The happiest time of the year At long last, it’s the most wonderful time o...
By Rev. Dr. Jen Haddox, Director of Global Engagement
In this pilot year of the program, ECO sent 3 young adults into mission mentorships this summer. When they applied in January, they were eager, hopeful, and willing to grow through the experience. After interviewing them, I matched them with available site mentors who were referred to us by ECO’s Mission Partners. We met on Zoom every other week this Spring for pre-field preparation, and then had an intensive weekend of training in Southern California before they launched on June 5 to South Asia, Eastern Europe, and Rome, Italy.
While their ECO churches back home prayed for them and funded them, and their site mentors guided their summer experience, it has been my privilege to coordinate the experience from beginning to end and to see the growth in their lives. I was blown away by the discipleship transformation evident in their lives and the amazing stories of God’s faithfulness that they shared. Each of them overcame hardships that deepened their faith, saw evidence of God’s Kingdom growing, and came home ready to be ambassadors for Jesus in new ways in their home contexts.
Kelly served in South Asia with an Integrated Disciple-making Movement. For most of the experience, she had a home-stay with a Christian family, and was able to experience the beautiful and difficult realities of the gospel. She was inspired by the dedication of Christians to stand up for their faith in the midst of persecution, the generous hospitality she received, and the vulnerability of house church communities.
“I really got to experience first hand the lack of the gospel, and about so many people who have no knowledge of Christianity, and it inspires me to make sure that people have access to know about Jesus and to be able to be led to him with truth.”
Nate served in Rome with a church planting team working primarily with asylum-seekers and was regularly involved in evangelism and house church work. A highlight was getting to know a man from a Muslim background who had interacted with the team for a number of years. Nate befriended him, and about 3 weeks into the summer, this friend made a decision for Christ and was baptized. Nate reflects, “It brought so much joy to see the growth of God’s Kingdom and see this man step into Jesus’ open arms, repent of his sins, and recognize the way to salvation.”
“I was able to see how much devotion goes into gospel work. Evangelism is difficult at times, and you see different results, you’re discouraged; you’re joyful. It’s been a beautiful thing to experience this first hand with a mentor who could walk with me.”
Anthony, served in the Balkans with a ministry to develop young leaders of integrity who are committed to reconciliation and peace-building called Renewing our Minds (ROM). His faith grew as he stepped out of his comfort zone participating in a conference that brought people across significant ethnic divides into authentic community. His experience of community in a family oriented culture and ministry, and the close relationship that he developed with his site mentor’s family was transformative.
“I understand family so differently now by being embedded in a community that was based around family. Seeing so many public parks, sharing meals with each other, and being a part of a very strong faith family…It just made me think of how I can do things a little bit differently back home with my family or even with my friends who I consider family.”
As I celebrate the good news from our first Summer Mission Mentorship, I invite you to encourage a young adult in your life to request information, and watch ECO news for the 2024 sites and application to go live this Fall. Learn more about the Summer Mission Mentorship online.
Pictured here are Jen Haddox (center), Director of Global Engagement along with SMM participants: Kelly (Trinity in Santa Ana) (left of center), Anthony (Church of the Valley, Apple Valley, CA) (far right), and Nate (First Presbyterian, Mooresville, NC) (right of center)