2017 Sri Lanka – Amanda Hawkins

God’s Grace is Sufficient

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10

This is my 2nd short term missions trip with New Philadelphia Church. I feel like it is always an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity, and this trip was no exception. This past season has been a long road of healing, self discovery, and trusting God. As you may know, these processes usually involve a bit of stretching. But in the recent months while praying on two different occasions, God gave me two different but similar visions. The first one was simply a picture of a very curvy road behind me, but ahead it was straight. I felt like God was saying that my tough season was coming to an end, and that it was going to be smooth ahead. Praise God! I was really encouraged! I was ready for a little less battling. The second vision came at the most recent church leadership retreat. I myself walking beside Jesus and then He picked me up and carried me. I wasn’t sure what this meant, and I actually saw myself as weak, but later that same night someone prayed over me and had the same vision. And they confirmed that God wanted to carry me. He wanted me to have rest.

Thus as mission season approached, I felt like God was asking me to be sent out into the field. The suggestion was subtle, but I was glad to say yes. And as I began to prepare, I felt God’s abundant grace, starting with support raising. The amount of money to be raised was double the amount from my previous trip, and I thought it was quite a bit more than I could handle out of pocket. But even before I knew the number, I felt God reminding me to ask one particular person to partner with me financially. They weren’t on my original list. But when I messaged them, they immediately responded with “How much do you need?” I told them how much I needed to raise and later that day, the total amount was deposited into my account! So going home to the States, the burden of support raising was lifted. Home was great, and I planned on leaving a few days before missions to alleviate a bit of jet lag. However I was flying standby during Christmas week. Thus my San Francisco layover ended up being extended one extra night. I think my team was a bit concerned and was wondering what would happen if I didn’t make it to Korea in time to depart with everyone to the mission field. But I felt like God asked me to go, and thus He wasn’t going to leave me behind. After praying for me to just get a seat, the next day I was not only given a seat, but upgraded to first class! I held back tears when they called my name to get my ticket. God is so good!

God’s grace also manifested through my trip responsibilities. When filling out the application for team roles, my request was to be the photographer. I’d always wanted to do this, but honestly I had no official experience. I was an art major in college so I felt like I had an eye for it, and I did take a photo class with film many years ago. But I hadn’t actually taken pictures with a manual digital camera. But for some reason I thought, why not ask and see? And to my surprise I was given the role of assistant photographer. I was so excited! But I was also nervous because although I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, I now had the responsibility of representing my team and church. However it ended up being really fun, and Heidi (the main photographer) did know what she was doing and was also very gracious, helping me the whole time. In addition, our accommodations were great. And we had an amazing team- we all got along and meshed really well. Personally I felt so free on this trip. I was amazed more and more each day how God took care of me and the team in such abundance.

God also continued to show me rest and grace through Pastor Sarath, our local contact. God’s love was manifested through the way Pastor Sarath took care of us and served our team. To me he exemplified the role of a great leader, pastor, and father figure. I was so touched by the extent to which he served our team, as if we were his own family. Despite the fact that his wife had had major surgery just the week prior, he welcomed us into his home for dinner, and we continued to reconvene in his home throughout the week. Pastor Sarath made sure we had silverware whenever it was time to eat, since in Sri Lankan culture people eat with their hands and he knew that our team was still new to this. Whenever we took a break on our long bus voyages, Pastor Sarath would always check the restrooms to make sure everything was sanitary and that we would be comfortable. His two children, Ezekiel and Sarah, also accompanied us on our trip, as well as a team of ministry leaders he has been discipling. Everyone was so willing to serve, and welcomed our team with open arms. Pastor Sarath has such a father’s heart. He truly cares for each and every person with whom he serves. He was so intentional to affirm even the smallest details of how everyone ministers. He was also very open about what each church community needed and the issues they were encountering. Pastor Sarath is such a great man of God, and an example for his family and staff. Our team was so blessed by his graciousness and love.

I have been reflecting on this trip and how amazing and how grateful I am to have been a part of it. I honestly don’t feel like I had a major role, and at times I’d wonder why I was sent. What was my purpose? I even found myself feeling a little guilty that I didn’t take part in any spiritual warfare. I was so free! But I came to realize that God truly wanted me to have rest. He wanted me to experience His grace and love in abundance. Thus thank you Lord for showing me what a good father You are, and how much You love me. What an amazing way to end 2016- the year of rest- and enter into the year of renewal!