This is the second post in a 3 part series featuring testimonies from the University of Memphis' Christmas Break Mission trip to Central Asia. To read the first, click here.
This trip was nothing like I imagined it would be, but it was so much better. Even though I was only there for 10 short days, I learned so much about the people, the culture and the history. The whole time I was there I felt like I was living in a dream world because it seemed too perfect. The scenery was beautiful! It is hands down the prettiest place I have ever been to. I would take pictures and then look at them and I thought “this picture does not come close to showing the beauty of this place.” So then I would take videos to show people back home. I took videos and it still couldn’t capture the beauty of the city. It was so breathtaking. The longer I was there the more I started to fall more in love with the people. The city is beautiful but the people are even better. I have never met more hospitable people in my entire life. Our job on this trip was to hang out with college students. We would go to universities and sit at local coffee shops and try to start up a conversation with the people sitting around our tables. It was never really that hard for me to start a conversation because most of the time I would need help with almost everything. But the more I interacted with the people, the more beauty I saw in them.
One day our leaders decided to take us up to a hill that overlooks the city and you can see buildings for miles back at a time. We went there to prayer walk over the city, the people, and for God to open the eyes of the people there. As we were walking and praying I could hear little kids playing basketball outside and I was in the middle of praying for them when I heard the call to prayer go off. In that moment my heart dropped to the ground and I felt this huge burden to love these people right where they are at. I saw people coming up the hill to pray and I was reminded of a simple gospel truth that seemed to be the theme of this trip for me. The gospel truth that God has provided all that we could ever need and so much more in Jesus. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” The words that Paul speaks here came to light in my life. I saw for the first time that God’s salvation is a free gift to us. I will forever cherish the relationships that I made and the lessons that the Lord showed me on this trip. It was nothing like I thought it would be, but I am eternally grateful for the time that I spent there. When I was flying back home I wrote down a prayer for this city that I want to share. “God awaken this city's heart so they would know their need for you. Help them see that nothing they could ever do on their own efforts will ever be good enough. Help them see Their need for transforming grace. Awaken their souls. Show them who you are God.” All for His glory!