The eight of us had spent a ton of time together over the past several years, and I was mostly excited for this trip to have a front row seat for what God was going to do in their lives. I’ve been leading students on trips like this for almost a decade now, and so I mostly had in my mind what our 10 days there were going to look like.
This trip was different, however.
Not only did I have a front row seat to what God was doing in their lives, but God was stirring in my heart at the same time. I wasn’t just leading seven students – I was growing right alongside them. One day in particular grabbed everybody’s attention. Our team as well as the CIY staff and leaders from Northern Ireland went to the Nendrum Monastic Site. I don’t know all the history, but it’s the ruins of a 1,500-year-old monastery.
When we got out of the vans, admittedly I was thinking, “We are only here a few more days, why are we stopping at historical sites? Let’s go tell people about Jesus, or build something, or pick up trash.” Outwardly I was acting like I was excited to explore the site, inwardly I was over the history lesson. We spent some time just hanging out, eating lunch, taking pictures, throwing a frisbee, etc. But then we took some time to walk around, read about the history and pray.
In these moments our group collectively came to a realization that has stuck with me. First of all, it is because of places like this, and other monasteries around the world, that the Bible has been passed down through generations.
These places have allowed for us to have the Good News of Jesus in a language that we can read. If it wasn’t for places like this, you could probably make the case that the history of the Bible and the Good News about Jesus would have been lost in the dark ages. These places, and the people in them mattered! Their lives mattered. Their work has changed the world for the name of Jesus. But then something else struck me.
Even though I stood in the middle of the Monastic site, I can’t name a single monk from history. That moment was when it all clicked for me and our entire group. The monks’ lives mattered, but their names didn’t. Their lives mattered because of their work in spreading the Gospel, but their names don’t. Because the only name that matters was the name they were writing about – Jesus.
That day our group walked away inspired to be people whose lives matter, but to have names that don’t. We walked away with a renewed desire to work hard for the name of Jesus. To serve others in the name of Jesus. To make our lives count and matter for something bigger than ourselves. The only name that matters is Jesus. What a lesson and experience for our group. What a powerful “Jesus moment” that took place in the middle of 1,500-year-old site. God was using this place hundreds of years ago, and he continues to use it to draw people into His mission today.
I’m so thankful that Engage introduced our group to places like this, where we learn that we get to join in on what God has been doing for centuries. Engage uses the tagline all the time of, “Training for a life of Kingdom work.” Friends, that’s not just smoke. That’s real. Our students didn’t go to Northern Ireland, serve people and leave. They went to Northern Ireland, participated in what God was already doing, and because of places like Nendrum, left Northern Ireland trained to be on mission. That’s more than I could have ever hoped for on a trip like this, and we’re anxious for God’s next lesson on our 2020 Engage trip.
Jeremy Stevenson is the student minister with Franklin (TN) Christian Church. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.