

Being the Same Yet so Different at the Same Time

One of the YL Leaders, James, warned us that many of the kids felt unequal to Americans or “mzungus” as they called us. They had not spent much time with mzungus so they had no idea how similar we all really are. They simply believe that America is a wealthy, well off nation and that we are better than them. We could feel and see this during an experience we had with a small group bible study. One of the boys was afraid to speak out or respond to the questions for fear that he would not sound smart. Martin, their leader, reassured and encouraged them that they were free to speak among us. As we shared more they began to open up with each other and us. The bible study was about HEALTHY friendships and the “T” in the word healthy stood for Trust. A boy named Johnte and I were partners and we began talking about what parts of a healthy friendship we struggled with. We discovered that we struggled with the same issues…trusting close friends and being completely honest with them. We were able to encourage each other and we came up with ways that we could practice this with the great friends the Lord had blessed us with. We talked about how with great risk comes great reward. We both agreed it was worth it to be honest and trust our close friends with our story…every part of our story!

The night before camp started we were spending time with some of the Kenyan leaders and we began talking to Peter. Maggie is really good at asking questions, so they began to come out as we were eating dinner and Peter answered them all. As we began learning more and more about his life, we could feel his pain from the past, the sacrifice he made for the Lord, and his joy and passion for what he is doing with Young Life. He sacrificed his friends to follow Jesus and relies on prayer to find work and to live. He spends so much of his time in prayer and in scripture. He was able to give such in depth scriptural explanations for topics like speaking in tongues and tithing. We were fascinated with his every word. He found it to be such a foreign concept that people in America could step into a church without ever sacrificing anything. We found such common ground in our conversations as he spoke of his introverted personality and him having a hard time making friends and trusting people. We found he struggled with relationships, singleness, and doubt…which all sounded too familiar to us.

These two relationships were just a small glimpse at how we discovered we are all the same yet so different at the same time.YL 5

Finding Joy in the Small Things

For entertainment at camp, in Nakuru, at the orphanage, or just every night with our team, we found such joy in a whole lot of dancing and games that required no materials. We played music as often as we could. One of the most moving moments was when Kelly turned on “Carry your Candle” and the children at the orphanage began singing it. It was as if the heavens opened up and the choirs were singing! We had a dance party at every stop we made and sometimes just in the van on our way to the next stop. We played games such as, “This is so much fun”, which simply requires 2 people and a lot of laughter. At camp we jumped our hearts out as we shouted, “Do you have rubber shoes?” or as we played, “Balance the ball”…with no ball. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with no props, no iPads, no toys…just our imaginations.YL 6

Experiencing God

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” – Romans 8:18

This verse is so much more real to us after having experienced the country of Kenya and God’s wonderful creation through the Kenyan people and the African animals. The presence of God is noticeably strong in Kenya as you gaze upon the landscape and interact with the people. The Christians there have faith in God’s promises so unwavering. God definitely has not forgotten Africa! This sums it all up for us…as we come home, humbled that the Lord allowed us to go and experience what He is already doing in Kenya. He did not need us to go. We got to go and be a part of what is already in place. We thought we would go and change the world, and oh how humbled we were.YL 7

Go be part of what God is already doing anywhere in this world, because He is everywhere.

“Do Something” by Matthew West

I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”


Big thank you to Maggie Aiken, Caroline Reynolds, and Kelly Martin for sharing their experience in Africa with us! Y’all are awesome and I know this will inspire and encourage others to go join in where God is already at work in their life!

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Photo Aug 06, 4 16 41 PMWhen we started Againstiflow it was just an idea, but we knew there was more to it. God lit a fire deep down in our hearts before we even said the word “Againstiflow” and it was obvious He wanted us to use our past experiences to bring people closer to Him. Why did God give us this desire? Why did He want us, of all people, to reach out to students and show them His love? There are tons of organizations that already do that! Well, I have no idea. I do know that being a Christian and acting on what God wants you to do is hard. Especially in today’s world…it is harder than ever. I am young and I would love to hear the opinion of an older person, but in my life I have never seen so many people running towards Jesus. BUT I have also never seen so many people running in the complete opposite direction! Just like the middle class is getting smaller in the economy I see the middle class getting smaller in Christianity. The lukewarm Christians, the ones of the fence, are for some reason put in a position to choose one way or the other. That is basically what happened to us…God kicked us in the face and woke us up from our state of sleep walking through life. The fire continues to burn stronger than ever and I think that is God giving us the strength to go out and pursue…because without the fire we wouldn’t be moving. God can use ANYONE and I mean anyone to shine a light on this world. Look at the 12 Disciples; look at the story of Joseph. When you go through life you wonder how God is going to use what you are going through for the greater good. The story of Joseph in the Bible always reminds me of this and my mom always reminds me of that story when I complain about something (Love you mom). If you are in a tough situation right now go read the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) and be prepared for God to ask you to do something that you might not feel like you are capable of doing.

We are really excited for whatever God has planned next for Againstiflow and we want anyone and everyone who wants to be involved to reach out to us. There are numerous ways you can support us with your time and your prayers.

AgainstiMentors

An AgainstiMentor is someone who feels called to use their experiences in life to teach and guide our future leaders. We need individuals who are out of college and who would be interested in mentoring a college student who is in a similar situation as you when you were their age. If you want to get on our “Mentor List” contact us and when we find a good match your AgainstiMentoring will begin!

AgainstiBusiness

This is a group of men in the business world who have a passion for their trade and a passion for entrepreneurship. When great minds get together the possibilities of what can happen are endless. The main goal of this program is to prepare college students for the future “real world” and to have a good time doing it. Business projects, start-ups, internships, networking, and more. We meet the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6:30am at Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville, SC.

AgainstiMissions

We partner with non-profit organizations that spend all of their time and energy reaching out to foreign parts of the world and being the hands and feet of Christ. If you want to experience other parts of the world and if you want to serve the people of the world there is not a better group to do it with. First trip is this December to the Dominican Republic ($1400). Details here!

AgainstiGroups

These groups are for college students. We will go through various studies and dig into The Word while tackling all the challenging questions we face today. We will take awesome trips, serve the local community, and enjoy the beautiful world God has created for us. We are very excited about the possibilities within these AgainstiGroups. “Creating Community Against the Flow”

AgainstEvents

These will be random, spontaneous times when we decide we want to do something awesome…like have a huge bonfire or take a group of students to Frankie’s Fun Park…sign up for the newsletter if you want in on this fun or follow us on Facebook.

The best way you can support us is through diligent prayer. Pray for the fire in our hearts to stay blazing and pray for the youth of today…that they may rise up and become future leaders in a world that needs them more than ever!

I was just reminded of this…the night God got us together and put this on our hearts we were all sitting around a fire.

#againstiflow

ROW Web ImageDid you know…

1 out of every 6 people in the world remain trapped in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 USD per day?

So why ROW?

ROW’s goal is to serve the human, physical, and spiritual needs of others in an atmosphere of mutual concern and respect. As you can see from our website, our opportunity to serve is based on a thorough evaluation process and local partnership. ROW isolates the specific challenges that often cripple remote-access communities (and impede their opportunities to develop sustainability). ROW fights against poverty and the lack of access through “holistic” care, empowering communities to thrive independently within a model that is reproducible from one local community to another.

What keeps ROW afloat?

That question is tricky to answer, as there are many things and people that keep ROW afloat. However, if I had to name just one thing it would definitely be partnerships.

ROW partners with churches from all over the United States. ROW partners with schools – elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities. ROW partners with the local indigenous leaders of the communities in the countries in which it serves. ROW partners with other organizations and non-profits from all over the world. ROW partners with others because we know that we cannot do what we are called to do alone. Sure, ROW could try to do it alone. And we might even be able to take a few steps. But, a few steps does not compare to giant leaps.

One of the amazing aspects of partnerships is the fruitfulness of them; in other words, the relationships, the stories, the generating of new ideas. The relationships live on through generations. The stories fill people’s minds and hearts. The new ideas spark new relationships and stories. See how full circle it all is?

This is why I am thrilled that ROW and Againstiflow are going to the Dominican Republic together from December 14-20 to help with construction. We will all be able to share in all of those things together – all for the common goal to help positively transform lives and communities with the end goal of self-sustenance and the ultimate goal of reflecting God’s life-changing love.

Pray for us as we gear up for this trip, “for we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Peace and blessings,

Maggie Carruth
Director of Strategic Communications
row.org
@gowithROW