Marisa Matthews is not typically an emotional person. But last summer while on a summer project in East Asia, she found herself at a breaking point. The finance major from Texas A&M had joined a team of Cru staff and students for a six-week evangelistic project to Asia and Marisa was expectant to see God change lives for eternity.
“The last week to week and a half we were basically sharing the gospel in every conversation we had,” explains Marisa. But results didn’t add up to Marisa’s expectations or hopes. “My ministry partner and I had lunch with some girls one day and it didn’t go well,” she says acknowledging that multiple distractions, the language barrier and lack of spiritual understanding were all at play in the conversation. “We came to share the gospel but no one was receiving it well,” she remembers, “I got frustrated.”
Marisa and her ministry partner moved on toward their next evangelistic appointment frustrated, discouraged and running late. “We got really frustrated and I broke down,” Marisa confesses. “For me to breakdown was a pretty big deal. We stopped and prayed, saying, ‘God, this is hard but give us joy, even if we are just planting seeds and not seeing the fruit from it.’ For the first time, I began to realize it’s okay to come here and share the gospel with a ton of people and have none of them accept Christ because it is not about me. It’s about the Lord working in their hearts.”
The women continued walking toward their next appointment passing two teammates along the way who committed to pray for them over the next hour. “They prayed we would be encouraged and have joy and be okay with just planting seeds even if no one accepts Christ,” remembers Marisa.
“It was cool to know that the whole time we were meeting with the next girl, they were praying for us.”
Marisa and her ministry partner met up with a student whom they called Amanda. Taking on seat on a bench off to the side of a grassy area on campus, the women began a spiritual conversation.
“We basically shared Knowing God Personally with her with English on one side of the booklet and Amanda’s native language on the other,” explains Marisa. “We asked her to read it and typically we would ask questions like, ‘What does this mean?’ or ‘What do you think sin is?’ to help people understand.”
But Amanda didn’t need extra questions. “She understood it perfectly,” says Marisa, “we didn’t have to say much at all. She was just reading God’s Word and understanding it. God took control and the Holy Spirit was working in Amanda’s heart the whole time.” This was the least amount of input that the two Cru students had added to a conversation all week. Yet, God had prepared Amanda’s heart to understand and respond to His love and forgiveness. She prayed and received Christ that afternoon.
The paradox has stuck with Marisa. “It was so cool to know that I was at such a weak and low point and then God just showed me His power.”
Amanda left her meeting with the two Americans saying she was eager to tell two friends about God’s love. Marisa met with Amanda a few days later encouraging her to write down the four main points and several key verses from the gospel booklet they read through. “I talked with her about how being a Christian is all about being in a relationship. If you are constantly communicating, then your relationship will grow and get better.”
Since returning to school at Texas A&M, Marisa is being faithful to sow the seeds of the gospel among her sorority sisters and she continues to rest in the fact that results come only from God.
“Before, I was scared of rejection or having an awkward conversation or anything like that. But I think a lot of that rejection that we saw the first 5 days in East Asia prepared me well for coming back here. Now I realize they are not rejecting me,” states Marisa.
This summer Marisa’s mission field will look very different. She is applying for summer internships in finance but the needs of the people around her remain the same. “This summer will be a cool learning experience, too,” she says, “even though I won’t be directly on a missions trip – the mission field is anywhere. It will be cool for me to learn what it will look like for the business world to be my mission field. I joke around with people by saying that I had to go on an international mission trip to figure out the importance of doing ministry here in America too,” she states. “I don’t have to go overseas to do missions. I can do it here, wherever my circumstances have me.”
Marisa is now committed to start gospel conversations and leave the heart-changing results to God.
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