A Call to Revival

eric Mission Leave a Comment

I have always had a special interest in working with young people at my church, but for the past few years, I have been preoccupied with work and other school-related responsibilities. I was being consumed by earthly demands to the point that I completely neglected my communion with God. This resulted in a gradual detachment from spiritual things and infrequent church attendance. I felt a tremendous void in my soul. My spirit was tormented, and I was unable to sleep at night. I soon realized that God was leading me to a higher calling, and He needed to start the preparation process. I was impressed to search for opportunities to attend a mission trip. The Holy Spirit led me to the GYC website and once I registered to receive information, I received an invitation to attend the GYC 2019 Iceland mission trip. In a miraculous way, God ensured that all requirements and necessary approvals were granted so I could attend this mission trip.

I was not prepared for what God had in store for me upon my arrival to Iceland. I learned that the main goal of this mission trip was to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to reach the people of Iceland by praying for them and delivering a message of hope through the distribution of GLOW tracts. During the United Prayer and Devotional sessions, I learned the need to daily surrender myself as a sacrificial offering on God’s altar in order to be filled with the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. As in the day of Pentecost, we poured out our hearts to God, confessing our sins and pleading for the presence of the Holy Spirit to equip us to serve as an instrument in the work that God was about to accomplish in Iceland. We were also exposed to and encouraged to study the Bible and to view our everyday interactions in light of the great controversy that is currently taking place.  

As we engaged in the spiritual activities and walked the streets of Reykjavik, we were encouraged to pray for divine appointments and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our words to say the right things. Every step I took, every door I knocked on, and every house I GLOWed, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding my steps and giving me the strength to continue. That void that once tormented my soul at night vanished completely and was replaced by an indescribable peace. At last, I was in one accord with my God. The love and genuine care I received from my brothers and sisters attending this mission trip was a little taste of what heaven will be like. I found the true meaning of happiness and success by doing God’s will. I never want to return to my old ways. I am in love with my savior and I must continue telling the world about His tender mercies and love for humanity. Now I understand Jesus’ commission “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

We parted daily to the mission field by asking God to Give Us Iceland or We’ll Die.

Sayi Figueroa, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Sayi Figueroa has worked as a school administrator in NYC for more than 15 years. She is also an adjunct professor at the City College of New York for the Special Education and School Leadership Department. She is committed to sharing God’s love with the students and families in the inner cities.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

The Budget Miracle

eric Mission, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

“Your GYC mission trip food budget is only $7000 US dollars?” Our local Iceland mission trip contact questioned somewhat dubiously as we traipsed through an Icelandic grocery store. “I don’t know if that’s possible.” He explained that he had been involved in cooking for church retreats and other groups there many times and that it took much more money than we’d been allotted for our trip. My heart sank. But this was God’s mission! I was just here to serve, and I knew the rest would have to be up to Him, even though now it seemed like we were trying to cook for a mission trip group on an apparently too small budget.
Several months before, my friend Ellen had been contacted about potentially cooking for the Iceland GYC mission trip. “I’ve really been wanting to do more for God,” she confessed. “And I feel this could be an answer to prayer. But I can’t do it by myself,” she told me. “You have to come with me if I end up going!” “I’d love to help you,” I replied, “but I don’t know if it’ll be financially possible for me.” I’d quit my job almost one year before and had spent some time volunteering in Thailand since then. I didn’t have a lot of extra spending money. But I prayed that if it was God’s will for us to go that Ellen would be chosen as the cook and that it would be financially feasible for me. One month later our prayers were answered. The mission trip leadership invited Ellen to officially be the trip cook and since they were paying for her flight, she graciously paid for half of my flight. We were going!
“Our Iceland mission trip food budget is $7000 US dollars for 28 meals for about 50 people each,” Ellen explained. Doing some quick math, it seemed to be a doable budget at $5 per person per meal. But as we were getting ready to leave, the trip leadership informed us that a bunch of mission trip participants were coming earlier than they’d thought and we’d need to provide 3 more meals now. That’ll affect our budget I realized; that will be less than $5 per meal now.
Soon we found ourselves stepping out of the Reykjavik airport into blustery gusts of wind.  Our local Icelandic mission trip contact met us there to take us grocery shopping. As we began perusing the grocery store shelves struggling to identify ingredients in the Iceland language, we told our Icelandic friend about our budget amount. And that’s when he told us he wasn’t sure that was possible. My heart sank as I thought about our now seemingly impossible food budget. Of course, I wanted to do our best to stay within our given budget to help keep this mission trip affordable for everyone. So Ellen and I began to pray. We’d prayed before the trip, but now our prayers were more urgent and more specific.
After tallying up how much we’d spent on groceries for our first shopping trip, I estimated that yes, I thought it would be possible to stay within our $7000 food budget for the trip. But it might be tight. We’d just have to see.
The missionaries soon started arriving and I didn’t have hardly a second to even stop for the next 10 days as we rushed around cooking three meals a day for 50 people, as well as taking regular trips to go grocery shopping. As the receipts from all our shopping excursions began to pile up, I wondered if everything with the money would work out. But I was too busy to have time to tally up the receipts.
In the evenings when the rest of the group returned from their daily outreach of passing out Glow tracks and praying with people around Iceland, bursting with exciting stories of how God had led them, I sometimes felt a tinge of disappointment that I wasn’t getting to experience these blessings of seeing God working like they were. But I would remind myself that God needs people to serve in every area and he could bless us here in the kitchen too. Ellen and I continued praying that we’d stay within the budget and be a blessing there to others.
As the trip neared its close, we did our final Friday shopping trip before Sabbath. I added that receipt to the big stack in my wallet and felt a bit of guilt. I had literally no idea how much we’d spent on food. And while I was guessing we were not over budget I felt bad that I actually didn’t know. But I’d not had a second to spare to add things up.
After a blessed Sabbath of fellowship and testimonies with local believers and our mission trip participants, the trip was over: Our last meal had been cooked, the kitchen cleaned. As Ellen and I drove towards the capital city of Reykjavík on Sunday, I pulled out all the receipts. Now I finally had time to do some accounting; the moment of truth had come. What would the results be? Had we made our budget? Gone over? Hopefully maybe come under a little?
I typed in all the receipt dates and amounts and did some quick formulas to find out the sum. No, that total amount could not be correct! I checked my dollar amounts back to the receipts. No, they were all right. Then I checked my formulas. They looked fine too. But something was wrong; there was no way that the total amount could be accurate. Maybe something really was messed up with my formulas. So I quickly added it up manually. Same number! How was it even possible? The total amount that had been spent on groceries and food for the entire mission trip was less than $3000 US dollars! That was not even half our budget! It was not humanly possible. Our local Icelandic contact had thought that even our full budget of $7000 was probably not enough. I got goosebumps as I realized that God had worked a miracle for us, a total financial miracle! And I knew with no doubt that just as much as God had been right there with the other missionaries going door to door, that He’d also been with us, as we rushed with 6 carts of food through grocery store isles and chopped boxes of potatoes. He’d blessed us with this miracle reminder that He’s involved in every aspect of our lives, whether that’s mission work on the streets, finances, or slicing at the kitchen counter. He’d given us this special blessing to show us that He cared about our service in the kitchen, that He had answered our prayers above and beyond what we could have even imagined, and that this was His mission trip!
As I jumped into life back in Canada after the trip, God had one more big blessing for me. Remember how I wasn’t sure that I would be able to afford to go on this trip due to my own personal finances? Well, during the Icelandic mission trip, I’d ended up having to put one grocery bill from the trip on my own credit card. I’d sent the receipt to GYC for reimbursement. Now, a month after the trip, the cheque finally arrived in Canada. As I tore the envelope open, I stared in disbelief at the amount. That was not correct. That was way more money than I’d spent on groceries. I glanced down at the memo line: “groceries and flight” it read. As tears threatened, I realized they were reimbursing me for my flight over. My heart burst in thankfulness to God for taking such good care of me and of my finances, for answering all my prayers, and for honoring my limited efforts to serve Him in Iceland.

Alissa Dreher, Canada
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Alissa Dreher is looking for opportunities to serve God in any capacity that she can and asking God to direct her steps each day. She will soon be heading back to Asia to help support a missionary family there

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

Faithful To The End

eric Mission Leave a Comment

When I first heard of the Iceland mission trip, I was intrigued. Not because I had the desire to pray and help bring secular Europe closer to Christ, but simply because it was Iceland. Who doesn’t want to go to Iceland? After I arrived, during our first united prayer session, I was silent and asked myself what I had gotten into. I soon diagnosed myself with imposter syndrome, because I felt that I was not nearly as good a Christian as the wonderful people I found myself surrounded with. Nonetheless, I decided I would give it my best shot.

The following evening, after our hour-long united prayer session and worship, we went out for the first time to pray for each street we walked down, each door we knocked on, and each individual we came across. Now I really contemplated what I had signed up for since it was so unlike me to go up to a house by myself and offer prayer. I prayed that God would give me the right words, for I was not worthy. I prayed that the Lord would use me despite my sins and transgressions and that none of them would come between God and the people. After a few rejections, I began to sense curiosity in people. This was what kept me going.

With practice and more fervent prayers, I began to see how powerful God was. While I was delivering GLOW one day, I happened to be assigned to a territory filled with apartments. In Iceland, most apartment complexes have a foyer where you can deliver the mail to its tenants. While I was doing this, I came across a huge complex and I was thrilled because I saw all the postboxes I was going to be able to deliver GLOW to. However, when I went to open the door, it was locked. I was flooded with disappointment because I saw all the postboxes. I tried opening each door of the building, however, it was all in vain. I buzzed a few apartments to see if they would let me in, but I received no answer. For some reason, I had the urge to keep trying, but there was nothing left to try. Finally, I resorted to the solution I should have done in the first place. I prayed that God would open the door. Shortly after, a tenant came out of the building and I stopped him offering him prayer and the GLOW. He accepted the GLOW and gave me a prayer request, but he was running late for work so he did not have time to pray with me. As he was leaving, I asked, “Could you let me in the building to deliver GLOW to the rest of the building?” I had my doubts, but he happily opened the door, allowing me to reach everyone else in that complex. This showed me just how quickly God can answer prayers!

Prayers are more powerful when we put aside all doubt and ask for the Holy Spirit, but even with our little faith God still shows his power. One day I was GLOWing and it was pouring outside. I tried to stay positive, but the cold wind and my damp clothes got in the way. I wasn’t having much success with offering prayer either, so I decided to simply GLOW the houses instead of knocking on doors that day. That way, they couldn’t reject the pamphlets and they would find it in their mail at some point. Usually I try to push through my doubts and weaknesses, however, that day I let my fear get a hold of me. Despite this, I came across this home and as I was going to put the pamphlets in their mailbox, I could hear their voices inside. I felt the need to knock, not because I had felt that they needed prayer, but because I thought it would be social suicide if I was in the middle of putting something in their postbox and they just happened to walk out. Either way, I knocked. A young adolescent couple answered and I gave them the redundant GLOW Iceland introduction and offered prayer, expecting nothing of it. To my surprise, the young man said yes with excitement and started listing things off. Once he was finished, he looked to his girlfriend, who had rejected the offer for prayer, and told me to pray for her and her family anyways. I prayed with them and let God give me the words. Once I was finished, the character of the girlfriend was transformed, and she became curious about the GLOW tracts. This encounter taught me that even with my little faith, God is all-powerful and will show his love in mercy regardless of my lack of it.

With each and every prayer session, devotional, worship, personal conversations with God and encounter with the people of Iceland, I realized that we are all sinners and we all need to ask the Lord to forgive us and use us in spite of our weaknesses, because if it was based on who was worthy to do His work, none of us would be qualified. I began to see that we can only accomplish so little, and we are in need of being willing to let go of ourselves and to be bathed in the Holy Spirit daily. “Prayer and faith will do what no power on earth can accomplish,” (509, Ministry of Healing). This mission taught me so much about how far away I was from God, how dependent I need to be on Him and the power of prayer. I was able to pray with many individuals and saw how much some of them longed for something deeper and a more meaningful life. I continue to pray that God will give us Iceland, and I hope that I can continue this mission everywhere I find myself in so that I can be used by God and spread His message to the end.

Jose Brenes, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

José Brenes is a freshman student at the University of Michigan currently studying pre-medicine. He grew up in the sheltered Adventist community of Berrien Springs, MI; now that he is in a new setting in the college town of Ann Arbor, he is excited to see how God can use him in a worldly environment.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

How I Learned to Pray

eric Mission Leave a Comment

One night, earlier this year, I was on Facebook when I saw advertising for the GYC mission trip to Iceland. I have always wanted to go to Iceland, so I clicked on it to see when the dates were. My heart sank, August 8th-18th! The busiest time of the year for me. So I went to bed and told myself to just forget about it. But as hard as I tried it wouldn’t leave my mind.

A few days later I mentioned the trip to my parents and they encouraged me to sign up. I still wasn’t ready to send in the application. I figured I would never get the time off work and get everything done in time. Little did I know that God had other plans. To make a long story short, I got the time off work and all the sponsors that I needed, my passport came in two weeks and before I could even think I was on a plane to Iceland. It’s an understatement to say that I was nervous because I was very nervous! I had never flown that far by myself to meet people and do something that I had never done before.

When I arrived in Iceland I found out that we were going to be passing out GLOW and praying with people in the towns around where we were staying. My mind started going crazy! I am not a person that just likes to knock on doors and pray with strangers. But it wasn’t like I could just go home – I was thousands of miles away. So I sent up a little prayer for help because there was no way that I could do this alone.

After the first couple of days, I really started to miss home. I started to miss my Mom the most; we are very close. I called her one night crying because I really just wanted to go home. She then asked me why and I started to tell her. Then it hit me! Was I willing to give up on the people in Iceland just because I wanted to be home? Maybe there is just one person there that needed a smile or needed me to hand them a GLOW tract and pray with them. Maybe one day they would be in heaven because of it. Was I willing to give all that up? My mom then told me that I would be okay and that I could do this.

The next day, I was in Jonathan Walter’s car and we were in our area getting ready to start the day. I then heard him say “Sarah, are you ready?” Everything inside me was screaming no, but all that would come out of my mouth was yes. As I got out of the car I was totally freaking out. I had never done anything like this by myself before and I didn’t think that I could do it. I then began to pray for peace, strength, knowledge, and to not get lost. As much as I hate to admit it, I can get lost super easy. After praying that prayer I had so much peace. A peace that I had never felt about anything!

There are many other stories that I could tell you, but I believe that this is what has made the most impact on me. On this mission trip, I learned so much about prayer. I learned that I can talk to God about every single little thing in life and that I can pray all day. I had grown up praying but before the mission trip, I would just pray to God when I needed something. Not as a true friend.

I am so thankful that God made a way for me to go on this mission trip even when I thought it wasn’t possible. He knew that it would draw me closer to Him and that it would change my life forever. Thank you so much GYC for making a difference in the lives of not just the people in Iceland but also others around the world.

Sarah Lake, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Sarah Lake is the Office Manager at Horse Plus Humane Society. She has a passion for missions, horses, and her family. Sarah is active in her local church youth ministry and looks forward to serving God wherever He leads.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

Bursting out of Your Comfort Zone

eric Mission Leave a Comment

The greatest places in life often exist outside our comfort zones. Have you ever witnessed a geyser bursting up into the air? Geysers are caused by boiling heat and pressure that build up and form a beautiful attraction for all to see. When God’s passion is inside, like the pressure that forms a geyser, you cannot keep it in. Coming to Iceland for the GYC mission trip this year was definitely a life-changing experience for me where I truly let go and let God burst out through me.

On a particularly cloudy day, dozens of doors were slammed in my face block after block. “Oh, Christian? God? No, thank you.” The same rejections over and over discouraged me almost to the point of giving up. I remember praying to God, “Please Lord, let this last street be different.” Right after I prayed, a religious woman opened her door and actually prayed for me! The people I met after that opened their hearts with a reception and willingness to let me pray with them. God is good. Later, I met an older lady picking berries who did not regard me much at first. She took some GLOW tracts and then I walked away. To my surprise, she followed me to the next street and asked for a few more to give to her friends.

On the final day of GLOW and prayer outreach, I set a goal of giving out 1,000 GLOW tracts. Not only did God more than double that goal, but three business allowed me to leave piles of the health tracts for their elderly clients. What a huge blessing! Acts 1:8 states, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” I ultimately pray that God will continue to take me out of my comfort zone in service for others. We all need an unexpected geyser experience. The greatest places in life often exist outside our comfort zones. However, it is in these places where we truly reach the end of ourselves in order that we might go to the end for God’s glory.

Marselinny Mawuntu, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Marselinny (Elin) Mawuntu studies at Wildwood Health Institute for the medical missionary training program, studying health evangelism. She has traveled to many places within the U.S. and abroad, passionate about missions in sharing God’s love. Through His guidance and revival in her life, she is looking forward, prayerfully, to what God has in store for her next in the future.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

From Fear to Faith

eric Mission Leave a Comment

“GYC Mission Trip to Iceland,” read the title of the newsletter that showed up on my phone. This was ironic as I was (right then) in a foreign missions committee meeting from my church. I didn’t pay too much attention to it. No money, I thought, as I put my phone down. And I have a job, I can’t just leave. Little did I know that God wasn’t done yet with trying to convince me that He wanted me on this trip.

A few weeks later at my church a missionary spoke on foreign missions during the divine service. I had actually just walked out at the beginning of the sermon because I had something to do and ended up talking to a friend in the hallway. By the time I set foot in the sanctuary again I had missed half of the sermon. But just listening to the last part was enough for me to know that God was calling me to something very special: mission trips. I stayed after the service to pray with a small prayer group that got together every week and I asked God for wisdom about the Iceland trip.

As soon as I came home from church, I signed up. But not without a serious talk between me and God. You see, I would never go door-knocking when my church would do so. And they do it at least once a month, mind you. It’s just not something that I felt comfortable with. Well, comfortable is probably an understatement. It freaks me out, gives me anxiety, and makes my heart jump out of my chest. That’s a better way to describe my relationship with that type of evangelism. I am a cinematographer, photographer, and copywriter by trade, that’s how I do ministry. I am not someone who wants to be on the front lines knocking on doors. But sometimes you have to be radical for God. Sometimes He calls you somewhere and you have no idea why. Sometimes He calls you out of your comfort zone because He knows that that’s exactly where He needs you to be. Call me crazy, but I signed up. As soon as my thumb tapped confirm, all I could think of was: what in the world have I done? Yet I had a sense of peace, knowing that I was doing the right thing, that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

The first day of the mission trip arrived and I was in the van on my way to knock on my first door. My heart was racing, my blood flooding my cheeks. I looked at my sheet with instructions over and over again, trying to memorize every single word that I had to say in case someone opened the door. I was the last one of my group to be dropped off. “Blessings”, the Aussie driver, Tim, said as I hopped off the van. His words became an audible blur to me, a faint whisper that was overcome by the sound of my throbbing heart as I set one foot in front of the other towards my first house. I rang the doorbell. No one opened. I left some Glow tracts in the mailbox. The next few houses were just as desolate as the first one. I secretly hoped that this would be the case for every single one of them. I could handle putting Glow tracts in mailboxes. If someone would come to the door I would just walk away as fast as I could, pretending that nothing had happened. Maybe they’d think those tracts had magically showed up on their doormat, or some alien had left it there as a message from heaven, calling them to repentance.

But then I heard the sound of footsteps and the squeak of a door. I looked into the eyes of an Icelandic local, me trying to smile as if it were possible to hide my nerves. With all the energy that my body could come up with, I pitched my invitation to prayer (probably sounding like a complete robot with how well I had memorized the lines) while wondering if he could detect the tremor in my voice. “No, thank you,” echoed his voice. There, he said it. My first rejection with many more to come. “That’s ok, here’s something to brighten your day.” At least he took the Glow tracts. And he hadn’t slammed the door in my face either the way I had expected everyone to. Off to the next door I went.

I only knocked on doors for one day and put Glow tracts in people’s mailboxes one other day. GYC needed my skills as a cinematographer and photographer to shoot some video and photos for them. It was a sense of relief yet at the same time a disappointment. I came on this trip because I wanted to overcome my fear and discomfort of knocking on doors. I wanted to see God use me despite my anxiety, weakness, and inexperience with any type of outreach like this. But then my mindset changed. God was able to use me in door knocking. He had given me two full days to turn my weakness into His strength. But the other days He needed me to do something nobody else in that group could do, which was to use media to reach future potential missionaries with the story of surrendering all on a mission trip.

Did I ever overcome my fear of knocking on doors? Not entirely. I’m still nervous just thinking about it and I’m sure when I do it again my heart will still plead with me to drop those Glow tracts right then and run away, so as to avoid a full-blown heart attack. But that’s the detail I want you to notice: “When I do it again.” Because I will do it again. Next time my church goes door knocking, I will be there. Heart attack or not, I know that God will be there to keep it in place, rejection after rejection, but also seed after seed that is planted, even if it seems unlikely. Even if no one seems interested, there will be seeds planted, despite my weakness and fear. If God can use a simple soul like me, what is preventing you from being used by Him too?

Danique Tersmette, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Danique works at Wildwood Health Institute, an Adventist ministry, as a cinematographer, photographer, and copywriter. She is passionate about sharing the gospel through media.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

The Power of an Example

eric Uncategorized Leave a Comment

The GYC Iceland missionary experience has helped me grow spiritually and improved my prayer life tremendously. When I began, I had anxieties about meeting new people in a new country. I didn’t have this problem back home and at other GYC outreach programs in Baltimore, Louisville, and Seattle. But this time things were different. I felt scared of rejection, lost and nervous every time I had to go door-knocking. One day I was blessed to be partnered with a sweet and friendly girl from Philadelphia named Esther Kim. This was a powerful experience for me. Esther taught me to pray more diligently every time we gave out a GLOW tract to a person on the street. We had special prayers before and after knocking on a door. We prayed after we completed a small area and before going to another one. I saw her fearlessly and boldly reaching out to everyone she saw on the street eagerly sharing Jesus with everyone. She did it with urgency in her actions as if this person might not be saved if she didn’t. By looking and learning from her I realized that I acted like a scaredy-cat, putting my strength not in the power of God, but in my own. Jesus was rejected repeatedly by many, but He was never too tired to reach out to every soul. He died on the cross so we could live in spite of our sins. It was an amazing experience, we prayed with many people, we had a lot of them taking the tracts, and we had people asking questions.

The following day I was dropped off in an area on my own. It was quite a big area. I reached a place that seemed like a daycare center or school, but something stopped me. I asked myself whether I should even try to go in. I overcame myself and I went in. To my surprise, a lovely lady took about 100 tracts and said she would share them with others. Later that same day, I went to three more schools or daycare centers where the staff agreed to take the tracts. I gave out about 1000 tracts that day, but most importantly I overcame my fears and let God use me in a mighty way.

Throughout this GYC experience, I have grown through prayer and supplication to become closer to God. I was reunited with like-minded people who share the same mission and I learned from each and every person. I have become bold and ready to continue serving God wherever I am. I’m ready to go to the end until Jesus comes. I praise the Lord for this trip and for those who put it together. I can’t wait to go on another one to see what God can do.

Olga Kyselova, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Olga Kyselova is a public school ESL teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She spent her childhood and young adulthood in Kyiv, Ukraine. When she came to the USA in 2006 she became a follower of Christ and got baptized in Manhattan SDA church in 2010. She wants to be a missionary for Christ anywhere she goes.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

Spiritual Revival through Mission

eric Mission Leave a Comment

My spiritual life has turned around since the GYC Mission trip to Iceland. For a long time, I have been praying for a spiritual revival because I had forgotten how to love God. I forgot about the first love I had for God four years ago when I was converted. During this trip, however, God answered my prayers for a revival experience. Never before have I felt so close to God. I could feel God walking with me to every house I visited. There were times when I would forget about Him and rely on myself but I could tell something was missing.

Countless times, things happened that would seem purely coincidental but they were miracles performed by God. For example, I visited two churches while distributing GLOW tracts in a neighborhood. Both times something tugged on my heart to visit these churches at a specific time (which meant skipping a few houses down and going straight to the church). Usually, these churches are locked or empty but for those two occasions, I ran into someone rushing out of the church, who then took a bunch of GLOW tracts of each kind to be placed at the churches for the local members. On another occasion, I met some people who were connected with my home countries. This common ground caused them to open up to me. One time on our way home after a day of prayer and distributing GLOW tracts, I felt impressed to place these tracts at a bus stop before we made our way to the vehicle that came to pick us up. Doing this meant that I would delay the whole team from their warm dinner and rest, but I was urged by God to do so anyway. While putting up a packet of GLOW tracts on the wall of the bus stop, a young man stopped by and asked what I was doing. After a short, friendly conversation I handed him some GLOW tracts and he suddenly shouted, “Is this about Jesus? Wow! That’s crazy!” He explained that his new boss would not stop talking about Jesus and he was wondering what that was all about! “God must be trying to tell me something,” he said while taking all the different GLOW tracts. After that, we prayed together. There were many other instances where I saw God leading. For example, God stopped someone’s bike from working all of a sudden so I could talk with him. Another time, I met a Christian lady who thanked us for doing this.

With my modern Laodicean mindset, I never expected to see miracles or experience divine appointments, but God proved me wrong. This trip has taught me so many things, from how prayers should never cease to how God is still very real and mighty. To be honest, at first I thought the trip was disorganized because we were not given details of what would be expected but given how prayer-centered and God-focused this trip was, I was proven wrong again. When we surrender everything – I mean really everything – to God, He will allow amazing things to happen.

Esther Kim, USA
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019

Esther Kim is a senior student at Bryn Mawr College, PA, studying Psychology. She spent her early childhood in South Korea and has moved around from Singapore to the USA. She is excited to see where God will take her next.

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org

Island of Hope

blogmanager Devotional Leave a Comment

On an island off the coast of Belize, God finally found me. I was the lost sheep that the Shepherd left ninety-nine other sheep to find (see Matthew 18:12). Only instead of being an innocent lamb, I was a happily ignorant human in a life focused on the next adventure.

I was in the process of settling permanently in Colorado when I got hit with an undeniable gut conviction to halt and reassess. I seemed to have it all—the rugged outdoor guy, the dream job, the endless extreme adventures—but it was time to choose between that life, and God. I turned down the job, said goodbye to the guy, to the extreme adventures that defined my life, and returned to my Tennessee hometown.

Still in a daze, I took an unplanned vacation to Belize with two friends. After eight days of blissful travels, dread about my future surfaced and finally boiled over. Walking down the sandy beach road on the island of Caye Caulker, a heaviness settled over my soul. Burdened with a sudden desire for solitude, I slipped away into the stillness of a tropical night.

As I walked down the beach, calypso music and town lights faded. A bold Belizean moon reflected the white foam of waves lapping against a narrow sea wall of crumbling concrete that jutted out and disappeared into the dark swells. Gingerly taking steps, I followed it to the end and sat under the weight of my regrets.

I had given up what seemed like every good thing in my life. And what was it for? Instead of moving forward into a successful and exciting future, I was returning to the  hometown I’d spent so long trying to escape. I loved the place of my birth, but it felt symbolic of starting over at the bottom of a mountain while everyone else was halfway up. Besides the pride-humbling necessity of moving back in with my parents while I waited for God’s leading, the circle would be complete when I returned to a job in the hospital where I was born.

Stars hung low in a sky that reflected midnight waters.  I looked up, knowing God was somewhere in the big expanse while I sat there feeling quite small. Was He tired of constantly redirecting me? Had it really been His Spirit leading or was it just another one of my poorly planned life decisions? I felt like a useless and wayward child, endlessly trying and failing to do the right thing.

If it really was His guidance that had changed my heart, then why was I suffering for it? Those in the life I had left behind were prospering in their continued ignorance. I chose God, and yet it looked to the world as though I was choosing failure. I felt a surge of frustration and despair. I was angry that I couldn’t feel His presence.

Pleading up to the night sky, I said, “I know You’re up there, but do You really care about me? I did what You asked and yet here I am, once again, with nothing. I know I’m the least of all Your creatures and that my problems are insignificant, but I can’t see where I’m going next and I feel like I’m struggling alone.”

Emptied of words and energy, I sat with shoulders slumped and arms wrapped around my knees. I couldn’t shake the heaviness. With the dark sea around me, I clung to my island of despair.

A movement startled my reverie and I turned to see a stray dog sitting calmly by my right side. Motionless, he gazed up at my eyes with a strange serenity. His scruffy fur of black and white splotches gave him the appearance my dog back home. Overwhelmed by a sense of something beyond explanation, the hardness in my heart released, and I began to sob.

Filthy though the dog was, I stroked his ratty fur and was comforted. Unspoken words from above seemed to say: Don’t worry, I’m here. You’re not alone. I know you want something to happen right now, but just wait. I didn’t forget you. I have a plan for your life.

I sat on the jetty petting my pooch pal as time sunk away, letting peace pour over me. The sinking weight lifted, and I felt like I was floating peacefully on the sea with stars wrapped around me in a heavenly embrace. Ready to face my unknown new chapter with a calm trust, I finally made my way back to shore. The faithful Caribbean canine followed me to the edge of town and then disappeared down a side street, gone as silently as he had arrived.

God’s approach in reaching my desolate heart that night was so gentle and familiar that I began to see Him for who He really is—the most loving and tender Father. He didn’t show up in a blazing light or speak in a loud voice. He sent comfort I could recognize.

When He sought me in my own space, a permanent inward change came over me. I gained a deeper trust and ability to wait in faith, even without visible evidence of His working (see Hebrews 11:1). I learned to move forward as He showed me one step at a time, even when things didn’t make sense according to human reasoning (see Isaiah 55:9).

That January night in 2016 was only the beginning of my journey. After my major life turnaround, the challenges only seemed to increase. The enemy was a sore loser.  Thankfully, Christ was true to His promise in John 16:33, which says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (NKJV).

My newfound faith and trust would soon be put to the test. While on a mission trip with four other young adults to the remote Alaskan island of St. Lawrence, I observed something: my companions had clearly fostered their spiritual gifts for ministry, where mine were lying dormant and unnurtured. They had even managed to balance outdoor adventure and world travel while making God and ministry their top priority.

I should have been inspired, but instead returned feeling frustrated and full of envy. I remembered God’s comfort in Belize and recognized that even with my imperfections, God could finally start using me in ministry now that I was following His lead, but I felt so far behind. I knew God had plans to give me a hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11), but I would need to surrender my own plans, desires, and stubborn independence in the process.

A seed planted in Alaska helped God draw me into a supportive church family where my spiritual gifts began to bud and blossom. I observed people who consistently followed their beliefs and lived “set apart” (see Psalms 4:3), while still maintaining a welcoming and nonjudgmental spirit. It created a spiritual accountability network that I hadn’t experienced in a church before.

Through that network, God led me to a seminar where I learned to pray more effective and Holy Spirit-filled prayers. As I put this into practice, I began to recognize God’s leading very quickly, but I wasn’t prepared for how much He was waiting to do when I was ready.

He showed me where I needed to more boldly ask Him for help with things that were crushing my spirit, the most remarkable of which was a whopping $137,000 of outstanding student loan debt. With a 6.7% interest rate on a single income, it was like a prison with no doors.

I was driving along on an August day in 2017 and praying to God about my suffocating debt, when I received a clear impression that He would wipe it out within three years. I accepted it—but didn’t see how it was possible. Over the next year, every time I would try to fulfill His promise by my own efforts, God would take away my peace until I relented to His reminders that only by decreasing my efforts could He increase and receive glory (John 3:30).

A flame of hope sparked when an anonymous donor paid off $30,000 of my student debt in June 2018. But the flame died out as the remaining $107,000 continued to steal my pennies and my peace. I gained a sense of what Joseph must have felt when he saw his opportunity to get out of jail, only to remain imprisoned for another two years (see Genesis Chapters 40, 41). Despite this, I followed God’s direction to demonstrate my faith in His endless resources by paying tithe on my gross income, instead of on the after-tax net.

At lunchtime on October 10, 2018, I was sitting in my car outside the hospital where I worked. I had just completed reading an inspired compilation on recognizing God’s leading, when conviction struck. I saw that going into debt for my physical therapy Doctorate was never God’s leading (see Proverbs 14:12) and that it was also unbiblical (Romans 13:80). He had not opened the circumstances financially or given me peace at the time, yet I had pressed forward. I confessed that I was to blame for my circumstances. I had always placed blame for my circumstances on everything and everyone else, except myself.

That evening I drove home in tears of self-loathing. I was tempted to complain that God had forgotten His promise to me and that I didn’t deserve it anyway, when a verse popped up on my phone. It read, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalms 116:1, 2, NIV).

Though my tears continued, I resisted the urge to complain. Instead, I began to praise God in faith by acknowledging aloud that I trusted Him to fulfill what He had promised (see Psalms 105:19). Twenty minutes later, I received word that the anonymous donor couldn’t find peace until they decided to pay off my remaining student debt. God had fulfilled His promise in half the time.

While this miracle became a testimony to people in the church, it also reached an entire hospital full of my non-Seventh-day Adventist coworkers as they watched events unfold. I had been open with them over the previous year that I sensed a calling away from physical therapy, and that only my student loan debt was keeping me there. Many of them had in turn begun to divulge their own career or spiritual struggles.

Exactly three weeks before the end of 2018, I came across bible texts about Daniel’s twenty-one days of fasting (see Daniel 10:2, 3). I was impressed to cut out unhealthy foods and to pray with a partner every night for three weeks over the future of my career. It wasn’t easy or convenient.

At the end of the twenty-one days, I was in the Great Smoky Mountains with friends for New Year’s Eve. Nothing happened. I drove home solo at sunrise back from the Smokies to work my New Year’s shift, and though disappointed, I began praying words of faith that God would still lead in His own time.

A sudden peaceful conviction came over me that I was to quit my job. I asked, “Really Lord? That doesn’t make sense. I don’t have anything else lined up or any money saved. Shouldn’t I save up first?”

The more I drove and prayed for confirmation, the more a peaceful conviction filled me. That night, I typed up a notice with January 22 set as my last day. Even with Hebrews Chapter 11 as encouragement, stepping out in faith without a safety net was incredibly scary. I could never have done it without the assurance that it was God’s will.

Over the next three weeks, God created so many opportunities for ministering to my coworkers that I was almost overwhelmed, but seeing God work powerfully filled me with boldness. Knowing how unworthy and spiritually unlearned I was, it gave me hope that He could do anything for and through anyone, if only they would surrender to Him.

I began to recognize how many people God wanted to have witness what He was about to do next, and I feared my own weakness. Would I be able to hold on, even if financial circumstances became desperate? In the past, He usually waited until conditions were nearly unbearable before opening a window. I prayed that I wouldn’t ruin His testimony by running back to my secure career if times got tough.

I think God delights in surprising us though, and I was certainly surprised when exactly one week after my job ended, another job dropped directly into my lap through a volunteer church position. Even more significant was that it was in writing and communications—an area far from my formal training but in the very field where I had told people I sensed God calling me.

In the months prior, I had applied and been turned down for countless communications jobs, and even a missionary career. It was only when I followed the Spirit’s guidance to step out in faith, without money saved or a job offer, that God opened the door. Perhaps only through impossible circumstances could He receive the glory.

This is just my story, though. Some people God allows to prosper while others He asks to set aside stability. The key is in trusting Him enough to know that wherever He places us is for our own good and for the good of others. This present Earth is only a fading battlefield anyway. I look forward to “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NKJV, abbr.).

Those things He asks us to give up, He will replace with things we didn’t even know we needed. If we hold onto God’s promises with the expectant faith of a child, while relinquishing our own desires, He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV).

In the end, giving up the money, the man, and the mountains, really wasn’t that much for Him to ask of me. God’s reassurance on the Caribbean Sea did not create fruitless hope. He was working behind the scenes all along. Only by stopping my struggle against Him was He able to fulfill this promise: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalms 37:4, NKJV).

His desires became my desires, and instead of requiring me to give up happiness and adventure, I now echo David when He said to God, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11, NKJV).


Olivia Hale works as an author advisor assistant at TEACH Services, in Georgia. Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, she has lived everywhere from Thailand to Hawaii. You can read more about her travel and outdoor adventures with God at: https://olivadventure.wixsite.com/travelwritingblog.

Melting Iceland – A New Approach to Missions

eric Uncategorized Leave a Comment

For decades, mission has been viewed as a largely human endeavor with three simple ingredients: come up with a plan, enter a target country, and then execute the plan.

But what would mission look like as a primarily divine endeavor?

What would it look like to do something so simple and yet so full of faith and trust in God that it might seem radical and insane?

This is exactly what the GYC mission to Iceland this August was all about. 

GYC’s mission to Iceland was conceived two years ago as a crazy idea among those of us on the GYC Executive Committee. We had all seen people reach small towns and even cities through literature programs and public evangelism. Still, we asked the question: if we could do anything for God, what might we attempt to do? A town or city seemed like an achievable goal. But why not try to reach a whole country? As we further discussed our crazy idea, Iceland soon stood out as a country that could conceivably be reached by a group of 50-100 people.

As the planning began to take shape and focus on Iceland though, I didn’t like the idea at all. Iceland is a country sometimes associated with a secular, humanistic culture and a very small Adventist presence. In my mind, it made more business sense to build success into the equation by selecting a country that would be more receptive and open or at least one with a strong Adventist presence that could provide plenty of enthusiastic support. Attempting to reach the country of Iceland felt like a setup for failure.

Despite my reservations, planning went ahead! By this point, we decided that approaching this mission trip with a traditional goal of distributing flyers and conducting public evangelism might not be the most effective use of our time and energy. But although we knew what we wouldn’t do, we weren’t sure what we would do. After all, the people of Iceland don’t appear to have many needs – the standard of living is high and services like healthcare are freely available.

This is when I believe God struck us with a simple, yet profound idea. We would just go to pray. Person by person, street by street, town by town.

The mission trip was now only a few months away and by this time those of us who were going needed to start organizing flights. The problem was, I didn’t covet the work I knew it would take even though I had said I would go. The difficult process of applying for a Schengen visa was not encouraging. As a South African citizen, this required a lot of work too. When I discovered that the consulate I needed to go to for the visa interview was completely booked out, I was a little relieved, yet conflicted. With some reluctance and a sense of obligation, I prayed God would make an opening for me if He saw fit. Actually, I told Him I would only go if an appointment became available within the next three days.

First day: nothing. 
Second day: nothing. 
Third day: nothing.

Phew! What a relief. 

And then, right before I went to bed that night, God impressed me to check one last time. With even greater reluctance than before, I pulled up the page for the consulate and there it was: a dreaded green availability slot… for the very next business day. 

I wasn’t thrilled, but I knew that since God had clearly set me up here there was no point following in Jonah’s footsteps. So I planned for the best and God began the miracles!

The day finally arrived for the mission trip to begin. No sooner had we landed in Iceland and we discovered that we were over capacity for the building our team of about 50 people was supposed to stay in. As quickly as the problem arose it was resolved. As it turned out, another large group of people who had made a reservation long before had failed to show up and a second building on the campus we were staying at was available. From our perspective, God literally caused an entire group of people to vanish and not show up just so we could use the needed space for our missionaries. Wow! With God working overtime so soon into the mission trip I was really glad I hadn’t stayed behind.
Over the next few days, there were numerous difficult circumstances that God resolved for us in direct answer to prayer. Each day, we would come together in the morning and evening for up to an hour of united prayer. Though these times, God drew us together in a way that we had never experienced before. But the power of prayer became especially apparent to all of us as we began to go out into the community. Although many stories could be shared from the 10 days of the mission trip, I have selected a couple of experiences from our team members.

Eden Carr

“I came into the trip exhausted from three weeks of intense summer camp. I already knew that if I was going to survive and get anything done, I would need help from a higher place. To get anywhere, I had to ask God for strength, for words to say. God always came through. He gave me strength when I was at my weakest. He healed me when I was in pain. He brought people to me to give me a smile, and I knew that He was there.

Praying & Walking Door to Door
[One day] I was knocking on doors with another girl in our group. We were nearing the end of our last territory, and it was my turn to knock. A lady answered the door, so I shared my quick, little line: ‘Hi! My name is Eden and this is my friend Brittney! We’re with GLOW Iceland. We are Christians that believe in the power of prayer, and we’re wondering if you have any prayer requests that you would like us to pray for?’ The lady looked happy and called her son to join her. ‘Tell him what you told me!’ The lady, Barbara, asked. So I repeated who we are and what we were doing. Her son shared a personal prayer request and then we prayed for him. After we prayed, Barbara shared that her husband is a Christian pastor. He soon joined us at the front door and asked us who we are with. Upon sharing, he told us that he has a Seventh-day Adventist uncle. The whole family was very excited about what we were doing! ‘We’ve been praying for revival in Iceland!’ he told us. It thrilled my heart! That is exactly why we were there! To pray for revival! What a blessing to know that our work was not in vain. Other Christians in the country are praying for the same thing we are!”

Joreper Alatiit

“I was in a spiritual crisis before this trip. No one in my family goes to church anymore and it sometimes annoyed me that they would tell me to go on a mission trip to help my spirituality as if they had a good spiritual life of their own. One day I was browsing on social media when I saw a story about a mission trip opportunity in Iceland: the number one place on my bucket list. It sparked my interest because it was like hitting two birds with one stone. I could go on a mission trip like my family always wanted me to and it would be at the destination of my dreams!

Once the mission trip began, however, I began to regret that I was there. Listening to the testimonies of others made me feel worse. Why couldn’t I be as good as them? Some nights I just sulked and wanted to give up. One morning, however, Jonathan Walter talked about how we shouldn’t be discouraged if others are good at outreach and we are not because we were all called to Iceland for a reason. Of all the people who could have gone, we were chosen. That day I felt positive and even began singing ‘Walking with Jesus.’ Everything was just like previous days until I was dropped off at my last territory. It consisted of huge apartment-looking buildings. After distributing glow at the first big apartment complex, I moved to the next one which accounted for almost 30% of my total territory. It didn’t look like an apartment on the inside but instead seemed to be a hospital. I didn’t know how to reach the people there but I was bothered by the thought of skipping such a large building. 

As I considered what to do, I went to the next apartment building and met a man in the parking lot. We talked for a bit but he wasn’t interested in prayer. However, he pointed at a woman who was just leaving the apartment building and said: ‘that woman might need your prayers.’ I immediately went up to her and began a conversation. She shared that her sister had recently died and she was struggling to recover from her loss. I prayed for her and continued to talk only to discover that she was also an Adventist! She wanted to help me with what I was doing so I asked her to help me share GLOW in the large nursing facility. With her help, I was able to get permission from the staff to talk with the patients and share my testimony with them as well as leave GLOW tracts on bulletin boards and activity corners. I’m not sure what plans God has for that nursing facility but I am still praying for them to this day. I hope my visit will make a change in the patients’ lives and their outlook towards God.”

These are just two of the many stories that were shared by our team members. I wish I could say I began this trip out of love and a passion for the lost. In reality, I did it because I knew God would use it to melt my indifference.

Maps highlighted to keep track of progress.

By the time the 10 days were up, 150,000 glow tracts had been distributed and our group of nearly 50 had reached over half the population of the country of Iceland. With few exceptions, nearly every home, apartment, and person in Reykjavik and the surrounding cities were offered prayer personally or else received a glow tract if they were not home. We encircled every area we walked in prayer, pleading for God to bring revival and Christian growth to Iceland, and we know the best is yet to come. 

What does success look like when you go to do something as utterly radical as praying for a country person by person, street by street, town by town, no strings attached? What does it look like when you literally leave the results with God? For Iceland, only time and the progression of history’s story will tell, but for those of us who went, life will never be the same again.

We are thankful to the Iceland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Trans European Division for dedicating their personal and financial support throughout this trip. Please keep them in prayer as they continue the work in Iceland. We know God has incredible things in store!  

Eric Louw
VP of Communications, GYC

For additional testimonies and stories to come from this trip and others, be sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.

To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org