“It doesn’t take people with special skill sets to be obedient and serve the Lord,” said Will Noll, “it just takes people willing to go and do something for God. He takes care of the details.” Will knows this firsthand from his experiences over the last three years.
In 2012, Noll consistently attended The Porch on Tuesday nights. It was there that he and his friend, Gordon Burgett, first heard about an opportunity to join a mission-oriented discipleship group. The group’s plan was to study the Bible together for 12-14 months and then serve for a week in Albania through Cru, a college missions organization.
“I initially had reservations about the discipleship group because of the time commitment. But something kept telling me to get involved, even if I did not end up going on the trip. No matter what, I would grow in godliness and the spiritual disciplines. As the trip got closer, felt called to go, even while not really knowing what to expect. God did so much to my heart the first time we went to Albania.”
The discipleship group ended in 2013, but Will’s and Gordon’s desire to go back to Albania did not. Gordon is now doing a STINT (a one-year, overseas discipleship trip) with Cru and is living there fulltime while Will has led an expanding group of young adults on short-term discipleship trips to Albania during the past three summers.
“The trip was a catapult into further leadership opportunities in the church and a much deeper and devoted walk with the Lord. Seeing the amazing things that were happening in the camp in Albania and knowing that God used our team to do them was the first time I started to feel we were involved in a greater movement. Since then, God has completely provided for us and the team every step of the way, even when I don’t trust Him,” says Will.
“We were so excited and amazed by what God accomplished there in 2013 that we wanted to come back. We were also challenged by our Albanian leadership team to take 10 people the next year. We had multiple gatherings in which we told people about the Albania trip and what God did there…Those meetings were the final catalyst for many to join the team which resulted in us going over there with 10 people.”
Lucy Chang was part of the larger group that served in Albania in 2014. Like Will and Gordon, she first heard about the chance to go to Albania at The Porch. The first year Lucy joined them, she went as a regular participant. In 2015 she took on a leadership role as the group increased to a team of 20 volunteers. In 2016 Lucy helped lead a team of 22 in Albania. “I’d been involved heavily in the Porch and had gone overseas before,” said Lucy, “but this was the first time I felt a steadfast love and commitment to the same place far away from me – so much that this was my third summer to go to Albania! It’s not always easy taking a large group overseas – equipping and caring for the team, raising funds, taking time off – just trying to make it all work. But there is a sense of commitment to something larger than myself, and that’s to bring the gospel to our Albanian friends. I really don’t know where else I’d go or a better use of my time during the summer!”
Though these discipleship trips continually grow, they originally started with a small idea and a few people who were willing to be obedient to God.
“For me,” said Noll, “it had to be a one foot in front of the other, one day at a time thing. Because absolutely it can get overwhelming. One of the biggest things God showed me was that I struggle with trying to control outcomes. Through this ministry, God has totally wrestled that from my fingers.
“Through the obedience of a few people, God has done great things in Albania. Whenever we make this ministry about ourselves, it doesn’t go anywhere. Whenever we make it about God’s glory so that more people may know Him, that’s when God has done incredible things.” Although Lucy has a heart to serve in Albania, she knows that is not the case for everyone. “You can do ministry wherever you want. Grab your community group or a group of great friends who all love Jesus, put your heads together, work hard, find leaders, and then go to it. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing.
“I would also say,” added Lucy, “serve with people you genuinely enjoy because: why not? It will be more fun. We are ministers of the gospel wherever we are. People often serve in capacities on top of their typical 8 to 5 jobs, so if you’re going to spend all this extra time doing something, do it for the Lord, and do it with people you love!” — Written by Lauren Zutavern
If you are interested in exploring opportunities to serve overseas with Watermark, CRU or other ministry organizations, go to watermark.org/international for more information. Photo credit: Ron Acord at www.ronacord.com. Published with permission.