Lizzie Standring tells us the whats, wheres and whys of her short-term mission trip.
I went to The Gambia on the west coast of Africa from January to May 2018 as part of a Crosslinks gap year team. I taught English and Christian Studies at a lovely Christian primary school, helped out with a children's club and youth group at a local church and did outreach in the local slum community.
Before I went, I thought teaching would be a lot easier than I actually found it! However, over time I came to love it and at the end of the trip I found saying goodbye really hard.
I had expected to find talking to Muslims about Jesus really challenging and scary - 90% of the population of The Gambia are Muslim. I felt that I didn't know enough about Islam to talk to people about Christ. But, during a mission week with the local university Christian Union, I had incredible chats with five Muslim girls. I learnt so much more about Islam from them and got so excited telling them about Jesus. My expectations were turned upside down!
Before the trip I hadn’t wanted to share my faith or be bold at school. Although I still struggle with this, spending four months getting to grips with God’s word for myself and sharing it with others has hugely encouraged me in my faith. Being far from home forced me to depend on the Lord. I've learnt to pray more about things I'm worried about, rather than taking them straight to my mum.
It has given me much more of a service mindset and I now want to prioritise telling other people about Jesus. It's great that mission can happen wherever you are and so I'm thinking about how I can evangelise when I go to university in September.
Do it! There will be some tough times but it is an absolute joy to serve in a new culture, to learn and grow in so many ways. It was so precious to have the time to get stuck into God’s word and be reminded of incredible truths and how unchanging our Heavenly Father is. Doing a gap year with Crosslinks has given me a genuine excitement to tell others about Jesus which I didn't have before. I also got to have lots of fun adventures! We went on an epic four day boat trip, visited crocodile parks, went camel riding, slept in tree houses and day-tripped into Senegal. All this as well as being taught from God’s word alongside like-minded people - it's a no brainer!
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