by Vivian Geow (PUC accreditation specialist & MBA program advisor)
Between July 26 – August 8 of 2023, I participated in a mission trip conducted by ShareHim ministries to Colombia. Participants with ShareHim are tasked to preach – something I said I would never, ever do. Yet, I was to deliver 11 prepared sermons to a Spanish-speaking audience in Colombia. The assigned location was Neiva, a bustling city of 365,000 people, 200 miles south of the capital city of Bogota. Our group consisted of 12 people- five from northern California (Yountville SDA church) and seven from North Carolina. Within the two subgroups were four to five young adults led by their respective home church pastors.
Once we arrived in Neiva, we were paired with our interpreters and assigned to our churches in an orientation session at the South Andean Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Over the next nine days, we settled into a routine of sermon preparation, gathering for mealtimes, and preaching in the evenings. With each passing day, I came to understand what it meant to trust God. Neiva was a completely foreign place where I had no control over the environment. How will our sermons be received? Can the interpreters deliver the messages effectively? We had to trust God that things will work out according to His will.
By the third day, the nervousness on my first day gradually transformed into excitement for the messages I was to share at Sion Rivera SDA church, my assigned church. I began to recognize visitors among the regular church members who faithfully showed up every evening. Among the topics I presented were the origin of sin, prophecy, and Jesus’ second coming. One topic I was eager to present was regarding the state of the dead, as it was the basis of my conversion to the Adventist faith. How’s that for saying I would never preach?
Our days were interspersed with fun activities – a walking tour of Neiva city center and Tatacoa desert, where we hiked among rock formations and cooled off in natural spring-fed pools. We played basketball and volleyball with high school students at the Adventist K-12 school in Neiva. Throughout the week, we were treated to local fruits, Colombian food, and snacks. We learned that maraschino cherries on pizza were delicacies – this was tough for me to accept. On my last Sabbath, I witnessed the baptism of a young lady from my church, Sion Rivera – a wonderful finale to a hugely memorable time in Colombia.
Perhaps, most importantly, this experience gave me a chance to focus and ponder the reasons for my conviction in the Adventist faith. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” This trip has stretched my comfort zone in so many beautiful ways. I met wonderful people, walked into their culture, and learned how God can use me to further His kingdom. My only regret is not having joined one sooner, and thus, I strongly recommend that other young adults undertake a similar trip if the opportunity comes along for them. As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Go!