Our AYC Trip: Russia
Mission: Apostolic Youth Corps
Destination: “…unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Who will fulfill this mission? You!
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:15).
“The time for your departure is at hand,” said Brother William Turner, field superintendent of Russia, a few days before I left American soil and ventured into the great unknown.
On Thursday night, September 4, 2005, at 11:00 PM, I finally climbed into bed only to be awakened a few hours later at 4:00 AM to finish my packing and make sure my hairdo was going to stay in place for my three-day journey to Russia. As we pulled out of our driveway early that morning, I whispered a bittersweet good-bye under my breath, refusing to look back for fear tears would fill my eyes. This was a two-month goodbye to my comfort zone, my family, and everything that was familiar to me. I was only eighteen years old, taking on a venture that was bigger than my imagination could wrap itself around. When my plane landed in Kazan, Russia on September 7th, I realized I had just stepped out of the ordinary and into an adventure that would leave me with an endless passion!
When you hear the phrase, “world missions,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? There are the obvious answers of foreign cuisines, language differences, beautiful sites, and maybe a certain landmark that you dream of seeing one day. These are all wonderfully diverse things that can make travel fun and extremely interesting. While all those things are wonderful and part of the whole package, I want to dig a little deeper into the meaning and somehow shift your view to the church realm.
We have so many preaching points spread abroad on the UPCI global missions field! This is such an exciting time to be an Apostolic young person/young adult because we have awesome programs presented to us like Apostolic Youth Corps and Associates in Missions. What a dynamic opportunity we have to take part and work hand-in-hand with our missionaries in the field and on the front lines!
The General Youth Division offers so many exciting AYC missions trips each year, and the destination list certainly did not disappoint for 2012. There were trips to Russia, Haiti, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Oregon, Tanzania, the Philippines, and Argentina. This year’s AYC theme is “Remove yourself from the mediocre.” Our choices were numerous and God’s people were ready to receive whatever He had in store! As reports started flowing in from each trip that was in session, you could tell our omnipresent God was doing miraculous works all across the world!
Thirty-one of us were blessed to be a part of the AYC Russia team, and what a dynamic time we shared! For me, it had been six years since I had been to Russia, and my heart knew it was time to return. After several months of fundraising, packing (and repacking), and loss of sleep from pure excitement, I was ready to go.
Our group of thirty-one individuals came together from all walks of life to fulfill one purpose—to turn Russia upside down! What an honor and privilege it was to travel with a group of young people who carried the same passion for missions as I did, all working for the same goal in unity.
From monkeys on our backs to one lost shoe at the metro and from jammed apartment elevators to a misplaced camera—AYC Russia 2012 was definitely an adventure! The bond you create with the people you’ve only known for a few days is amazing, and you will leave feeling like they are a part of your family! Through much laughter, tears, prayer, and interceding in God’s presence, it became a life-changing journey for all of us. Tenderness sweeps in and God is able to mold your heart in the shape He desires. He breathes life into your being as you discover your destiny.
The travel sites are amazing, but it’s even more amazing to look into the children’s eyes in Haiti and see their world light up when you tell them that you love them. Or praying with Russian locals as we watched three receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking with other tongues! Or traveling on a metro and seeing an elderly lady smile when someone showed her they care! The missionaries, the locals, the newfound friends: it’s all about the people!
The people God places in your life is what makes AYC and AIM part of the core of what ministry is all about! We are commissioned to reach the lost. We possess the truth, and we are instructed to preach this message to a world that hungers for a fulfilling love that only God possesses. Missions is not just an occupation or duty; it is a passion. Most people who view missions on the outside see it as a sacrifice for the persons involved. They may view it as having to give up everyday routines and lifestyles. However, to the heart of a true missionary, it is not a sacrifice but rather an honor to serve Him. Don’t think of it in terms of things you have to give up, but think of it as higher expectations and priorities replacing the feeble ones you used to possess. Not to mention the absolute fun you’ll have!
Ask yourself one simple question: “will I be next?”
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).
The Lord has given me wonderful opportunities to minister on the missions field in Russia, France, and Haiti. He has always shown Himself faithful! For travel tips and more, check out my book Passport to Missions. You can purchase this directly from me at firstname.lastname@example.org from the Pentecostal Publishing House at pentecostalpublishing.com.
For more information on how to be involved in the AYC program, and for the 2013 destinations, please contact the General Youth Division at pentecostalyouth.org!