Saltshaker 2017 India/Bhutan Update #15: Final Reflections and Reports

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Saltshaker 2017 Final Reflections and Reports

The entire Saltshaker team was challenged in so many ways in both Bhutan and India. It is not easy to be a Christian in either of these countries. Americans don’t have to chose between their life, family, job, or social standing and the gospel. We met a lady who literally had to sneak out of her house in order to come to church services because her husband was Hindu. You see, often when Americans become Christian, they just add it as a title to their life, as if adding another line in their resume, but they don’t make it their life. I have been asked many times in reflecting on this Saltshaker experience, “How are you going to let it change you?” Well, I am going to start with making my life revolve around Christ. The past 18 days have been packed full of opportunity and change. Each of us has pushed our limits, gone outside our comfort zone, but now we all have a new comfort zone. I have felt a great challenge to make following Christ my comfort zone. He has no limits; therefore, when following His call, I shouldn’t have any either.

-Lynelle Bogan

Bethel Friends Church

 

I think that I could write a ten page reflection paper over this trip. I feel like I have said it a lot in the past few days but this has been one of the greatest joys and honors of my life, being able to see the international Church in action. Seeing what the Lord is doing overseas through EFM Bhutan and EFM Kolkata, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same or look at church the same way. 

I loved India even though my heart was broken over and over again watching the Indian people worship idols. Walking down the street and not being able to count to 15 without seeing another idol or prayer temple was sickening, like a constant reminder of the darkness at work in India. Specifically, one time when we were walking and there was a Hindu idol and a group of adults were chanting and giving some type of sacrifice. Then I noticed a small girl, maybe around the age of 6. Her parents were teaching her how to bow and how to give an offering to this idol and they were pushing her towards this idol she very obviously didn’t want to be looking at. She had no choice to the family she grew up in and I couldn’t help but think about her life to come. A life of constant offerings and worshiping hundreds of different gods and a life of hopelessness without joy. I thought about her teenage years when she was trying to figure out who she was and having to search that out through the idols she worshiped and finding her worth in how much she could offer to them. I thought about her first heartbreak and where she would turn, about her marriage and how that would be centered around rules and restrictions rather than love and the example Christ gave us. As well as her children and how that cycle would continue. I had never been more grateful to my parents for raising me in a Christian home. A freedom I take for granted nearly every moment of the day. 

I have felt challenged by the leadership of the churches and the way they are discipling the next generation, specifically the Church in Bhutan. Rupak himself, on top of all the ministry he and his family are doing, is discipling and equipping leaders that start churches, shepherd people, and make more disciples. Every bit of the Tamang family life revolves around the ministry the Lord has called them to. There is no higher priority or aim than to seek first the Kingdom. In my life, there are so many more things that take priority over the ministry the Lord has called me to, I refuse to let that take a backseat any longer. I refuse to live a life that has any other higher aim than to further the Kingdom of God here on this earth.

-Jenna Easley

Friends University/Northridge Friends

 

Saltshaker 2017 was my 3rd mission trip that I’ve ever been a part of. The other two were Spring Invasion trips to Mexico.  Although Spring Invasion is great, the Saltshaker experience is much more like the life of a missionary.  No matter what we did, God, relationship building, and spreading the news of the Great Faith was our main focus. We visited churches all over West Bengal, India and Bhutan.  Being able to see the work of God up close and personal was what changed my life the most. In this part of the world, once a person chooses to follow Christ they are cast out of their homes or villages (if their family/neighbors do not believe in the same way) for months sometimes even for life. Christians struggle everyday. In America we also struggle from persecution, but in a different way. We usually aren’t cast out of our homes or frowned upon by others but we can be kicked out of friend groups or made fun of because we choose to live a different lifestyle.  Being able to go on Saltshaker 2017 has opened my eyes to the troubles that I will face in the near future. Going off to college is a big step in a young person’s life and it’s during this step that most young Christian’s fade away from the faith and begin to live for themselves. This mission trip has allowed me to reevaluate my priorities in a way that may help me be a bright light for God in the atmosphere of a non-Christian college. Going on this Saltshaker has changed my life for the better and I am forever thankful for the opportunity to be a part of God’s ministry in Asia.

-Zack Leininger

Bethel Friends Church

 

Every morning since we left Wichita, we have had a morning devotion as a team. Each day during these mornings we prayed that our hearts would be broken for the same things that breaks God’s heart. On our last day in India we got the opportunity to view a Hindu temple, the idol being worshiped is the goddess of destruction. From the moment we entered the door of the temple, to the moment we left, my sprit was unsettled. On one end I witnessed men physically pushing each other to get close to the idol, on the other I saw women and children bringing offerings to the idol. At first I was angry at these people and at God for allowing his creations to stray so far away. But it was the smiling children with paint on their faces and offerings of food in their hands, that broke my heart for the kingdom. That same day we went to the Ganges River, a Hindu pilgrimage where they are to come and bath in the “holy” water. Although the site was unnerving and I wanted to leave immediately, God brought to my attention the young children. These six and seven year olds splashing each other with the water and seeming to have fun. I was once again made aware that this is not joy. This is happiness, that feeling is fleeting. My joy comes from the Lord. These people don’t know what true joy is, nor do realize that they are still searching. They are unsatisfied by their gods, they are hungry for something more. They are hungry for the one who created them in His image. These are the people my heart breaks for.  

-Hallie Mayes

Rose Hill Friends Church

 

Saltshaker 2017 was such an amazing experience. I am so thankful that God granted me the opportunity to participate and share the gospel. Normally, Saltshaker stays in one country for the whole trip, but we had the special privilege and honor of visiting two different countries: India and Bhutan. We were able to preach, sing, perform skits, and worship God with so many different people and churches. Both mission fields have impacted my life and faith forever. The believers in this part of the world have such strong faith and courage for God. I knew that Christians were persecuted for their faith, but I did not fully comprehend the extent of the persecution. When someone accepts Christ, both in Bhutan and India, they are instantly shunned and excommunicated from their villages, friends, and families. In America, we have complete religious freedom. We are not shunned from our towns or families when we accept Christ, and we do not have to hide our faith. In Bhutan, we had to be quiet and hurry into the churches so that we would not be seen or caught violating the terms of our “tourist visas”. I am so thankful that I live in a country where I am allowed to worship my God freely. Someone who impacted me a lot was this pastor from Bhutan. His name is Solomon and he is only 19 years old. He has been leading and pastoring this church in a slum since he was 15. I thought that was so amazing that he had so much faith as a 15-year-old that he would lead a church. His story really made me think about what more I could be doing for God’s kingdom. Seeing their faith and courage greatly encouraged me to be stronger in my faith. At the beginning of this trip, I was scared to let people see us pray in public or worship God because I was afraid of the persecution. Once I got to witness true faith in God from these people, I learned not to be afraid. I am not afraid to show my faith and worship my God. Both the mission fields of India and Bhutan have changed my life and my faith for the better. I have been so blessed by them, and I am excited to live fearlessly for God.

-Mark Persinger

Bethel Friends Church/Friends University

 

This trip has been an amazing experience! We saw so many wonderful things while in India and Bhutan. I got to see one of my oldest and closest friends get baptized, I got to see that the church in India and Bhutan is very much alive and well, I got to encourage youth in their faith, and I got to witness the incredible faith of a group of brave women who were a part of a house church. These were just a few examples of the amazing things that the team and I got to be a part of on Saltshaker 2017. Like on all other mission trips, we are listening for God’s voice and what he has to say to us and to show us. We prayed that our heart should break for what breaks God’s heart. While in India and Bhutan, my heart was broken. There were several times where we saw so many people practicing a religion other than Christianity. It broke my heart to see so many people who didn’t know of the one true God. Whether it was seeing Hindu’s give offerings to an idol, or merchants selling Buddha statues it broke my heart. I do not know for sure what God was trying to tell me, maybe He wants me to minister to people of other religions. This trip truly has been life changing. I have grown more mature in my spiritual life, and I realized some things. I realized that I don’t need a perfect testimony to make an impact on someone’s life. My crazy life is what will make the impact, not a seemingly perfect life. I also feel ready and willing when called upon to preach or share. Before the trip, I felt like preaching and sharing was for people with a Bible degree. After the trip, I realize that you can share and preach no matter who you are. These will stick with me for the rest of my life and will impact my walk with Christ. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be Jesus’ hands and feet and to share with the people of India and Bhutan!

Bailey Pohlman

Northridge Friends Church

 

I went into the trip pretty scared, scared of pushing my boundaries and going to a new place on the other side of the world. But I felt called to go to India and Bhutan so I decided to push my boundaries. Adam says I personally worked harder and sacrificed more than any other team member to fundraise for this trip. Throughout the trip I grew spiritually. As we did have a little suffering during the trip, I realized how there’s people worshiping God that were persecuted, kicked out of their family or village, maybe even stoned. But still they follow Jesus relentlessly. They still worship him loudly. Pray to him contently. And they still love him with everything they have. Through everything they had endured just to follow the one true God, they were still firm believers. And this really helped me in my faith. I realized how God really is there for everything, and no matter how bad it may get, we always can turn to God. You can see the joy of the Lord on all of their faces, a joy that I could do much better at showing. This trip also made me realize how willing I need to be, to be his hands and feet, how if I’m called to do something then to not even think twice, because whatever it is that God is calling me to do, he will empower me to do it. While we were in Bhutan I had felt called to get baptized in the Thimphu River along with five other Bhutanese youth. I felt ready to take the next step in my faith, to show that I am here and willing, that I’m His, that I want to be God’s hands and feet, I want God to work through me in any and every way that he needs. This trip has opened both my eyes and my heart. 

Alec Schenck
Northridge Friends Church

 

I want to thank God for the wonderful opportunity he gave to everyone of us on this Saltshaker mission trip. It gave me a great joy and blessing to participate on this trip with all the Saltshaker team with God’s leading and guiding us in every field and in every way. I have experienced God’s love and great mysteries of new and great blessings towards everyone of us. I even got a chance to know and feel about what it takes to serve and to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ and that was amazing. In fact, I would give myself to serve and to suffer for him all my life. On the other hand, I know that he has great plans for everyone of us in this team and for everyone who he loves. 
But in every thing, it’s not about us but for the glory to our heavenly Father. I would say that I am in love with Him once again and that wouldn’t be possible without this team and this trip which was imparted from our Lord through EFM. I love you all and thank you so much.

-David Tamang
Thimphu Friends Church, Bhutan

22 year old eldest son of Bhutan National Leaders Rupak & Pramila Tamang

 

Saltshaker 2017 was an amazing experience for the whole Saltshaker team, the EFM ministries in India and Bhutan, and for me personally. It was an honor to work along side the missionaries in India and Bhutan. I enjoyed preaching, teaching, and learning with the Saltshaker team. We got to work alongside of many of the youth workers in India and Bhutan. In Bhutan, we got to lead a Youth Revival Meeting, which brought a lot of joy to my heart. In India we went from church to village church and even from house to house sharing encouragement and learning from the believers. This trip really affirmed my call into ministry. With the experiences we had with the youth, I feel God calling me into youth ministry. Not only do I feel called to minister in the future, I also feel called to do God’s work now. I have learned a lot about joy and trust. When hard or different times come, I have learned to have joy through those hardships and to trust God with everything. God is doing amazing things in Bhutan and India and also in each of the members of our Saltshaker team. I am so thankful for this opportunity to gain new perspectives and to further the Kingdom of God.

Parker Titus

Bethel Friends Church/Friends University