What I learned in Mississippi (finally!!)

John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less. Its funny, because the first week of this internship this verse was apart of my devotions, and I wrote in my journal (as you can go back and read at the beginning of this blog) that I really liked this verse, and that it might just become my summer verse…because thats what I really want..less of me..more of Him! The next thing that i notice is that the interns are asked to memorize a certain Bible verse each week…the verse for week three (last week) was..you guessed it…John 3:30! And then, oddly enough, Klint chose this verse to revolve our missions trip around. I guess the thing that stuck out to me is the cold, hard truth of this verse. I MUST become less. The context of this verse takes place as John the Baptist is baptizing people and at the same time, Jesus is baptizing people on the other side of that body of water. An argument developed between some people who were getting upset that a lot of the crowd was going over to Jesus to be baptized rather than to John. How can this be fair? John’s ministry was to baptize! But John says “no guys, I’m not the Christ..I’m sent before Him! Yes my ministry is to baptize people, but only to prepare them for Jesus…and Jesus is here! He has come and now His ministry must become center stage..and I must back off.” HE must become greater…I must become less! Its funny, this thought that just popped into my head…but sometimes as leaders of the church…dont we sometimes get so hyped up about our role in ministry, i do it the best way, it needs to be done like this, i’m so important to this church program, etc etc etc…that we forget that we must ALWAYS take the back seat and let GOD become greater, He must take center stage in all ministries. Its not about who leads it or what curriculum we use or which method is the best…Our ministry would be nothing without God. For after all, Its Gods ministry..not ours. He’s just using us as instruments. He must become greater (in our ministries, in the church, in the world), and WE must become less! Cuz really, its not about us! Which leads me to my next point…..

“It’s not about me.” This statement hit me hard the entire week. I know that it was the concept Klint wanted the youth to get…but I was challenged by it every day in Mississippi. I realized that it wasnt about me when my head was pounding from the chaos of a 19 hour van ride. I realized that it wasnt about me when sweat was dripping off my face in the hot Mississippi sun. I realized that it wasnt about me when we could only take 2 minute showers at the local YMCA. I realized it wasnt about me when the leaders have preparation instead of free time like the kids. I realized that in missions, its not about what I want, but what God wants…and about the ones we are serving. Its hard to explain..but try living with this phrase as your main concept for a week…you’ll begin to know what i mean.

Concepts of dating and the opposite sex in middle school. With the 5 hour couple on my van ride down, and the chaos of girls preparing for the supper the boys made (see my previous post)…i began to remember the concept of boys in junior high. The “nice” ones seemed like aliens! The “norm” was a jerky guy who, OF COURSE, liked more than one girl at a time! But remembering this concept of JH helped assure me that we dont live in that stage forever. The “norm” at my age still may contain a majority of jerks, but the “nice” species of men are beginning to gain in numbers. I realize how temporary that time in life is…and as I encouraged girls to wait for a guy who loved them for who they really are and who loved God and respected them…I reminded myself of those very same facts.

God protected us. From having the exact number of van drivers needed to drive the 19 hour trip in one straight shot, to all of the work we did each day, to the 3 men with a gun incident, and everything else…I was reminded that God is protecting us each day…way more than we probably ever realize. And for all of the things that God has spared me from…I am thankful. 

Used as a blessing. Although at times it didnt seem as if we were really doing much by just painting trim on a house and repairing a fence, the other leaders assured me that we blessed the Chaimberlains more than I would probably ever know. Knowing that God uses us beyond what we can see is an incredible thought. Its encouraging to know that even when we feel like we haven’t done enough, God uses what we have given and multiplies it beyond comprehension.

He has brought me so far! I remember my awkward junior high years…i dont even know how I survived them..but thankfully I did! I see myself in so many of those girls, and I hope that i can stay around to see them graduate high school and see the person they develop into. I can’t wait to see some of those girls really “get it”…its amazing how far I’ve come since that age, and I cant wait to see them at my age as well.

The power of words.   Junior High is the most viscious time of life…words fly high and words fly low and a lot of those words shoot straight at the heart. People, not just junior highers, can be so brutally rude to others in what they say…to their face and behind their backs. James 3:1-12 talks about taming the tongue…and I think its time that we, as adults, set the example as we realize what power we have in words!

Invest time into their lives.   This goes back to wanting to see these girls graduate someday and see where they are at that age…but without spiritual influences along the way, so many kids will get caught up into other worldly distractions and miss the mark on the life God intended for them. But this principle doesnt just apply to teenagers…it applies to us all. Its up to us to invest our time into the lives of others. To hold each other accountable, look out for one another’s best interest, to challenge each other to run in the right direction. Because if we are all alone in this thing called life…we’re all bound to get off the track at one point or another.

Every crisis in life seemed earth-shattering . Little things are big things to junior highers. Not a bad thing, just a plain fact about that stage of life. Enough said.

Unwholesome talk.   With a lot of fighting that happened on the trip towards one another, Klint began to implement Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” It’s amazing how many times that verse can apply. Gossip, lying, swearing, rude comments, degrading comments, etc.

There ARE gentlemen out there. When i saw the boys serving us at the dinner table, I was reminded that, even though they were asked to do this nice gesture, there ARE guys out there who really do that for a woman they care about, not because they were asked, but because they want to show her respect..and i think that’s awesome!

Ailene Banks. I am so glad that Ailene went on the trip. I never thought that I could learn so much from the example of one woman in such a short amount of time. Ailene Banks is one of the most Godly women I’ve ever known. Kelsey and I learned so much from her….

She taught me so much about life, love, leadership, parenting, and being a wife . This is pretty much self explanitory…In all of her stories of her relationships with her kids and her husband, and watching her relate to her two kids on the trip, as well as the other teens, I really learned what it meant to be a Godly woman…besides what I’ve learned from my mom as I’ve grown up…it was awesome to have this perspective from leader to leader.

“Vengence is mine, says the Lord.” Ailene was talking about one boy on our trip who was wanting to get revenge on another boy on the trip…and she told me that she talked to him and told him that God says “Vengence is MINE, says the Lord.” She went on to explain that when we, as humans, get revenge…it is done in anger and hurt. But when we’ve sinned against God and he takes “revenge,” He isnt doing in out of hate or anger….but out of love to teach us. When God gets “revenge,” He makes a gash in our lives as he cuts out the sin that he so passionately hates. It flips our world upside down and from that scarring, we heal and grow to be more like Him. When he takes revenge, he does it to restore us…not to hurt us even more, or out of anger or hatred. He does it out of love.

The importance of knowing scripture in life. This was probably the biggest thing that hit me during the week. This was another lesson I learned from Mrs. Banks in Mississippi. I noticed how uplifting she was when she disciplined kids, and how wise she was when she talked to her kids on the trip…so I asked her how she could do that. She shared that, especially in leadership and parenting, knowing the scripture is vital because instead of reprimanding in her own power, using scripture relay’s Gods thoughts on the matter. As in the “unwholesome talk” issue, instead of constantly harping on the kids to talk kind to one another, you can simply bring up Ephesians 4:29 that states God’s thoughts on the matter. Scriptures can be used in this way in leadership and in parenting. But beyond that, it is so full of wisdom and advice…it truely is the guidebook for life. Whether its parenting, leadership, love, relationships, church matters, disputes…the Bible talks about them all! Actually memorizing the scriptures gives a person such a huge advantage to be able to advise, discipline, counsel, mentor…because we dont always have a Bible on hand. But having His Word actually written on our hearts makes it easy to quote verse after verse. And best of all, memorizing the scriptures helps us individually when we are put in a hard spot and we need to make decisions…knowing Gods Word can help make those decisions easy!

Parenting styles & leadership styles. I saw both uplifting, encouraging, Godly styles of both, as well as harsh, rude, and demanding styles of both. I choose to stick to the scriptures and uplift kids rather than be harsh.

Challenged kids. I really gained a compassion for those kids who are so desperately wanting to fit in, but have challenges that sometimes interfere with that acceptance. A few of our kids had attention-related challenges that caused them to be over-active…but I really began to learn how to focus them on one thing in order to settle them down, as well as to show them compassion…and that was a big thing for me.

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