HAMPSTEAD — This summer I had an opportunity to travel with Word of Life Youth Reachout Missionary Program, which consisted of a group of 40 teen-agers from across the country.
This was a monthlong program which included travels to Hawaii, Australia and Fiji.
Teen-agers traveled to Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, N.Y., for one week of training camp. During camp, we learned how to reach out and help people.
We had an in-depth study of Bible principles on topics that included Making Your Prayer Life Effective, Developing Relationships with God, Family and Peers, The Secret of a Good Self-Image, How to Overcome Bitterness, How to Handle Criticism, Being an Influencer Instead of Being Influenced and Teen Evangelism Techniques.
We put together a teen choral group, many solos and four drama productions re-enacting the life of Christ and biblical characters. We stayed in Hawaii for four days, where the Reachout team wasdivided into three groups, traveling to several churches in Honolulu.
We passed out tracts containing Scripture about Jesus. We also talked to people in malls and parks.
The team next traveled to Sydney, Australia, for two weeks. We stayed at Word of Life Bible Institute, outside of the city.
June, July and August are winter months on this continent.
In Sydney, the temperature dropped to 22 degreesat night and rose to 60 during the day. Australians do not have central heat. We wore sweaters all the time and at night snuggled into sleeping bags.
Most of the churches had foot heaters in each pew. A majority of homes only has a central fireplace to heat the entire house.
At first, many Australians did not want to hear about Jesus. However, as the team sang musical presentations in parks and malls, many Australians' hearts were warmed, and we were able to go out into the crowds and talk one-on-one about Christ.
More than 100 people accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. In Sydney, we distributed more than 60,000 tracts. Our group also sang in a train station, where many people took time to stop and listen to our message. We held two youth rallies, which many local teens and some of their parents attended.
Teen Reachout also put on a big presentation at the Universityof Sydney. After the musical program, we mingled in the crowds telling students that Christ loves them. We reached out to drug addicts and many people with broken lives and hearts.
We were all anxious toarrive in Fiji, an island full of poverty. The Fijians were extremely kind and gracious.
The island's main source of income is sugar cane. Men work in the fields from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $50 a week. Theearly evening hours are spent burning and clearing the fields, creating a heavy smoke, which you can smell all night long. Ash from the fields falls like snow.
Several nights, we ate with chopsticks because our hosts ran out of dinner forks. We ate a lot of roots, rice and lamb. Mango trees were everywhere, and the fruit is delicious.
The first day, we visited several public and private schools, giving our presentation outdoors to more than 2,000 young people throughout the day.
After the presentation, each of us took a group of 15 children, sat on the grass and talked to them about Jesus. The children crowded around us, wanting to hear more. The Reachout Team sang in parks, playing fields and playgrounds, attracting attention to our message.
We handed out 30,000 tracts telling people about Jesus. I was able to witness to a Muslim and a Hindu, opening the Bible to them.
We invited people all week to come to a youth rally. The auditoriumwas packed the evening of the rally. There was a wonderful response to the message of salvation, and 200 Fijians accepted Christ as theirsavior.
Because of the support of many concerned Christians, I was able to go on this trip. I am very thankful to them.
This trip has put a new emphasis on missionary work in my life. Next year, YouthReachout will be making several trips, traveling to Germany and Ireland or Costa Rica and Panama. Hopefully, there will be a trip to Russia.
I hope to be a part of the team next year. I would like to seeother teens in Carroll County get involved in the program.
Tom Harbin, 15, is the son of Susan and Ed Harbin of Hampstead.