Many web readers will remember our web article that recounted AiG’s first outreach to the island nation of Jamaica. (See Jamaica—Vacation or Evangelism?) Frankly, back then we did not know what to expect.
I took 5 young men to work and minister in a Bible camp there for two weeks. That first year, AiG donated three large boxes of materials to give to children, to the Bible college where the camp was held and to give away to various Christian leaders on the island.
Since this first missions trip, AiG has donated and shipped hundreds of books and literature to Jamaica (including materials for a speaking tour conducted by AiG speakers). Next March, Dr Terry Mortenson of AiG-US, will be going to speak at the Bible college where we have served the youth for the past 4 years.
Because of the generous support of many AiG friends, we have truly had an impact on the church and its leaders in Jamaica. We have heard of some wonderful conversions.
My son, Dennis (now in college), was one of the first young men to attend that initial Jamaican missions trip (and every one since, by the way). He shared a thrilling story with me that I thought you would like to read.
My trips to Jamaica have taught me a very important lesson: you never know who you’re going to touch.
It started back in 2000. My dad had already taken a couple of trips to Jamaica and had spoken at a few churches. On one of those trips, church leaders told him about a camp, and they said that he should speak there some day. They also told him to bring anyone else that he could find, because this camp was always in need of workers.
So, in the summer of 2000, four of my basketball teammates, my father and I flew to Jamaica. Our job at camp was simple: we were to do whatever they told us! So, we were assistant counselors to the male Jamaican counselors, and we also worked with children ages 6-12. In addition, we taught basketball to the campers during sports time.
It was a challenge. The language was hard to understand, the water was dirty (I remember a girl from another group who picked up a parasite that made her very sick) and the food was, well, different. I remember the look on my friends” faces when we had “chicken foot soup,” and there was a big ol” chicken claw floating in it!
One evening, during chapel, the preacher (affectionately called “Parrot”—we all had nicknames while there!) spoke a powerful message of salvation. About one fourth of the 120 children came forward to receive Christ. It overwhelmed the Jamaican counselors, forcing me and my teammates to take a few of the children ourselves and share with them how they could have assurance of eternal life in Christ.
I remember taking a young boy, about 9 years old, by the hand and leading him outside. His name was Mark—a shy lad. I sat him down under a tree and asked him, “Why would you want Christ in your life?” I remember the shy, timid look that he gave me, and he said, “I’m scared. I don’t want to go to hell.” That was the first time in my life that I had the chance to lead someone to Christ, and I promised myself that I would never forget Mark.
After that evening, our job became much easier, and the children really opened up to us. They’d sit with us in the cool shade and play with our hair. Many of them had never seen blond hair before, and they’d yell, “You’ve got dog hair!” and then laughed at us.
That one week in Jamaica touched my life. I just couldn’t stay away. So last summer was my fourth year in Jamaica. We were no longer strangers to the camp, and we were no longer “assistant counselors.” For the first time in the history of the camp, the leaders decided that because of our previous work, we would now be “lead counselors.” I had the responsibility of overseeing a room of boys; they actually listened to me as if I were a Jamaican myself. At the end of camp, I was voted “Favorite Male Counselor.”
During the second week of camp (for ages 12–16), there was one camper who especially sought me out. He always had a smile on his face, and wore basketball clothes wherever he went. Whenever I sat down, he would run and jump on my back and yell “Guppy!” (my camp nickname), and would laugh. I kept wondering to myself why he followed me around so much.
One day while this young boy was climbing on me, a Jamaican counselor called over to him, “Hey! Mark, leave poor Guppy alone!” When he jumped off of my back, I froze. “Mark?” I thought to myself, “No, it couldn’t be!” I had never forgotten the name, but Mark had changed so much that I didn’t recognize him from my previous trip. He was so full of joy now—not at all the scared, timid little boy that I knew when he was 9.
I had touched his life and I had no idea how.
Some day in heaven, this may happen to you: You will be walking around in God’s kingdom, and someone will be following you around. Finally you’ll turn around and say, “Can I help you?” With a smile, this person will say, “If God didn’t use you, I wouldn’t be here. You touched my life.”
As a father, I’m so glad that my son has such a passion for world missions. And I’m so grateful that so many of you have supported AiG’s “creation evangelism” outreaches around the world. Indeed, AiG has been blessed to able to “touch” many people with our materials. We’ve been able to ship thousands of materials across the world to missionaries to assist them in sharing the gospel. Also, well over 9,000 people in 95 countries have downloaded our free graphics on this website that they can use in their personal ministry!
Up to 34,000 people a day are coming to this AiG website to become equipped to share their faith. Also, AiG speakers have given talks to tens of thousands in 2003. All of this is possible because God has used so many of you to support “creation evangelism” around the world.
I can’t wait for the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio, to finally open. It will see even more Christians getting excited about their faith after getting answers. So, please pray for this upcoming outreach, and for all of AiG’s Bible-proclaiming ministries.