We are excited to announce the 4 organizations with whom we will be partnering with this summer: YFC Guatemala, YWAM Taiwan, YFC Hong Kong, and YFC Singapore. Please join is in prayer as we prepare for the great work which God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
The staff at YFC Guatemala seeks to reach 10,000 young people with the gospel every year through the G-21 initiative; a network of churches and ministries that disciple youth who respond to the gospel. CTI plays a central role in this initiative by bringing exposure to YFC through a nationwide appearance schedule in schools, churches and public places. The National Day of Prayer is an annual event coordinated by YFC here, and it serves as a rallying point for their ministry. CTI plays a role in this event each year, building on a partnership with YFC in Guatemala dating back to 1996.
Reaching youth with the gospel can take many years in Taiwanese culture. YWAM builds long-term relationships with students here through a coffee shop ministry known as “The Rock.”
CTI teams connect kids with YWAM through evening coffeehouse concerts and conversational evangelism with students who are eager to practice their English on Americans. During the days, teams minister in hospitals, schools, and through open-air concerts on the bustling streets and wharfs of Taipei.
YFC Hong Kong
In addition to a packed appearance schedule in the malls, streets, parks and churches of Hong Kong, our teams also minister in the public schools here, giving YFC opportunities to present the gospel that wouldn’t be possible without our team’s presence. CTI also plays a crucial role in YFC’s unique outreach to the elderly; a people group that is tragically neglected by this busy society. YFC provides basic needs and opportunities for significance by involving them in our team’s events. The gospel isn’t just heard here – it is experienced.
The YFC chapter in Singapore uses CTI teams to connect with the young people of their country through music that is exciting and recognizable to Singaporean youth. YFC has established CTI as a “friendly band that sings meaningful songs,” and carefully crafts our programs using specific themes that are relevant to their students. This approach has created a large fan base that attracts many young people to CTI concerts in Singapore. As a result, our partners have significant opportunities for evangelism and discipleship both inside and outside the public school system.
Long hours have been spent preparing musically, logistically, and spiritually. Each team has learned new music in the native language of their partner country. They have also spent time refining their testimonies for sharing through a translator. Now the week culminates with flight packing and an evening commissioning service.
(There are a lot of posts that have been put up on the site chronicling the Round 2 team's debriefing day. There's posts about each team's oral debriefing, when a lot of the staff members were able to enjoy hearing stories from teams Guatemala, Singapore, and Honduras. In addition, there's a post that highlights the rapid fire bits of encouragement each team member had for the new fulltime teams. It should be noted that there is no way these posts could fully relay all that the teams shared, much less all that God did in the lives of the team members, but we have an opportunity to be faithful with what we've been given. I hope you enjoy this post [and the many others throughout the site] as much as I enjoyed being a part of this work.)
Perhaps the most emotional part of the day of debriefing for summer teams is their final concert. With only hours left as sovereign teams, they take the stage one last time to have fun, rock out, and, most importantly, share from their experience some of the truths God has showed them. Much like the summer teams before them, they will also use this concert as a means of passing the torch onto the next group of teams. In this case, the new teams are this year's fulltime teams (CTI 14:21 and CTI 14:22). There is something to be said for ending well. Part of what that involves here at CTI is showcasing the experiences we've had in such a way that it directs all the glory to the One who is truly worthy of it. Furthermore, as the new teams look on, we do everything we can to encourage them using those experiences to highlight God's unending faithfulness. So, with all of that said, allow me to walk you through the Round 2 Final Concert...
Team Guatemala opened the night and kept things upbeat to start. During their set, Victor, the team's sound tech, shared a bit of the faith journey that has been his life for the past two months. He talked about how going into this experience he was very unsure of himself and his faith. He struggled with a lot of questions and didn't feel like God was near Him. Consequently, he began to have a lot of doubts. It's hard for him to pinpoint an exact moment, but throughout training and while overseas he noticed something changed. As Victor put it, he didn't really get answers. Rather, God changed his heart while he was in Guatemala. His faith was saved through this. The excitement on his face only amplified his message as he closed by pointing out that though we come looking to serve and minister to those around us, we will find that a lot of the time we are served and ministered to. As we go forward, we must keep that in mind so that we can be aware to how God is working in us through the experience and the people we meet. He truly is capable of so much more than we could ever imagine
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Following Team Guatemala was Team Honduras. They kept their portion very upbeat as well as the team shared how they experienced the love of God through the people in Honduras and how they learned that God is enough, in every circumstance (Philippians 4:12-13). In particular, Matt shared a story about how he struggled with the work they were doing. His expectation of seeing a lot of people come to believe and recieve Jesus didn't come to fruition. Because of this, he began to think that his team was failing at the Great Commission. One night after a concert, a young man came up to Matt and began talking to him. Through a translator, he learned that this man was driving home from work and, upon hearing the music, decided to stop and see what was happening. As it turns out, this man, Ricardo, was a new Christian and he wanted them to know that he was very encouraged through what they shared that night. In particular, he was encouraged by the fact that God continues to take us back even though we keep stumbling. Through all of this, Matt realized how much higher and better the LORD's plans are than ours. His encouragement to the new fulltime teams was this: don't be discouraged when your expectations don't follow through. What God is doing is far greater.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
Finally, Team Singapore took the stage to close out the night. They did everything they could to amplify the fact that all that we do is for God's glory. Chris shared about how the team was faced with ministry that didn't look like they anticipated it would and Jenna pointed out times the team was uncomfortable in what they were being asked to do. What the team began to realize was that their discomfort didn't matter and that everything they did was to be done to further give glory to God. During the last half of their set the team presented the Gospel, using everything their musical and mental abilities could muster to proclaim what God has done to redeem His creation. Micaela pointed out that without Christ, we are nothing and have no hope. We are completely dependent upon Him for everything we have or could hope for. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed and now have a right standing with God. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 points this out in that those who have been redeemed should not live for themselves, but for the One who redeemed them. We have been made right with God, by God. This is nothing we were able to do, it is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). We had no hope or ability to fix our problem. No, this was all God's doing through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Following that thought, the team closed with 4 passages back to back:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes...
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
--1 John 4:10
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
If this message is true, and we profess that it is, it is the most imporant message that can ever be shared. In fact, the nature of this message makes it so important, we can't afford to hold it in. Allow me to write those verses out again, this time without any sort of pause: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
One last note about this message: If you are someone who is wrestling with all of this and wondering about this wonder that we call the Gospel, hear this--from the beginning, God had it in mind to redeem His creation. He did this, not for us, but the sake of His name and His glory. Our struggle is that we have this void that nothing in this world can fill because we are separated from God, the only One who can truly satisfy. To heal that separation, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word, to be a light in the darkness that is this world, so that those who did believe in and recieve Him could be called children of God (John 1:1-14). This was a promise He made long ago, and our God keeps His promises. He loves you with a love that is truly unconditional. There is nothing you can do that can cause Him to love you more or less. For our biggest problem is and always has been that we are separated from God. Well, no longer. Now we have been made right with God and because of Jesus's sacrifice, His death on a cross and resurrection, we can approach God with all we need and know we will not be turned away (Hebrews 4:14-16). Everything has been done that was needed. All that we must do now is accept that gift...do that. Once you belong to Him, absolutely nothing can separate you again from His love.
"...you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the LORD. "You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God--there never has been, and there never will be. I, yes I, am the LORD, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign God has ever done this. You are witnesses that I am the only God," says the LORD. "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done."
All hail Redeemer, hail, for He has died for me. His grace and glory shall not fail, throughout eternity...