To introduce this week’s theme to the summer mission team (which is my role in a larger hierarchy of “ministry teams” within the mission), my partner and I created the video above.
This is something I have wanted to do for a long time as an artist. The idea of watching an artwork develop in a matter of minutes through time-lapse was always fascinating to me. The point of the video was to demonstrate how God’s truths have the power to erase and replace the lies we are told by ourselves and others about our ability to conquer “spiritual giants,” or things we are find too daunting or scary to attempt. For some on the mission, this was sharing the Gospel with a family member, for others it was sharing with large groups of people on the beach. Each student was encouraged to set one personal goal and one numerical goal of how many peKiople they were going to strive to share the Gospel with in the coming week. We asked, “If you were to dedicate one week of your life to the Gospel, what would that look like?” This was that week.
By Tuesday, “Killing the Giants Week,” as it was called, was in full swing and I was already tired. There were a lot of things I was not feeling good about, including a lot of things going on internally that I hadn’t had enough time to work out. This mission is a lot more go-go-go than I expected and so at this point I was frustrated with the lack of time I had to simply be with God and process things. I felt like I needed to spend some time on myself, so I was feeling very unprepared to go out and pour into other people.
The weather was also not cooperating particularly well; I was out on the beach sharing with two others when a storm, which was referred to for the rest of the week as “The Monsoon,” snuck up on us. We had a long outreach session planned for that night but because of the weather, the staff announced that they had decided last minute to switch reflection night (AKA “Date Night w/ Jesus,” usually on Wednesdays) with outreach night. This was a true answer to prayer and it felt like God saying, “I am here for you and I will take care of your needs.” I felt so refreshed afterwards and the next day was eager to get out and strive after my goals.
To wrap up Killing the Giants Week on Saturday, we all went for one last push at sharing on the beach. I got to share with one of the student staff members, Kelsie. At this point, I was nowhere close to my personal goal, but was still excited about going out and talking to people, knowing it wasn’t about the number. A few minutes into walking the beach, I admitted to her I was already kicking myself about passing up some people that we could’ve talked to. But we pressed on and had plenty of conversations in the next hour and a half.
When everyone met back together at the park, the styrofoam cutout of a person who was supposed to represent our “Giants” of the week, was propped up against the chainlink fence. We then had an open mic time where staff recognized some people who they had noticed did a commendable job conquering their giants. Then we as students were encouraged to recognize our peers for steps of faith we saw them take and were proud of. There were some seriously awesome stories and it was amazing to see all the growth God had prompted during the week in people.
I, however, was feeling a little down about the fact that I didn’t think I had done anything that week worth recognizing. I still took a lot out of this week, but didn’t have any wild success stories or accomplished goals. But at the very end of the open-mic time, Kelsie stepped up and said a few words about our time on the beach just before. She mentioned how after I acknowledged those first few people I passed up, I dove into each and every possible conversation and demonstrated the sovereignty of God because we still had great interactions with people despite “missteps” in the past. It was a small thing, but so encouraging and so well-timed!
When someone was recognized at this time, they took a softball and threw it at the cutout “giant,” symbolically breaking it down. There were a lot of people who missed on the first one or two throws, but everyone would cheer them on until they hit the giant. As I was watching, I thought about how great of an illustration of perseverance that was. And sure enough, when I was called up, I missed my first two throws. After the second one, I couldn’t not say something. So I turned around to everyone behind me and raised my voice a little to say:
“So many people have missed once or twice when they’ve come up here and as I’ve watched that I can’t help but think of perseverance. Sometimes it takes more than one or two tries. Like the group that shared with their parents this week – I think almost all of them didn’t hit the giant on their first throw but they had perseverance and we saw what happened; let’s hear it for them again. Perseverance!”
Everyone cheered, then I turned around and beamed the giant straight in the neck.