Reflections From Summer Mission Trips

as seen in New Horizons, November, 2023

by Trish Duggan, OPC Short-Term Missions Communications Coordinator

“I don’t know, Lord, what you want me to do with my life,” Anneliese Ferguson prayed. Thirty minutes later, she got a text from the evangelist at her church wondering if she might be interested in filling a position as a staff member at the Boardwalk Chapel in Wildwood, New Jersey. She wasn’t looking for a summer commitment, but God obviously had other plans for her.

Summer staff positions at the Boardwalk Chapel includes serving on the evangelism, domestics, music, and drama teams. Ferguson, a member of Grace OPC in Westfield, New Jersey, is just one of the nearly thirty staff members who served at the Boardwalk Chapel this year from June through the end of August. It’s a big commitment, but, she says, “It’s assisted me in my love of the gospel, helped me to evangelize, and improved my prayer life.”

“God doesn’t call the equipped,” says Seth Van Noord from New Hope Presbyterian in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “He equips the called. You are not called to be a salesman/woman, you are called to give a witness to the gospel. At the end of the day, God is the one who saves, not you.”

Opportunities for 2023 OPC short-term mission trips included an English Camp in Quebec, Canada; an English Camp and Team Praha in the Czech Republic; and the Boardwalk Chapel in New Jersey. In all, over one hundred and fifty OPC short-term volunteers from twenty-one states served this year.

Fellowship in Quebec
Kirsten Behl from Providence OPC in Rockford, Illinois, had an interesting vantage point as the US team chef for the Quebec English Camp: “It was awe-inspiring to see Christ use our OPC young people to serve, teach, lead, and love the children of the small town of St. Georges-de-Beauce and to form lifelong friendships with each other over the course of one week.” Behl explained that the young people exceeded expectations with the responsibilities they showed themselves able to handle. They also enjoyed just being together: “Many of them expressed how lonely it can be in smaller OP congregations with limited interaction with other OP young people. This week was an encouragement to our youth just as much as they were an encouragement to the children.”

A Beehive on the Boardwalk
There are an astonishing nine million visitors each year to the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey. It’s a unique opportunity for reaching the lost. Daniel Nannini from Branch of Hope OPC in Torrance, California, had a hopeful interaction with two men. “I asked them questions about the law of God, such as, have you ever lied? Have you ever taken something? When they realized they’d racked up four charges against themselves, they suddenly both started to become much more serious.” Nannini was able to tell these two men about what God promises and what Jesus accomplished for them on the cross. Associate pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian in Mat-thews, North Carolina, described the Boardwalk Chapel as a “powerful equipping station for the kingdom.” But, he said, it also feels a lot like a beehive. “One team is preparing a meal for dozens of people, a guy is writing his fifth sermon for our nightly program, and on the other side of the room a seasoned man is teaching apologetics, while a couple of young musicians are tuning their instruments to lead us in worship.” All this is happening while volunteers are also taking turns engaging passersby with the gospel. “This really is an amazing place!” Rosser said. Many “short-term-ers” are quick to attest that this type of serving is a love and devotion for spreading the gospel and serving the Lord like they never had before. “I would highly recommend the Boardwalk Chapel. It is wonderful training on how to evangelize, and I grew so much in my faith and relationship with the Lord,” reflected Micaela Teunis from Harvest OPC in Wyoming, Michigan.

Kindness and Hospitality in the Czech Republic
Katharine Olinger from Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania, served with the Farniks in the Czech Republic in July. “This year’s Team Praha was assembled to assist the Farnik missionary family and Reformovana Presbyterni Cirkev with several outreach efforts,” she explained. “My favorite part of the trip was getting to teach VBS classes to children (many without a church background) from the community. Ježíš Kristus jest Pán! [ Jesus Christ is Lord!]” Michael Weld from Bonita OPC in Bonita, California, served on the Czech Republic’s three-week Team Praha. He says, “The trip involved three phases for the three weeks: a VBS childcare program, a hiking trip for seven Czech youth, and finally a VBS in Prague. I was excited to be a part of this because there are very few Christians in Czechia, and there are very few opportunities like this for Czechs or those in the surrounding countries.” Weld also appreciated the time with the Farniks, who are “hospitable and kind. Their heart for the people they were serving was obvious. As a side note, the food is amazing, and the architecture is stunning!”

Short-Term Missions in 2024
Short-term mission trips took a big hit over the last few years in the face of COVID restrictions and border closings, but it’s coming back strong, with the Lord’s leading. Short-term mission trips grow those who serve, encourage those with whom they serve, lead lost souls to Christ—and perhaps even spur on future missionaries. Next summer, OPC Short-Term Missions hopes to have at least one more destination to offer. In addition to this year’s opportunities, we plan to assemble a team to assist with a vacation Bible school in Puerto Rico. For up-to-date information on that and all current opportunities, please visit OPCSTM.org. If you’re not sure where you’d like to serve, feel free to contact OPC Short-Term Missions at opcshorttermmissions @opc.org.

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