by Janet Birkmann, STM Admin Assistant (July 2015)
June 24-29, 2015, a team from Grace OPC in Columbus, Ohio, including five members of the youth group and two adult leaders, traveled to Key West to receive evangelism training and experience from OP Pastor Bill Welzien of Keys Presbyterian Church (OPC) and Keys Evangelistic Ministries (KEM).
Team Leader, Mrs. Michele Sinacori, shared with us the follow-up reports/thank-you notes that the team wrote, and they serve as wonderful testimonials to the value of this unique short-term missions opportunity in the OPC.
- Mrs. Sinacori’s report on the trip can be found here!
- This opportunity is open to all in the OPC year-round! Learn more here!
The Best Gift I Could Have Been Given
Olivia Lamm, Age 16
Thank you so much for hosting the mission trip organized by Mrs. Sinacori, June 24th-29th in Key West Florida. It was an amazingly impactful trip in which my heart was turned toward God in many ways because of your gracious teaching. Although parasailing, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and experiencing all that Key West has to offer was fabulous, God had a purpose for that trip. The evangelism training that you presented to us every morning was invaluable, and I know it will prove to be a useful tool throughout my life as God works through me to demonstrate His love to others. Using these lessons in Mallory Square, as you presented the gospel every night, was life changing. Having the opportunity to learn how to trust in God completely and step outside of my comfort zone to boldly share the gospel with those around us was both exhilarating and terrifying, and also the best gift I could have been given. Most of all I wanted to thank you for showing me what standing for God means, and what striving for righteousness as a Christian looks like.
When I came to Key West I was struggling with some issues and burdened with life, my time in Florida turned my eyes back to God and placed my rebellious heart back on His path, so that I could live abundantly in Him. So thank you once again for graciously offering us your facilities, patiently teaching us, and sharing your ministry in Mallory Square with us. The trip was altogether wonderful, and you are greatly appreciated.
I Would Love the Chance to Return
Will Lamm, Age 18
Thank you and your church for letting our group come and learn about Evangelism. I really enjoyed the trip. Thank you for the wonderful lessons you gave us. Your teaching was thought-provoking and informative, and the evangelism at Mallory Square really took me out of my comfort zone, helping me to feel more comfortable talking to people about the good news of Jesus. I found it very interesting seeing how all those different people on the pier reacted to God’s word. In our sometimes protected world we never see the effects of God’s word on unbelievers, and seeing the wide variety or responses people had was very eye-opening for me as a believer.
I believe the trip was extremely worthwhile and I would love the chance to return and learn more about evangelism while putting it into action on the pier.
I Absolutely Loved the Evangelism Training
Emily Parrish, Age 15
First, before I go into great detail of the adventure I experienced, I would just like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Pastor Bill Welzien. He made the trip such a memorable journey!
The first day of our trip, I must say, made me discouraged. Our connecting flight from Tampa, Florida to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was cancelled. We knew the Lord had a plan, so we went to Tampa, and decided to figure things out there. Tampa was beautiful! God’s design was unraveled to us throughout the trip. We rushed to find a way to Key West. We finally received a miracle, and we were going to drive all the way to Key West. We would be stopping in Fort Lauderdale to pick up our second rental car.
Our eight hour drive was a blessing. Through those eight hours in a tiny compact car we all bonded. We learned our hearts’ desires, and we learned that some of us (Olivia and I ) get very car sick. We had a great trip overall even though we really just wanted to be in Key West.
I absolutely LOVED the evangelism training that I received first hand from Pastor Bill. I would love to be in the mission field someday and God really showed me that this is one adventure. Pastor Welzien has such great knowledge, and I felt honored being able to learn from him.
Mallory Square was my favorite part of the trip. I met people from around the world, and I listened to their journey through life. People have stories. They have struggles, but when they have God they can overcome all of that.
I Did Jump Out of My Shell a Little Bit
Nick Rosato, Age 17
I’m not usually a vacation person, but the dorms above the church were very nice, very similar to luxury camp style. I did have fun with my family on all of the activities there. Mallory Square was really nerve-wracking. I spent most of the time waiting for it to get over because I was so nervous but I did jump out of my shell a little bit and try to talk to some people and I was glad I realized I had the courage to do it.
Thank you, Pastor Welzien for teaching me and my mom so much. You really made this visit a special one, and also thank you very much to Tim for giving us a place to stay.
An Amazing Experience for Me
Sarah Rosato, Age 15
My experience on the trip to Key West was absolutely amazing! I made so many friends and created lots of new memories.
Pastor Welzien really helped me know more about my faith and salvation with Jesus Christ. I really am glad I decided to go because I made some relationships that are unforgettable. Evangelizing was also an amazing experience for me. Thank you for everything!