experience of a lifetime
Two ETEAM participants reflect on a summer of adventure and outreach.
Find out more about participating in the ETEAM summer mission program: www.fwbgo.com.
Experience of a Lifetime
by Tom Dubose
We had the most remarkable experience this past summer. My daughter Amber went to Mexico in 2007 so I had some knowledge of E-TEAM. But experiencing it for myself was truly awesome.
It’s hard to sum up all that happened in just a few words. I will spend the rest of my life sharing the experiences God allowed us to have this past summer. Let me share just a few highlights.
Spending a week in training with all nine E-TEAMs was amazing. The training was intense—and needs to be if you are going to take a mission trip. The worship services and concert of prayer were awesome. God is doing something great among our young people.
My second blessing was spending the next two weeks with nine teens from different parts of the country. They all came together to form a team, not just a group. I am thankful for each and every one God placed on our team.
The most outstanding blessing of the trip came on Saturday of the first week we were in Brazil. We passed out invitations to The Jesus Film. As it was shown at the Ouro Verde Mission Church later that night, I noticed an older gentleman in a black leather coat stood the entire time.
During the same film a 10-year-old girl came and asked me “Why would you leave your country and come to Brazil?” I told her it was because I wanted to see her. She replied, “How did you know I was here?” I responded, “I knew there was someone down here I needed to meet; I came down here just to meet you.”
E-TEAM is the greatest thing we having going to challenge our young people to be involved in missions. I encourage every parent and pastor to challenge their young people to take a trip with E-TEAM.
About the Writer: Tom DuBose pastors Glenwood FWB Church,
E-TEAM Hokkaido, 2008 by
Silence. That’s such an unusual word for me to experience. If you know me, you know I’m never quiet! My lips are always moving and my brain is always spinning. This summer, for the first time in my life, I experienced true silence while on E-TEAM.
In Japan our team split into groups to stay with a Japanese family for a night. A teammate and I stayed with a lady named Kazuko and her husband. What an adventure we had trying to communicate using charades and an electronic dictionary.
As our time together grew to a close, Kazuko called us into a room where we had participated in a tea ceremony a few days before. She opened a cabinet to a sight that took my breath away. Before my eyes was a tall Buddhist altar made of real gold.
“You’re Christian...Okay to look?” The question brought my mind back to the room and the people around me. My friend and I nodded our heads in silence. Kazuko told us that she is an only child and it’s up to her to make her parents happy in their afterlife by praying to this altar everyday.
When she finished explaining the significance of the altar, everything was quiet. I thought, “Say something! Anything!! This is the perfect time to witness to her!” Yet, I found myself speechless.
Even the thoughts in my head were silenced as we stared at the golden altar. Never in my life had I experienced such deep silence. Finally, the only thing I could think to say was, “Can we take a picture?”
As I reflected on this experience, my heart broke even more than before for the lost Japanese. For days I felt horrible for not saying anything. Of all the times to stay quiet, this shouldn’t have been one of them!
A few days later our team went to the graveyard in Hokkaido—probably the biggest graveyard I’d ever seen. We were assigned to sections and told to count how many cross-marked graves were in the whole area. On top of that, we had to keep in mind that one grave was for many generations of families. Out of several hundred and maybe even a thousand graves, we only counted 19 cross-marked graves. Christianity to the Japanese can be anything that isn’t Shintoism or Buddhism. Out of the 19 we found, who knows how many were true Christians?
We talked about our experiences during a debriefing in Japan. As I expressed my frustration with myself for not saying anything to Kazuko, Jonathan Lawrence, a summer intern, offered encouragement. He told us that sometimes silences speak more than words. The Japanese are very observant, especially with Americans, and even more with Americans in their homes.
Although we didn't say anything, she noticed our reactions and facial expressions when we saw the Buddhist altar. He also pointed out that sometimes God wants us to be speechless and silent. That moment was probably one of those times.
The home stay experience put a face to the graves. I never met the ones who died without knowing Jesus, but I know some who may if we don’t do something soon!
About the Writer: Fledgling journalist Crystal Hodges lives just outside of Fresno, CA.