So, you’re going on outreach. The outreach portion of a Discipleship Training School is probably the part every student looks forward to the most. It was definitely the part I was most excited for! I wish I could tell you outreach will be a breeze, but like anything that’s worth doing, there will always be challenges and hardships. We will all have different difficulties on our outreaches and we are all going to handle those challenges in different ways. Even though bathing conditions were not ideal and ministry was hard at times, my biggest challenge was actually my team. 


Very early on it was clear that things were not good on my team. Everyone had different ideas as to how we should spend our time or do ministry and none of us were good at communication. Having a difference of options is not bad, but how we acted towards one another is what made things difficult. Instead of working towards better communication and compromise, we seemed to grow more and more apart. Our team was not a team. I cannot stress it enough, outreach is not about you. In order for your outreach to be successful it takes the whole team working together and everyone doing their part. Because none of us were willing to do so, our lack of unity began affecting our ministry and made it hard to plan anything.


It was easy to place blame on others, but the reality is I also had a role in our disunity. We are all responsible for the way we respond and I chose to live with a response of bitterness and offense. I started looking at the outreach as though it was me against my fellow students. The irony of it all is that I was in Thailand to show the love of Jesus, yet, I wasn’t showing His love to my teammates. It can be easier to be a part of the problem instead of the solution, because being a part of the solution requires us to die to a lot. But, you can only get so far on your own, and doing life as a believer is not about doing it on your own. 


As the outreach progressed and ministry seemed to get harder and harder I was at a crossroads: hang on to my hurt or love my teammates. In a moment the Lord confronted me about the role I had played in our team’s disunity. I was reminded of something one of my school leaders often said. He always encouraged us to do something nice for the person who has hurt you or offended you. In doing something nice for them it becomes impossible to stay mad at them. To be honest, it was hard for me to want to do nice things for some of my teammates, but I decided to start responding in love towards them anyway.


I woke up extra early to pray for my team, asking God to show me his heart for each of them and blessing them. I started making more time to talk with them and check on them, and made it a point to encourage each of them everyday. I would offer to pay for their smoothie or buy them chocolate- after all chocolate is gold on outreach. And instead of getting offended at them, I chose to listen to them and love them. You’d be amazed at what happens in your heart when you start praying for someone. The more I prayed for them, the more I chose to serve them, and the more love I felt for them in my heart. Our team still had a lot of struggles, and things certainly could’ve gone better. But even though a lot of things might not have changed, my heart did. And I received one of the greatest lessons God has given me. 


It’s so important for us to walk in love towards our teammates not just for the sake of unity, but because God has called us to love one another just as He has loved us. And while we were still sinners, unworthy of being loved, Jesus died for us. If we are going to go to the nations, to a lost and broken people, and reveal the love of Jesus we must make sure we are revealing it to our team members first. We cannot love the people we are ministering to when we don’t even love the people we are serving with. As for the people on your team, well, you can’t get rid of them. You are spending every day of your outreach with them, and if you don’t walk in forgiveness, it will be hard to avoid the tension. 


Loving people is a challenge, and it can be even more challenging when you are on outreach. But I can assure you, it’s so worth it. All of the other challenges you face while on outreach, the bugs and the hiking and toilets and anything else you can imagine, they’ll be so much easier to face when you have people you love to go through them with you. 


Written by Katie Floyd