Stephanie Lewey shares about her experience in Costa Rica:

I’ve gone on mission trips before, so when the opportunity came up to serve as an adult leader with my youth choir in Costa Rica I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I can spend nights and days without the comforts we have in America, I can help put on VBS for children with whom we don’t share a common language, I can spend days in the sweltering heat erecting homes or something of the like…but share the gospel, evangelize? No stinkin’ way! As soon as I found out what our mission trip to Costa Rica was calling us to do, I immediately wished I could get myself out!

Leading up to the trip we participated in training sessions to help equip our team to share the gospel (which I was very thankful for), but I was still fearful, lacking confidence and a whole-hearted desire to be going on this mission. But I knew God had his hand on the trip and each of our lives as well as all the locals we would cross paths with. I had a grown considerably in my walk with the Lord in the more recent years and knew this trip would bring that relationship to a new level. So in these things I was excited. But what He did (in my life and through others) was far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

God made me a very passionate and expressive person and during the first morning of our in-field training He took that and blew it up 10 fold! Leaving for lunch I was more than ready to go out and share the gospel! Don’t get me wrong, I was still quite nervous but God gave us a message and I couldn’t have been more excited to share it! Everything that was plaguing me before was no longer even a tiny thought in my mind. And I can’t help but use the cliché, He ignited a flame within me I’d never experienced before! It was the beginning of the shattering of my world He accomplished that week.

After sharing the gospel at the first house the initial jitters were gone, I felt filled in the Spirit and even more amped to continue sharing. House after house that’s how it went for me; the desire to share, growing bigger and bigger but at the same time my humanity being revealed to me, up to the very last house on the trip. Every single time we left one house and made our way to the next, I had nerves leading up to the next house allowing us to share God’s message with them. But each time I began to speak I had a sense of peace wash over me, feeling as though the Lord was speaking through me, even during the times of uncertainty of how to respond to a question/comment, my fumbling of words or struggling through the Bible and each time we walked away I was more confident in Him. Because it wasn’t about me at all, but entirely about HIM, furthering HIS kingdom, helping to make disciples of HIS children, sharing the story of HIS love and grace. Even more impactful to me, He didn’t need me or my team for any of this, but He desires a relationship with us and called us in this way to grow with Him! This is just one of the many things God did in my life during this trip.

The training NEXT gave us leading up to the trip coupled with the daily in-field leadership and missional training sessions, led by their staff who are overflowing with the Spirit, played a huge role in what the Lord did in my life on this trip. NEXT’s trips are not “drive-by missions”, swooping in for a short time to share the gospel and do good things for the community. They’re about equipping each one of their travelers to live the mission! And living that mission happens most AFTER the trip is over. The trip is just the catalyst. We have a message and we can’t allow our American culture or anything else stifle it! I look forward to prayerfully and financially supporting NEXT from this point onward. I’m not gonna lie, I’m already praying God calls me to serve on other trip(s)!

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