There are times when you land in a foreign country, heart aflame with the gospel and ready to go forth spreading the good news, and things don’t go quite as planned. You try to prepare for unexpected circumstances and hindrances to your sharing, but you still have no idea what to expect and are often surprised by both the barriers and the ways God chooses to work.
Will Green, a high school graduating senior at Brook Hills, experienced this on a short-term trip to Cuba last year with our Student Ministry.
“I can’t imagine my time in Student Ministry without remembering the mission trips I was able to take,” Will says. “Our trip to Cuba stands out because it was nothing like what I expected.”
Will shares that the team arrived safely, but as sometimes happens, some unforeseen changes in their circumstances required some adjustment and flexibility in their plans for the rest of the trip. They couldn’t have anticipated how God would use the challenges they faced there.
“So that first day,” Will explains, as they found themselves in Havana, “Our Student Minister, Mark Sly, decided we should start by prayer walking around the city.”
Will and his friend, Brayden Blythe, walked and prayed, then decided to look for a souvenir in shops around the city. They visited several shops without success. No one spoke English. Finally, they walked into one shop with an English-speaking shop owner.
“In the middle of nowhere Havana,” Will says, “we talked with Lenneir, the shop owner, for probably an hour. We got to hear his story and share the gospel with him. We heard his thoughts about God and the struggles he had. We learned he had a wife from Pennsylvania – they’d met when her cruise ship came through, fell in love, and got married. She still lived in the U.S., and he was trying to obtain his citizenship. So we were able to pray for him for that.
“In the midst of us wondering why we were there, and in the chaos of everything, it was just crazy to see God show up. He still had a plan – even if it was just for us to meet and share the gospel with Lenneir and his wife. To this day, we still keep in touch. In that, I think God has prepared and shown me to not give up on Him – to know that He can work through me in ways I would never expect. God showed us His power in the little things during that trip.”
Will says he’s seen a theme this year in how God has been preparing him for his future and refining him in his walk with Christ – on mission trips and in Student Ministry as well as in school and work.
Working at a Chick-fil-a located near a bus stop, Will sees and meets a lot of interesting people. Many people who are homeless will come by and sweep the parking lot for a bite to eat.
“One man in particular, I see a lot. His name is Tyrone. I have been blessed to be able to have a lot of good conversations with Tyrone, just getting to know him as a person. One day, he was talking about his homelessness and told me that once he gets back on his feet and can sustain himself, he can start being a witness for Christ. I felt like God was talking to me right there. I was able to share with him that there’s no point where Christ can’t use us. Even in our lowest moments, Christ reminded me that we can always be a witness for Him. He is able and ready and longing to use us for His glory.”
In both of these experiences – sharing the gospel overseas and here at home – Will says:
“I really saw a theme of God showing me His wisdom and power and not to doubt Him. So, in looking toward college, I know He was reminding me that there’s no place or point in my life that’s outside of His reach. Whatever may happen or could happen, Christ is always present and will always be there for me. And He’s been showing me ways to be intentional in my friendships, even in attending a Christian school, to ask deeper questions and take the time to find out what they truly believe.”
Will’s involvement in Student Ministry at Brook Hills has profoundly impacted and encouraged him. He especially emphasizes how being plugged into a small group provides accountability, growth, fun, and lasting friendships.
“I love the Student Ministry because they intentionally push you out of your comfort zone into things that are very challenging. They really want you to grow in your relationship with Christ.”
As a word of encouragement for other students, Will adds:
“I would just say to utilize the time God’s given you in high school. Know that you’re never too young or not prepared enough for God to use you. He can use anyone. Just like God can use Tyrone, Lenneir, and anyone else who may feel like they’re not worthy. You’re never too young to get involved, to lead a small group, to go on a mission trip. God has blessed this church with the funds to help students go on mission for half the cost, and that is awesome. That is rare. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a spring break or summer to serve on a mission trip. Don’t be afraid to be pushed outside of your comfort zone – it’s not always pleasant, but looking back, it’s always so rewarding to see how God worked in those moments.”
Will Green and his family have been part of the faith family at Brook Hills since 2005. He has served in Student Ministry as a small group leader since 10th grade and served on mission trips throughout high school. Will plans to attend Samford in the fall and major in marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship.