Sand Springs DNOW 2015

Two of the luxuries of having DNOWs with churches we are familiar with are as follows: we have already formed relationships with the students, and we get to see them progress over the years. Our energy isn’t spent so much on forming relationships as it is on building on top of them. But in the case of this past weekend, with a new church and an unknown youth group, we threw all our passion into quickly forming Christ-like friendships.

It’s actually quite strange that we haven’t worked with Sand Springs Baptist Church before this weekend. Only a couple minutes down the road from Focus Pointe Base Camp, their church is nestled comfortably within the community Glowing Heart has been reaching out to for years. And after the friend requests I received from the students on Facebook, I quickly noticed that they had mutual friends with people that are involved with either PaceSetters or other DNOWs. Sand Springs was hiding in plain sight, but now we know them.

Friday afternoon, the van pulled up to Focus Pointe, and students poured out, standing a little awkwardly to the side. So that’s when we stepped in. Instantly, GH members were greeting the students, learning names, and making connections that would become the foundations for further conversations in sessions and free time. I can’t speak for the girls, but for the guys we were already onto favorite Marvel movies and talking about Christian rap. Within a few minutes, the atmosphere felt comfortable, loving, and united in a way that only the Holy Spirit provides among fellow believers.

The weekend ended up being one of the best “first DNOWs” Glowing Heart has had, and there are a few reasons why.

 

  • It was Disciple-NOW, not Salvation-NOW. Don’t get me wrong, we love to see people come to a saving faith in Christ at DNOW weekends, and it’s one of the greatest fruits of our labors. Sometimes I will come to a youth group and think, “These students just need Jesus!” But the students this past weekend do have Jesus. They just need discipleship. It is just as important to see ten students grow deeper in their faith as it is to see twenty students come to faith. The call to sanctification is just as important as the call to regeneration. This was the only DNOW I can remember where there were no professions of faith the entire weekend, but I wasn’t worried, because in a way the weekend was more like: “I have faith, now what?” And Glowing Heart had the blessing of being able to show what faith does.
  • It was family. Sometimes GH has to break down some walls within a group to be able to do any lasting work. But this weekend felt more like a family reunion where you meet cousins you didn’t know you had. It was a sweet surprise and a warming of the heart to be with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a smooth weekend mainly because we were found under the banner of Christ. The Gospel does many things, but one thing I have seen over and over again with Glowing Heart, and especially at this DNOW, was how the Gospel unites.

 

Our DNOW material this year is focused on preparing for battle against the Enemy, Satan and his minions, and encouraging the students to stand firm because the war has been won. In the end, Sand Springs DNOW was a military training camp in preparation for battle, instead of a plea for those to join the army. I met many new comrades in the Lord’s army, and I can’t wait to see them again.

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Support Glowing Heart – Special Edition

Dear Glowing Heart Family and Friends,

Over the last 28 years Glowing Heart Ministries has traveled over one million miles through 15 countries and many states. During our travels we have ministered to and along side hundreds of thousands of people. We have witnessed over ten thousand confess their love and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This last year we had almost 100 high school students come through our after school CoffeeStop each day. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Today we find ourselves in a world desperately needing an increased Christian witness to the young generation, not only in our own nation, but also in the nations of the world.

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However, GHM also finds ourselves with a new challenge. Not a political challenge. Not a moral challenge. Not a lack of opportunity, nor of personnel. We face a financial challenge which affects each current GH member.

Since very early in our history, GHM has been able to provide scholarships to each of its members as a meaningful and often necessary financial support for their commitment and time. Since 2006 we have been blessed through a particular foundation which has given $30,000.00 per year for this purpose. Due to the financial woes of our US oil industry, this foundation has had to cut the grants which they have supported for this upcoming year and the foreseeable future. They are saddened and have been a friend to Glowing Heart for many years.

When I received this news, it came with a commitment from the president of that organization to donate personally toward our scholarship need. I then reached out to former Glowing Heart members and have received pledges for $8,400.00. Now, I am reaching out to you.

We still need to raise $21,600.00 for these well deserving Glowing Heart members. There are several ways you can give. You can set up a monthly donation marked “Scholarship” through your bank or PayPal. You can give a one-time gift marked the same and sent to Glowing Heart Ministries, PO BOX 542511, Grand Prairie, TX 75054. You can donate through the www.glowingheart.org website. And you can pray. Really pray, that God will bless those who are serving Him so diligently with continued scholarship money. Please, no gift is too small.

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If you have any questions, please contact me at 214.354.8794 or henry@glowingheart.org. Thank you!

– Henry Loftin

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PaceSetters – High School Week

My first “taste” of PaceSetters was last summer, when I visited the camp for the day. And even before my first full PaceSetters experience, I was at Winter Reunion in January. Both times I came back feeling refreshed and at peace, mainly just from being around the people there. Let me just start off by saying: I get extremely exhausted around people. I love people, don’t get me wrong, but I need a lot of moments where I can slip away and read a book or be still. So it’s rare for me to find a group of people where I feel relaxed. But that’s what I have found even in my limited experience of PaceSetters.

Being in Glowing Heart feels much more like being in a family. The members are more like (and sometimes literally) siblings, to the point where I’m very comfortable around them with no need to try to impress anybody to be accepted. Even meeting former GH members is like finding out you’re related to someone. There’s a group on Facebook for past and present GH members called “Glowing Heart Family,” and it’s true. But one part of the family I was missing out on was the PaceSetters Family. And this past week at camp, I truly started to feel the power of God’s family through this group of students. Being instantly welcomed and gladly meeting new people was a great experience and one that has been totally unique to this group.

I’ve been to leadership camps before. I have gained great friendships and learned so much from those camps. But there is something entirely different about the connections made at PaceSetters. The people make all the difference.

One of the greatest features of PaceSetters is the “Personal Assignment Time,” or PAT. Twice a day, the students have one hour sessions to spend in the midst of God’s creation and personally get closer to or hear the will of God. That time is spent in a variety of ways, whether reading the camp material, studying the Bible, or praying. But the goal is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s the break in the busy schedule to take a deep breath and refocus on glorifying God. It’s puts the students in the right mindset, but not merely for their mindset’s sake, because the verse continues: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” And that’s where the service projects come in.

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After dwelling on who God is, our purpose isn’t to keep it to ourselves, but to go out and share it with others. Whether it was visiting nursing homes or doing manual labor around homes and businesses, our goal was to show that God is the God of Purpose. Oft-neglected elderly people were rejuvenated by the warm smiles and conversations of the students, and yards and buildings were brought back to their right order. And though it is easy to take the praise of those we helped, Glowing Heart is always reminded of Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your Name be all the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.”

PaceSetters is a family, a community of believers, whose goal and purpose is to know God and to serve Him. That alone was most clear. I am blessed to see that in action and to finally be a part of it.

To Him be the glory! Amen.

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PaceSetters – Middle School Week

I’ll never forget my first week of Pacesetters. Two busloads of middle schoolers rolled into the camp on that Monday afternoon and it was “go time.” We got everybody situated into the right cabins, into the right groups, and into the right attitude of excitement for the week. And boy, did it start off right.

For Middle School Week, it is the Glowing Heart members that bring the message during the evening services, and it tapped right into the hearts of those pre-teens and early teenagers. When I think back on my mindset as a middle schooler, I wasn’t preoccupied by apologetics or doctrines of faith. It didn’t matter to me how many ancient biblical manuscripts have been uncovered or how our moral laws point toward an intelligent Creator. What I cared about was how to simply live like a Christian. And by having younger brothers and by looking at the younger portion of the youth group, I see the same questions. Despite the mix of puberty, hormones, and intense peer pressure, middle school Christians have proven to be rather bold for their faith. And this group was there.

Our electric guitarist, Bobby, spoke passionately on how God has created us with a purpose, with a destiny. Our acoustic guitarist, Mikaela, reminded the middle schoolers of Jesus as the Healer, and how to live a life freely. And I got to speak on how the Gospel is meant to be worked outwardly towards God and others. Each of those messages added a layer to the week, as the students studied, worked, and fellowshipped with purpose, freedom, and selflessness. It showed through their group sessions, in their service projects, and in their rec time. These students were striving to be like Christ.

I was amazed to see the middle school students step it up. They were given the same reading material as the high schoolers, the same discussion questions, and service projects. It was an almost identical schedule of the high school week, and yet the middle schoolers kept up and, in some cases, pushed the pace. We cleaned up tornado-torn towns and tackled subjects like judgement in the afterlife. It was absolutely amazing, and I was so proud to see the rising generation on fire for a Christianity worth living and dying for. It gave me hope.

In the end, it was a wonderful week, with a lot of great memories, from bug swatting to learning about “da Holy Jesus,” and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Pray for this generation. God has something planned.

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Prepare for the Work of the Lord

It’s Pacesetters time! And Pacesetters time means Prep Week time. Glowing Heart and the other leaders loaded up into the van, cars, and trucks on Monday morning and headed for Focus Pointe Base Camp in Alba, Texas for a week of hard work, fellowship, and preparation for camp. Everyone had brought clothes for working, props for tables, and a good attitude to match. It felt like it had been forever since I had last seen my GH friends, and even longer since I had been out to the camp.

Last time we had been out there for Winter Music Camp, I mentioned that there is something special about the dirt road that leads into the camp. And it’s true. My favorite part of the trip is the last few minutes as we pull in. The atmosphere feels different, I feel different, and it primes us for the next week at camp.

Once we got there, it didn’t take long for us to get to work. After unloading our luggage, we were out there in no time with gloves and bug spray to tackle the unkempt forest. We did everything from “bug bombing” the cabins to taking down dead trees. We burned many fallen branches and had a hilarious (though not at the time) “man vs. ant” experience as we tried to throw the same ant-ridden log into the fire…multiple times. After a few days, and many hours of hard work, the cabins and outdoors were now “Pacesetters ready.”

Inside the worship center a transformation was taking place. We turned those four walls and stage into the World of Narnia and the Narnian ship, the Dawn Treader, complete with a large dragon painting and rope. The team tables were set up, from the underwater world of the Mer-people to the star-filled skies, and everything in-between. It was all coming together, and the next coming weeks were becoming very real. At anytime you could see either someone dressed up as a lion, or a large nest for Firebirds, or even a gigantic storybook that related the events of Reepicheep the Valiant Mouse. It was magical.

And even though it was important to prepare the campgrounds and to transform the worship center, what was most important was the preparation and transformation of our hearts. Through prayer and study, all the leaders were softening their hearts for the coming and continuing work of the Lord. All the students were prayed for by name, and the camp material was studied diligently. It doesn’t matter how clean the campgrounds are, or how magical the worship center looks, if our hearts and minds are not aligned with the will of God, and we are not consecrating ourselves to the Lord’s service, then all our work has been in vain. Prep week isn’t just about preparing the camp, it’s about preparing ourselves for the work God is already doing and about to do at Pacesetters. And if that’s the goal of Prep Week, then get ready for Pacesetters, because God is about to do some amazing things in the lives of everyone involved.

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Christ in the Community

This past weekend was our last DNOW event of the year, with the Glowing Heart 2014-2015 team. We piled into the GH vans and drove all the way to Floresville, Texas for a wonderful weekend that really added some great closure for the year. Oak Hills Community Church was truly impacted by the Holy Spirit this past weekend, but God taught me a lot during a time when I wasn’t discipling students or preaching on stage. God used the time that we went out into the community to spend time at nursing homes and veterans homes to teach me about His crowning jewel of creation: mankind.

The youth group divided into two groups, one group was the girls, the other group the guys. While the girls went to a nursing home to add some decorations and talk to people, the guys went to a veterans home to do the same thing. And for the entire time I was there, I only talked to one man, and his name was Bob. He was sitting comfortably in his wheelchair, watching a basketball game on tv, while proudly holding a box of snacks such as Oreos and Goldfish (he won them during a Bingo game earlier that day). I introduced myself and we started talking. I learned so much about his life, from his time in the service, where he was only in the Army for three years (1958-61), though he never left the country, to his family life and later career, which he described as “doing a little bit of everything.” He told me about his passion for music, which led him to join the Naval Academy of Music (since they didn’t have an Army band at that time) and how he played in bands and venues all across the country, in and out of his military service. Ironically, he told me about his affiliation with the Church of Christ, and we laughed about how funny it was that he’d go to a church without musical instruments, even though he had a strong passion and career in playing them! Overall, we talked a lot about music and family, and how he liked the veterans home, and how his wife was doing, and all of that. By the end of the time we had at the veterans home, I didn’t want to leave, and I still had so many questions. I had made a connection with this man, and I didn’t want to lose it. I looked around the room and I saw the young guys we brought with us, and saw that many of them had made similar connections with the other men. Oak Hills Community Church has “community” in the name, and for a very good reason: they are there to impact the community in a Christ-like way.

Jesus spent a lot of His earthly ministry with the fringes of His community, from the “sinful sinners” to the blind and decrepit, and He did it out of love. His love isn’t just for the religious and middle class. His love isn’t only for the privileged and the well-known. His love is for all people, for the forgotten and lonely, for the people who are proud to have won Oreos at Bingo, for the ones that our own culture pushes to the side and sadly mishandles. If there’s one thing I learned while at Oak Hills this past weekend, it was that God has called us to a ministry of remembering the forgotten, loving the unloved, and listening to the ones that still have their stories to tell. Oak Hills Community Church was the perfect example of how to reach those people, how to work in a community, and how to be Christ to those who may still need Him, sitting quietly in a nursing home.

Remember those people, and think about ways you can impact the community around you for Christ. There are plenty of hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, and homeless shelters that need the light of Christ to shine on.

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Sleeping on the Job

“I know that drifting is a deeper threat than betrayal.

No one has to convince you to abandon anything,

You just inevitably end up downstream,

Maintain your pride and wonder why the world keeps on shifting,

Convinced you’re still standing in the same place.

You never mean to drift away.”

— “Chapter Eight: White Whales Like Black Plagues” by Levi the Poet

I keep drifting away. I keep finding myself in places I know I shouldn’t be. I keep “following my heart,” which only leads me astray. Every time I take one step forward, I get scared and become apathetic to everything, especially to the things of God. Now I’m three steps back from where I started, and I just don’t have the energy to face the climb. If you read my blog consistently, you’ve probably realized that this is not new to me. I do good for a few weeks, then fall miserably the next. It’s a torturous cycle. It’s not intentional, though. It’s only when I get distracted, when I forget to rely on God day after day, when I put on my mask to hide my insecurities, instead of handling them in the light of Christ’s love and mercy. It’s when I get too caught up in the moment of the crashing waves, that I mindlessly move farther away from the safety of my Father’s shores. I never mean to drift away.

When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray, Jesus’s “face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29 ESV). And in miraculous display, Moses and Elijah appeared, so they could discuss with Jesus about His mission on the earth. And what were the disciples doing during all of this? Well, exactly what they do best: sleeping. While Jesus was engaging with others about His mission, his own disciples were sleeping on the job. They were missing out on what Jesus was doing, they were not being informed about what was to be done on Calvary. God in the Flesh was talking to two “rock stars” of the Hebrew Bible about the ultimate salvation of man, and the disciples missed it because they were napping. They didn’t mean to drift to sleep, the disciples weren’t doing it because they despised the Lord. This is the “in-crowd” of Jesus’s closest friends we’re talking about here. They love Him and know Him intimately. They just weren’t being proactive in Christ’s ministry at that time.

Only after the conversation is over, and Moses and Elijah are leaving, do the disciples wake up and realize what they missed. Peter (Good ol’ Peter. Gotta love him!) says, “Wait, wait, wait, don’t leave just yet. It’s good that we (the disciples) are here! John, and James, and I can pitch some tents, and everyone can stay” (Paraphrase). But Peter had missed his opportunity to spend time with Moses and Elijah, and with the transfigured Christ. The Bible is very clear that Peter didn’t even know what he was saying (v. 33). He was a few steps behind the mission of God, instead of in the midst of His work, because of his inactive decision to take a nap when Jesus was still working.

We can give Peter a hard time, because he was physically there with Jesus, but we do the exact same thing all the time. We sleep on the job, we forget to do our quiet time, we’re too exhausted or distracted to engage with the culture about the Gospel, and we have excuse upon excuse as to why we’re falling behind. And when we realize that we’ve drifted away or fallen asleep, we try to play catch-up and make up for what we missed. We say, “Wait, wait, wait. It’s good that we’re here. Let’s stay a little bit longer, because I missed out.” But the time has come and gone, and God is already moving on to the next step in His plan. I begin to contemplate all the ministry opportunities I’ve missed out on, all the lives that could’ve been impacted for Christ, and all the things God could’ve taught me, had I not been sleeping on the job, and it’s scary how much I’ve really missed. I begin to worry if God is going to keep me out of what He’s about to do next, but there’s hope.

Back on the mountain, a cloud covered the area and God’s voice said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (v. 35). The cloud went away, and Jesus was alone. Moses and Elijah were gone, but Jesus was still there. Realizing that we missed out on part of God’s mission doesn’t mean the end for us. It just means that we need to listen to Christ alone.

Listen. He still has something to say to you.

Alone. He should be the only one you hear.

“There is no responsibilty on you for the work; the only responsibilty you have is to keep living in constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him.” – Oswald Chambers

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The Harvest is Everywhere

In a strip mall, right across the street from my elementary school, is a church uniquely named The Dwelling Place. The church doesn’t boast a large campus made of many buildings, doesn’t have a mass following of congregants that require six Easter services, or even have their sermon podcasts topping the iTunes charts every week. But what it does have is something far more valuable: disciplers.

Glowing Heart had the lovely opportunity to lead a Disciple-NOW weekend close to home. The Dwelling Place is in the middle of the setting for a lot of my childhood memories, down the street from the park where many of us play Ultimate Frisbee, and around the corner from my own home church. And sometimes, especially when I’ve only been a member of one church, it’s easy to forget that there are other hard-working laborers striving to see the Gospel preached, taught, and lived out in my home town. Jesus was right (whowouldathought?) when he said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37, NIV). The harvest is plentiful, and the harvest is far reaching and all around us. It doesn’t take an international mission trip to witness the sin and hurt that people experience all around the world. Just look to your neighbors. We are surrounded by a lost people that are aching for the Love that surpasses all understanding, that need to feel the relief of grace and forgiveness, and desire the confidence they can have in the righteousness of God. They just need servants of Christ Jesus to point them in the right direction.

The congregation of The Dwelling Place has taken that call seriously, and have taken the necessary steps to reach out into the community around them. I met students from a wide variety of backgrounds, even though most of them still live within Arlington city limits. And investing into those students was a group of youth workers unlike what I’ve seen in most churches, big or small, that their sole mission was to love them and share Christ the Living Hope with each and every one of them. They were genuinely and effectively discipling the youth of the surrounding community. They had insight and wisdom into the students lives that went far beyond the walls of the church. These youth workers were spending their own time, money, and spiritual food to see the growth of salvation in their “harvest,” and by God, they are seeing their reward.

    God worked in amazing ways this weekend, bringing His children closer to Himself, redeeming lost souls, or just resetting that fire in their hearts to desire Him. But it wasn’t without the faithful acts of the youth workers, who have worked tirelessly and will continue to do so after we left. Remember to be thankful for the workers God has called in your church, and even you may decide that God wants you to be a better steward of the harvest He has put you in the middle of. Just be faithful to answer the call.

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Forward Benefit Concert

God provided for Glowing Heart at the second annual Forward Benefit Concert, not only through financial support, but through familial support, prayer support, and the support of encouraging Christians who have either impacted Glowing Heart, or was impacted by Glowing Heart.

We held the concert at the beautiful White’s Chapel in Southlake, Tx. The building itself brings a sense of awe and grand worship to our King, but the staff was an even greater testimony to the work of God through Glowing Heart. Apparently (and unbeknownst to me), White’s Chapel has the most previous-Glowing Heart members on staff and as members. Their love and understanding of what Glowing Heart is all about was astounding and humbling. It was amazing for me to see the heritage and history of Glowing Heart, from years past to years present, on one stage. God has worked and impacted people through Glowing Heart for years.

The emphasis of the Forward Benefit Concert was a fundraising push, so we had some different ways for people to donate. From purchasing the tickets, to bidding in our auction, to just making the decision to either donate a one-time gift, or become a monthly financial supporter, we had people engaged in all of those ways. Not a single item was left at the auction, and people were being very gracious to a ministry that means so much to them, either because they were changed at a Glowing Heart concert, they were a Glowing Heart member themselves, or they have family or friends that were or are Glowing Heart members.

In the end, the Forward Benefit Concert was a great way to raise money and prayer support, but it was also a great way for the Glowing Heart community to gather, worship, and share testimony after testimony of how God changed their life through Glowing Heart.

 

Posted in Blogs, Forward 2015

Friends in a Foreign Land – Part 2

For a large portion of the Scotland trip, we stayed in Uddingston, home of the Tunnock’s Factory and their wonderful tea cakes (I made a few visits to the Tunnock’s shop myself, for a helping of sweets). While there, we partnered with a local church congregation and staff, which served us out of the love in their hearts more than we asked or imagined. Coffee and tea was offered at every moment, their conversations were comforting and showed investment in who we are as people and as a ministry. I felt welcomed and relaxed while I was there.

On Sunday, Glowing Heart split into a couple groups and led Sunday morning worship, preached, and gave testimonies at different churches. It was a unique experience for us, because in some ways it required each of us to step up to a leadership role that we weren’t quite used to yet. We led multiple services throughout the day, in different venues, and to different people, and after every single event, I had someone out of the congregation come and tell me how blessed they were to have us there. Now before we had left for the trip, we were warned that some churches may not like American missionaries, based on previous burn-out experiences, so the key was to be humble and make the gospel in love our focus. To hear people say how blessed they felt and how they wished we could stay longer was in turn a huge blessing to me. I was starting to realize how much of an impact and breath of fresh air we were bringing to these churches, and how God was using us to not just encourage the church, but to show through servant-leadership how the gospel does change lives.

Throughout the week we continued to do a variety of services and helped in a number of unique ministries. I had the opportunity to go to one of the highest security prisons in Scotland, drink tea and have God-filled conversations with the prisoners there. I was able to witness how God truly gives hope to those in seemingly hopeless situations, and learn that everyone has gifts that can be used to glorify God, even within prison walls. I met a prisoner who is now an award-winning painter, and I watched as a man played Mozart perfectly by ear, without even knowing it was Mozart. And they were all brought together under the grace of God.

We also worked with the Glasgow City Mission, a food bank and a ministry to the homeless. Helping in ways such as cleaning kitchens, moving tables, welcoming people, doing a Christ-focused skit, and even just talking to people gave a great variety to our ministry. Glowing Heart plays music and sings, but our ministry is focused on sharing the gospel with others and being Christ-like servants in all aspects of our lives. It gave me a clearer understanding of my purpose.

For the last leg of our trip, we went back to Linlithgow, engaged with the youth at St. John’s Evangelical Church, and prepared to do a youth weekend retreat in Arbroath. This is what we’re good at. It’s basically what we do for every DNOW weekend, and it felt nice to get into a familiar groove of going into a room filled with youth and having to make connections over a weekend and leave a clear impression of Christ. It was relaxing. I felt like I was at home doing a DNOW instead of being on an international mission trip for the first time. It was during that time that I felt we were making the most lasting impact of the trip. I came home to a flood of Facebook friend requests from all the students I had conversations with that weekend, and I felt connected with them, even across borders.

That Sunday, we left from Arbroath at 4am and headed home. It was exhausting and exciting, but God showed me that people are foundationally the same across all cultures, and that the gospel is for everyone in the world, and not only found in American churches. I learned that God is not just bigger than me, my church, Texas, America, and Scotland, but that even the world is in the palm of His hand.

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