God Uses It All
By Scott Shin
God uses all of our experiences in ways we can’t predict or even imagine—especially the ones that don’t make sense to us when they happen. I learned a lot about this principle through the process of building a mission team for Berlin. Through that experience, all my preconceived notions of how to build a team, train a team, and even execute mission objectives, were blown away.
My mission team would be given the task of helping to run a summer vacation bible school (VBS) program for the kids at Saddleback Berlin. When I first heard this idea, I immediately thought that I needed to recruit teachers, children’s ministry volunteers, and a pediatric nurse. I actually knew several such people, so recruiting them seemed to be the most logical route to pursue. As we approached our trip date, the teachers and nurses I had recruited began to de-commit, and it became apparent that instead God was going to send a group of artists to finish the task. While I liked having a few artists on the team, it seemed impractical to have a team of only artists. What in the world was God thinking?
With just months left to go, we had three artists and a team leader with no experience in children’s ministry. Furthermore, we were nowhere near our targeted budget for the trip. During one of our team meetings, I brought up the topic of our budget shortfall. I asked the team how we were doing with raising support. We were still over $7,000 short. The two young ladies – Julie Artemov and Katherine Takaoka – reminded me that they were not worried, as they were certain God would provide. That’s what we’re supposed to say, but let’s get real, I cynically thought to myself. Working against my fears, I smiled in agreement on the outside, while on the inside, my mind was spinning a tornado of worry. After praying over the issue, God gave all of us peace about funding, and we decided not to worry. Of course, God miraculously provided all the funds we needed in the final hour. Those teachers and nurses who were originally on our team but could not go with us, ended up supporting us financially and many other supporters came out of the woodwork to contribute to our team as well.
Despite getting over budget worries, I still had a nagging fear. Though Katherine was 24-years-old and appeared perfectly healthy, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Her rheumatologist warned that Katherine’s condition was degenerative and that Katherine could end up in a wheelchair by the age for 40. Would she be able to keep up with the demands of the trip? We’d be using public transportation and need to walk for miles practically every day of our trip. I had my doubts. Yet Katherine believed without a doubt that God would heal her in the weeks leading up to the trip. Every ounce of my logical mind wanted to mitigate Katherine’s disappointment should this not happen, by preparing her for the worst. But something inside kept telling me that God would provide, and we continued to pray that Katherine would be healed.
Through the process of praying for Katherine, we were able to recruit a community of prayer warriors who became our prayer team for the entire duration of the trip. As a result of those prayers along with her persistent faith in God, Katherine showed no signs of inflammation and had the most energy of anyone on our team when we arrived in Berlin. While in Berlin, she was a very integral part of constructing sets for a magical, pirate-themed world for the children. She was also the brains behind the children’s arts and crafts activities. Once the VBS was underway, it became so obvious that artists were needed for the task. God indeed had assembled the perfect team.
While God used our team to serve Saddleback Berlin, we would receive many blessings in return. Apart from all the love and appreciation we received from the children, parents, and community, both Katherine and Julie would return home to find jobs that involved working with children—jobs that were not really on their radar prior to joining the team. The VBS equipped our team with relevant skills and experience that we would need at home. There’s no way any of us could have guessed or imagined how God would end up using those experiences from the Berlin mission trip.