This trip was a discipleship/missions trip; discipleship during the week and missions on the weekends. Even though sometimes it did not feel like a missions trip, I think we were all profoundly aware that for some reason God had brought us to the Cayman Islands. I believed this so much that I gave up the opportunity for a job with a bookstore (my ideal, non-career job) in a bad job market. God had his hands all over this trip and what exactly he is up to, I am not exactly sure. All I know is that the five of us were brought to the Caymans for a reason.
The discipleship sessions were amazing. Pastor Randy renewed my hope in pastors who are authentically concerned mostly with their people and not their buildings or their status, or whatever. He is a good man and I am so glad that got to learn all of the godly wisdom and teaching that he had to offer. He introduced me to my new hero: William Wilberforce, the man God used to end slavery and save England. He helped to change some of my outlook on the end times and Heaven. But most importantly he cared about us and he shared his life with us. We got to him at home, in church, outside church…we saw happy, stressed, and all emotions in between. Through it all we saw a saint who has gone through the fire and been found pure…a genuine example to imitate because he imitates Christ.
He prepared us for our service on the weekends.
Now, many of you would not find our service too impressive. We did not build any churches or dig any wells in the hot son, nor did we have to cross a river to go to church…but there were definitely somethings that we needed to do. I wish that we had had more prep time for our meetings and sermons, because the way our schedule often was, it always felt like we were winging it. Yet, God used what we did do, to make a large impact on a small island…I am not sure why God chose to use us, we were scared, out of element and out of our culture Christian Americans…but he did.
We did several youth meetings at various times and at various points. Through that we got to know some of the youth and the people who love them and shepherd them on a regular basis. Let me just say that that Chekiya Tatum is a trooper, because she just graduated from high school and she is leading a youth group that averages ten regulars…by herself. The church supports her, but she is the one who does the planning and organizes the group for ministry. She is the one who is going to go to college in FL just so she can come back and continue to give to the island and to those teenagers.
That is the kind of sacrifice God honors for sure.
It did not ever feel like we were getting anywhere; I wonder sometimes if that is what every youth minister thinks on a daily basis. I know it has to be frustrating when the kids are not responsive. We were undaunted though by the low response though and we kept doing our services. It is obvious to me that God was up to something because we started to see some of the kids respond. A young man by the name of Tashaun asked to speak to Josh and I about becoming a follower of Jesus, which we were more than happy to do. And praise God has decided to follow Jesus! The next week, the Twins talked with two twins during volleyball and theyalso became followers of Christ! All three of them were baptized on the third Sunday of our stay.
But that was not all, when people heard about the decisions, they too were inspired to come forward to be baptized. So, on the last Sunday I personally baptized three professing believers in a public swimming pool. The Twins baptized twins for the first time ever in the history of the island. It was truly an amazing and humbling thing to be a part. Thanks also needs to go out to Pastor Randy who prepared us to baptize because we had never done so before.
We all preached at some point and I have to honest…I was never quite happy with what I said. God spoke, I know that, but I always felt like there were a few words I neglected to say. The last night I got up to preach I was really afraid…the enemy did not want me to teach the message I did; I still do not know why. Anyway, I heard that the other guys did well with their messages and the Twins both preached their first sermons.
So, there some ignorant American guys were used to start a revival of sorts on Cayman-Brac. Both churches felt the need to give us love offerings that frankly, we did not deserve. I am still amazed at the generosity of these wonderful people. American churches may or may not take care of you, it all depends on the place…but these two churches put to shame our concept of “Southern hospitality.” They did not just give us a love offering, they constantly took us places, fed us, and entertained us…they literally emptied the bank on our behalf and there is no way we could possibly repay them.
To Mark (who gave us one of his vans when ours died…again), Pauline, Wanda (who opened her home and all sorts of other places for us), Chekiya, Brother Merlyn (sorry if the name is spelled wrong, he was always talking about the goodness of the Lord as he met as at the airport at 5:30am every Monday morning), Miss Cybil, Royce, and so many others….thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting up with us for three weekends and going above and beyond to see that we did not go without. You were wonderful hosts and miss the hospitality and love of your church (and especially Brother Kordell’s singing, man!) I wish you all blessed lives as you are tried and not found wanting the service of our Lord.
So, that is pretty much the surface of all God did while we were in the Cayman Islands. I hope this clears up any misconceptions from the previous blog which was meant to funny and light in a sarcastic/ironic way rather than an actual report on the work. I do apologize for any offense, it was not intended and you have made me pause and consider how I write. Thanks for being honest and bringing it to my attention…because I am oblivious sometimes.
Grace and Peace