Ryan Hoagland / July 2, 2017 / EA trip update

Good Morning Family

I want to start by thanking you for your prayers and support that fueled our time in EA these past 4 weeks. As you may already know I had the privilege to Lead a group of 6 other students involved in COMission, the student lead organization at USF Saint Pete. Aaron, John, Tori, Hannah, Ry Lynn, Danielle and I spent many hours walking through college campuses, praying that God would reveal who we were to share the wonderful news of Jesus with. My goal in this short time is to give you a glimpse of what God is doing to bring every nation and every people group together in gladness through faith in Christ for His glory.

In EA we spend our time walking through a college campus, finding english speaking students and inviting them to dinner or to hangout outside of school so we can get to know them and share the gospel with them. However, once in a while, even after walking and praying for hours, you don’t find anyone who is free to meet up that night. To display what this trip was like, I want to share a story of one of those nights.

Danielle, Tori, and I we were not able to make any plans with students, so we were walking to dinner alone.

This time can almost feel like a walk of shame. We are in a foreign land with the purpose of sharing Gods story with college students, but tonight we couldn’t. That entire day we had been on our college campus struggling to find students that could speak English well enough that they could understand the great news we had for them, and we were disappointed that we hadn’t found any. As we walk up to the menu board I noticed two college-aged men in the restaurant.

We were reminded of God’s sovereignty and goodness in what happened next. Immediately one of the students hopped out of his chair and helped us order food. The other student was waving his hands, kindly offering to the three of us to join them at the table. Both students, named Brad and Kate (English names), are freshman English majors and spoke english very well. After spending time getting to know them, we shared the story of the paralytic man when the mans friends carry him on to the roof and after removing a portion of the roof they lowered the man in front of Jesus and he was healed. We told them how Jesus also said that his sins were forgiven. Kate and Brad said that they never heard a story from the Bible told like this and that they wanted to hear more about Jesus at another time. Being English majors, they had experience with the Bible and knew some stories, but never heard a story told with passion that highlighted Jesus’ power and compassion for his people.

John and I met with Brad and Kate another night to talk about who God is. Both students believed that even if there was a god, they were good enough to be His presence because they have not committed any major offenses. We were able to share about the weight of sin and how we have offended a infinite, loving, creator God. We shared some more stories and they had some great questions about God’s character. We were also able to share our stories about why we each believe in Jesus.

This is just one story of God’s goodness, provision, and work on this trip. There are many other encouraging stories that any of us would love to tell. A student who has never felt unconditionally loved before, being taught about how Jesus’ love never fails. Another student who after hearing the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, jumped out of his seat, shook our hands and told us it was the best story He’s ever heard. A friend who we shared with last year taking his Bible home, and how his father and aunt became believers after reading it. Being able to encourage local believers who had fallen away from community since we had last seen them. Seeing Angie (English name), a student who we met and shared with last year, on mission with the local team to share with and disciple other students. Another student who, after hearing the story, read through Genesis, Exodus, Mark, and is now cranking through Matthew as he is considering following Jesus as his one, true King. And this group of college students who’s lives were changed, being able to bring the zeal and intentionality and reliance on the Lord to USFSP, a few even considering the call to live cross culturally after graduation.

God is doing amazing things in East Asia to bring people into joy and fellowship with Himself, and he is using this church in Saint Petersburg to raise up college students to GO, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples”. (Ps. 96:3)

Thank you again for joining us on this mission.