By Alyssa Singh, Sophomore, Seattle Pacific University
I traveled to Indonesia during Summer 2009 as part of a SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout International) team. Through the John Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University, the University sends out student-led teams throughout the United States and world each year.
My SPRINT team worked with a group of Christians committed to sharing the Gospel by building friendships with Muslims. Our team’s presence in Indonesia allowed local Christian leaders to connect with Muslim islanders. Over time, the relationships built between our host and island residents through the vehicle of student missions groups like mine build trusting friendships through which the Gospel can be shared.
An expanding world and worldview
During my SPRINT trip, the world, as I knew it, turned upside down. I witnessed the hand of God at work, both in a predominantly Muslim culture and within my own heart. I stood in awe of the beauty of God’s creation: the beaches, the sunsets, and all of the people I met.
The islanders’ focus on community and relationships rather than time and productivity were both challenging and transforming for me. As our hosts built relationships with Muslim individuals on the islands, my concepts of belief, Christian faith, and evangelism were stretched. As anyone who has participated in mission trips, summer camp, or other intense times of connection with God’s work can attest, I felt my worldview, faith, and desire to serve God grow significantly during my time in the islands.
In my journal during the trip, I wrote, “The sky is so big here … there is not much to hinder your view, just wide-open space, both ocean and sky. When I am here, I don’t see any limit, any boundary, any place I cannot go.”
By summer’s end, saying goodbye to the sacred place where my life was forever changed proved to be harder than I anticipated. After the mountain-top experience of sharing in cross-cultural evangelism alongside the committed Christians in our host organization, I longed for a way to continue this work and prolong the feelings of awe I associated with the work of God I witnessed in Indonesia. Was it possible that I could feel as in-tune with God and his call on my life back in the United States?
Back home, but not back to life “as usual.”
After my trip, I spent much of the rest of the summer wrestling between resuming my daily, schedule-oriented life in our Western culture and questioning whether I was called to something more than life as I had lived it before my experience in Indonesia.
Taking the changes into the future
Having witnessed my hosts’ intense desire to share the love of Jesus, prompted by their love of the Indonesian people, I could not simply return to things as life had been, consumed with academic studies, work, Facebook, and “life as usual.” Was God calling me to return to Indonesia to invest myself in long-term ministry there? How could I use my eye-opening summer experience to bring meaning to the rest of my life?
Upon returning to SPU in the fall, I continued my journey by serving on SPRINT core, the student leadership team responsible for recruiting, training, and supporting students who will participate in SPRINT trips this summer. Working and serving in community with 11 other SPU students and staff who have a passion for service, relationships, and extending the love of Christ around the world has allowed me to find meaning in my own life back here in the States.
One of my responsibilities as a member of SPRINT core is to serve as an advocate and mentor for the team that will serve in Indonesia this summer. In this role, I will share insights and experiences from my 2009 trip, communicating my passion with a new group of students who are eager to hear and go.
As I equip them, I sense God ushering me into a new part of his kingdom. God is using my Indonesian experience right here at SPU to equip the next group of students whose lives he will transform there. My experience didn’t end with my trip. God continues to work in and through me as I share my stories with those who will come after me.
I am awestruck by the way God shook up my understanding through my Indonesia experience, then helped me begin to put back together the pieces. It has been humbling to come to the realization that not all the seasons of my life involve the doing and going that my heart longs for.
This season of my life is all about preparation. I must embrace the opportunities to learn, to grow, and to fall deeper in love with my Heavenly Father. Although a part of me will always be on the islands of Indonesia, God continues to remind me that my calling to love and serve people lives on. As I reflected on my Indonesian experience in my journal after the trip, “I want to be a product of everywhere I go — never settling completely, always yearning to do and see more, but being content and fully a part of the place I’m in.” My SPRINT trip is not yet over, and my hope is that it never will be.
Alyssa Singh is a sophomore majoring in nursing at Seattle Pacific University. She is from Clovis, California. SPU’s SPRINT short-term missions program consist of teams of three to 10 students, serving two to six weeks during academic breaks. On SPRINT trips, students serve with and learn from local leaders in communities across the globe. This summer SPRINT will send 50 students to nine countries, including Indonesia, Rwanda, and Guatemala.
|Learn more about The John Perkins Center by watching the video This is the John Perkins Center on iTunesU.|