My Experience at GSP
By Anesu (2018 GSP Participant)
I can boldly say that GSP was one of the most life changing experiences for me.
Before coming to GSP, I was in a very difficult season of my life. I call it my “dying season.” I remember the feelings I had when climbing onto the plane. My heart was pounding, I was nervous, scared and confused. I remember crying on the plane, so unsure whether I would survive eight weeks in a completely different place. I didn’t know what to expect. I also didn’t know that I was stepping into an experience that would change the way I viewed God and life forever.
So many amazing things happened during GSP and just as expected, there were a few difficult moments as well.
One of the amazing things was that I got the opportunity to meet so many different people with many different cultures. All of the people were open and very welcoming and they really showed me what love is. I made really good friends, people that I could see in my bridal team one day. I wasn’t expecting to get that close to people over those weeks but GSP forced me to get out of my comfort zone and connect. It forced me to show grace and learn how to forgive and accept people for who they were. I also felt like being in this environment pushed me to be the most authentic version of myself, flaws and all.
I volunteered in the housekeeping department. It was a very humbling experience and I learnt so many new skills that I hadn’t known before. From learning how to fold hospital corners, inspect rooms and how to fold towels into ducks. I also managed to get a daily work out in being part of the “housemen” (the people that collected all the big dirty bundles and offloaded all of the clean bundles in each closet). I learnt so much about how lodges are run, how to clean and make beds properly and a lot about hospitality. It was difficult and tiring, but I can say that if I ever got the chance to do GSP again, I would choose to be part of the housekeeping team, without a doubt.
A few challenges that I experienced: During the program I was dealing with understanding the purpose of suffering and why we should have to go through it for the glory of God. I struggled with this concept when studying 1 Peter. I understood that suffering was guaranteed, but there were nights when I would weep because of the pain and suffering that people I know (including myself) have experienced and how that pain has had a ripple effect on their lives.
Some people that I wept over were people that I connected with during GSP who had been vulnerable with me about their life stories. Hearing David Lyons’ story “Don’t Waste Your Pain” and reading his book changed my perspective of suffering and of Gods role in the pain we experience. I also met Michael (who was part of the GSP group) who changed my life with regards to this. He had a very difficult life story and after being through all that he experienced, he could stand with confidence and say that God is good and that God is faithful. He had a deep sense of conviction about who God was and that was developed through his suffering. That ultimately gave me strength to believe that God is sovereign over all things. If Michael could get past/through his pain and still say God is faithful, I knew that I could too.
God showed me his faithfulness through this program as well. He showed me how big and how sovereign he is through a particular woman I met in the event services department. From the day I met her, I had this deep sense of heaviness and pain in my soul. I would want to cry sad tears (but also tears of healing). This feeling would come over me every time I saw her. I did not understand why. At one of the evening church services, I heard God tell me to tell her that, “He will restore everything that was taken away from you, so you should continue to trust him.” I was very nervous at that point and so I didn’t have the courage to approach her. As the weeks went by, I would continue to see her and have the same feeling of heaviness. Finally, at the GSP gathering, this woman stood up and spoke. I heard God say, “tell her what I told you.” After the gathering I approached this woman and I told her that God will restore everything he has taken away from her and she must continue to trust him. We both burst into tears and she shared that she lost her child two days after he had been born. And so the feelings of heaviness that I was feeling, was the pain that she was bearing.
At the end of GSP she gave me a call and told me that she was pregnant again and this baby will be born around the same time she lost the other one. But she felt peace. God really did restore. This experience completely changed me. I never expected that God would use me in this way and it just showed me how big and mighty he is. Most of all, it showed me that he means what he says.
I could go on for days about the things that I experienced at GSP, but here are my biggest takeaways:
Bible study skills: I learnt how to study the Bible in a way that I had never done before. This was very powerful and really changed the way I approach the word. I have applied these principles to my own Bible study and I am currently working through the book of Ephesians.
Prayer and evangelism: GSP taught me to have the courage to pray out loud and to be bold enough to share the word to complete strangers, even if it means being rejected. I learnt what it means to live out Romans 1:16. Being confident in my knowledge of who God is and being confident to share the Gospel.
Extended time with God: Every Wednesday we spent four hours alone with God. At first the concept seemed so foreign: What was I supposed to do with the four hours? How was I supposed to connect with God for that long? I realized that there isn’t a particular way to do extended time with God but to allow God to speak to you in that time. To have your heart open to see him and your ears open to hear him. God dropped so many golden nuggets of truth in my heart during those Wednesdays.
Small group and one-on-ones: My group leader became one of my closest friends. I shared my heart with her and she helped me work through a number of things. Through her, I got to experience God’s grace and love for me. My small group also held my heart and I know God had a perfect plan for placing us the way he did.
Reconciliation and forgiveness: before coming to GSP I had been holding onto this verse, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). I had made a list of people I wanted to forgive and God was faithful in helping me let go. He indeed replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh. I reconciled with three people that had played a huge role in my life.
I am incredibly blessed to have been part of this amazing experience. The Glen in itself is a whole different world. I can truly say that my life has changed. I am not the same person as I was when I got onto that plane. I can say that I have a clearer understanding of who I was called and created to be. I have a better understanding of who God is as my father, my teacher and my friend.
I also have a lot more hope and faith in who God is, despite what happens around me. I know he’s bigger than anything that can happen to me. I got to encounter the truth of who God is and his love and heart for me, through people at GSP, strangers, people at Snow Mountain Ranch and the experience in general.
I cannot express how thankful I am. God fanned my flame into a burning desire to pursue him like never before. Stepping forth into new warmth and peace. This was catharsis. This was healing.
Young people impacting the world
By Rachel Christofel (2015 GSP Staff)
Sitting between a math teacher from French-speaking Africa, a friend from the far off Island of Tonga, and a student from Taiwan, I worshipped with tears in my eyes.
Among 48 people from 20 different countries, we were led in song by a German, an Indonesian, a Malaysian and a Kenyan. As I looked around the room, I thought of Romans 10:14-15, which says “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
And the Lord whispered to my heart, “Rachel, look! These ones. They have beautiful feet. And they will change the world!”
In that moment, and many other times throughout the eight week Global Student Program (GSP), I would catch glimpses of God’s heart for people, glimpses of how Revelation 5:9 could become a reality, glimpses into God’s perfect plan for the nations to be redeemed. I was sitting among the messengers of this generation that would take the hope of Christ globally.
Coming from very different backgrounds, languages, countries and cultures, these participants took great risks to travel oceans and continents away to spend their summer in Colorado. The one thing they had in common? Being touched by the Gospel of Jesus through the Navigators among them in their home countries. The reason they took great risks and left comfort zones to come to GSP? To be “sent ones.”
During the summer, we experienced a lot of firsts: riding rollercoasters, trying s’mores, using washing machines, hiking mountains, seeing rattlesnakes, learning languages, visiting Walmart, and even riding a yellow school bus!
But the real focus and purpose of the GSP program was to encourage, equip and train laborers to be sent into the harvest field. Throughout our time, we learned from different speakers how to live out of the Gospel and think about the world in light of Jesus’ plan. Each student was individually discipled and given tools to help them invest in the next generation of laborers. We grew and practiced how to converse about the Gospel with people who aren’t Christians. We volunteered at Glen Eyrie and developed character and servanthood. We spent hours studying 1 Peter together and praying that Jesus’ name would be known through our witness in all continents.
These beautiful feet, now equipped, trained, and ready have since left Colorado Springs. But, the effects of these 8 weeks has potential for impact across the globe!
Before leaving, my friend from the Czech Republic reminded me, “This is not the end. This is only the beginning!” And she is right! Those 96 beautiful feet are now spreading hope in places like Tanzania, Brazil, East Asia, Canada, Latvia, and Australia, for the glory and praise of Jesus.