13 Oct Second City: Justin Leitch
In our fast-paced, smart-phone, gotta-have-it-now, gotta-know-now society, we expect instant results in practically anything we do. But that’s not typically how matters of sharing the faith, building relationships and making disciples work.
In the summer of 2013, Justin Leitch, then a student at North Carolina State University and now on staff with the Summit College Ministry, went into his six-week mission trip to Belgrade, Serbia with that in mind.
As part of the GoNow Second City program, Justin and six other college students from around the Triangle spent 40 days in Belgrade serving a church plant there. The primary purpose for the team was clear:
“The number one goal over the course of the summer was to serve the body of Jesus by blessing the mission field for long-term disciple making,” Justin said.
While in Belgrade, the team devoted their time to building relationships, sharing the gospel and just hanging out with the Serbians. They also discipled young Serbian believers to carry on with the mission of the team after they left. But God showed Justin that there were more than just long-term effects to come from their service that summer. They saw evidence of more immediate results as well.
Justin recalls a transformation in a young student named Mark*. Mark was a believer, but he was skeptical about the success of the mission of God in Belgrade, where the population is less than one percent Evangelical Christian – especially through Americans. Though Serbians began to attend the local house church while Justin and the team were there, Mark felt as though they were only interested for selfish reasons.
“They just come because they like hanging out with Americans and learning better English,” Mark told Justin. “When you leave, they will leave also.”
But Justin witnessed God’s mighty work through the Holy Spirit. As the summer progressed, Mark had multiple opportunities to translate as the team shared the gospel. They were able to see Mark’s heart soften with each interaction. One interaction in particular stood out to Justin’s fellow team member, Andre.
“At the beginning of the conversation, Mark didn’t want to be involved, and by the end he had carried out a gospel conversation with an unbelieving Serb for over an hour!” Andre said. “When we left, he was literally beaming with excitement and ecstatic about making a new friend.”
The Serb that Mark shared his faith with began to come to a few events and began to form a deeper relationship with Mark.
“The transformation in this story is an amazing example of how Christ worked through our team to strengthen the local church in order to bless the field for long-term disciple-making,” Justin said. “We were given an opportunity to show Mark that there is hope for unbelievers in Serbia and that evangelism is important and possible with the power of the Spirit!”
God not only used that summer to advance his kingdom in Serbia, but he also used it to transform Justin’s relationship with him. The Lord used this time to remind Justin that apart from His power, human efforts are feeble to do anything.
“Seeing the power of God work in a context that is closed to the idea of the gospel is a powerful experience,” he said. “Without overstatement, I can confidently say that this summer was the most spiritually formative time of my life. The experience of giving away a summer to a church-led experience like this is something that I would recommend to anyone.”
Participating in a summer project like Second City is an invitation to be transformed by the Holy Spirit and an invitation to watch God work, with both immediate and long-term results.
*name changed for privacy