Seeing God Move
Amy Nickerson | October 2017
“I keep coming back to camp because I fell in love with the ministry…. I fell in love with the whole process. I love the energy. I love getting a front-row seat to what God does.”
Lindy Grubbs and her husband, Matt, have been leading short-term teams to Slovenia, Serbia, and now Romania to help with Josiah Venture summer camps for almost a decade. Their church, Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon has been partnering with JV for even longer —around double that time.
Throughout the years, as they’ve worked with local churches in Central and Eastern Europe to put on evangelistic camps for teenagers, the Grubbs say they have seen God move in ways that keep them and their church wanting to come back.
God Moves in the Non-Believing Young People
One of the ways they see God move is in the lives of students they meet on their trips. Many of them are part of the 99% of young people in the region who don’t know Jesus, often hearing the message of the gospel for the first time at camp.
While Matt says he thinks the impact the team makes on these students “can be a little hard to judge, because we don’t see all the progress” he trusts that change is taking place. “We don’t want to send out teams that are a burden to the people who are there long-term or the local church…. We want to be doing something productive.”
Though they may not always see the fruit in the same way the locals get to, the couple and their team members have plenty of stories where they have gotten to see growth. Lindy speaks of one girl she met at camp in Slovenia, “I adore her. I knew her before she knew God. I knew her the year she decided to follow God. I followed up with her…. We’ve had a very good, consistent relationship over the years to the point where she recently invited me to her wedding. That’s kind of a big deal!”
Short-term teams, from the States, Canada, or the UK, are a huge part of making JV’s English, music, and sports camps possible. The relationships the team members make with young people provide opportunities for evangelism and open the door for non-believers to be forever changed by the hope and love of Christ. Every summer, we see this happen and so do our short-term teams.
God Moves in the Local Church
Matt and Lindy also say that they’ve seen God work in the local, European church teams they’ve partnered with to put on the camps. Part of the short-term teams’ job is to invest in those who are already believers and be a bridge between them and non-believing young people.
Although there can be a steep learning curve when it comes to teams from different cultures uniting to put on one camp, Matt thinks it’s fun and effective to work directly with a local church. “They know the culture obviously better than we do.”
Lindy agrees that “there’s something really neat about a church that’s small and very community oriented” like the one they’ve partnered with in Romania for the past two years. She says, “This year, the Romanians have taken on more responsibility…. And I think next year they’ll take on even more. That’s really what we want. We want them to be self-sustaining, not because we don’t like them and never want to come again. But if we are not making this a reproducible ministry than we aren’t really following JV’s model because everything JV does is reproducible…. It’s all about that indigenous empowerment.”
The short-term teams leave, but the local church stays and follows up with the students who come to camps. The encouragement and resources the local leaders gain from short-term teams in the summer help fuel their youth groups and ministries throughout the rest of the year. Plus, when a church team comes back for camps multiple years in a row, like Matt and Lindy’s, the relationships between believers end up being strong and mutually uplifting.
God Moves in the Team
Besides working in the lives of the Europeans, God also moves in big ways on the short-term teams and members go home different than when they came.
Matt explains, “This is a great ministry for challenging people; getting them out of their comfort zone. And we need that. We need people to be challenged to do more than just be average, megachurch, American Christians.”
Through taking young people out of their comfort zones into a foreign country and having a shared experience, Matt and Lindy have seen really deep bonds form between the group members. Matt describes the mission trip as a “touchstone moment” for team members saying, “It’s something that whenever we get together with them or when they get together with each other it’s just instant connection. I think it’s important to have those sorts of moments in your walk as a Christian. It’s just something to remind you of how good God is.”
Lindy says another impact on the team is that members end up seeing ministry differently —“a lot of them go into more intentional ministry at home.” God uses camps to change their hearts and give them a better understanding of the urgency of the gospel.
As Lindy has personally experienced and witnessed in others, “I get to see people respond to the gospel, and it draws me deeper into relationship with God, because I both see a greater need for Him in my life (because I’m more dependant on Him), but I’m also rejoicing because He loves me and others so much that He is unveiling eyes and softening hearts. Who wouldn’t want that experience?”
Want to bring your own short-term team and invest in the lives of young people here in Central and Eastern Europe? Matt says, “It’s going to be hard to find anything that does this much good for your people in such a short amount of time. It’s a great investment in your people and in God’s kingdom around the world. You’re doing both.” Let this be a warning though; you may just fall in love with how you see God move and want to keep coming back for years.
Watch this video to hear more stories about how God is moving in and through short-term teams. This time from Vertical Life Church (Dallas, Georgia) that has been serving in Slovakia for over 10 years.
You can also click here to find out more about how to get involved.