What an amazing summer we had in Mongolia and South Korea. As a family we are so grateful for each and every prayer and gift that made this summer a possibility for us. Now comes the challenging part: to try to condense a summer full of ministry into a few short paragraphs and call it a newsletter. But we will try!
Mongolia & South Korea
This summer we experienced our sixth full-length summer mission trip (and Ryan’s ninth) with teenagers; the destinations were the countries of Mongolia and South Korea. Starting in the swamps of Florida, our team of 23 trained beside nearly 700 other summer missionaries in some of the most primitive and challenging living conditions imaginable. This year I had the opportunity to teach music classes to all of the teams while Ryan taught concrete and the “Former Team Member” class.
Upon completion of our training we traveled to Mongolia, where our team drove out into the countryside and, with no access to electricity or running water, we set up and ran a “Boot Camp” for young Mongolian Christians. Sound crazy? Trust me, it is. But do you know what happened? The Kingdom of God unfolded before our eyes. We saw young people come to Christ as truths from the Bible were taught, translated and lived out. We saw a group of young Mongolians complete the discipleship training and take the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on mission trips throughout their country!
As if this weren’t enough, we then traveled to South Korea to teach English Training Camps alongside Child Evangelism Fellowship. Teaching English was a new experience for us both and allowed me to take the lead in coordinating and supervising the classes of 8-19 year olds. We stood amazed as American teenagers, using the Bible as their format, taught English to interested Koreans, and rejoiced as we saw people come to Christ and become connected to the local church.
We saw God work in some incredible ways this summer—from traveling safety to transformed lives, from changing the weather to changing a teenager’s heart. We witnessed God do miracle after miracle and expand His kingdom to His glory again and again. But this story isn’t done; in fact, for most of the people in it, the journey has just begun. Taking teens on missions for Jesus is not just transformative, it is bustling with potential as they have the rest of their lives awaiting them to continue to be a witness for Jesus, both here at home and to the uttermost ends of the earth.
A Personal Story from Ryan about the Summer:
I try never to take for granted any of the opportunities that God gives me to share about Teen Missions. In March of this year, after speaking at a school in Riverside, CA, a young lady named Ronnie approached me asking what team I was leading and telling me that she wanted to come with my wife and me on our team. I told her which team we were leading and was excited when I found out she had registered for our team!
From the second she showed up at Boot Camp this summer it was evident that Ronnie was a very quiet and shy person. But as our team grew closer to the Lord, and to each other, they began to share their testimonies with us. When Ronnie began to open up, we met a young lady who had many “typical struggles”, but as she confessed her sin we began to see the Holy Spirit work. We saw a boldness come out in her as she repented of her struggles of leading a “boyfriend-first” lifestyle instead of a God-first one. We laughed with her and other members of our team as we learned about each other’s families, and we cried as we lovingly confronted each other as sin became apparent in our lives. Through Christ-centered community and godly fellowship we saw God work, not just in Ronnie’s life, but also in each of the lives of the 16 teenagers we had on our team with us this summer.
Our Family Experiences this Summer:
At age nine, Micah has now visited eight different countries outside of his own. He continues to love to play soccer, fish, swim and camp. All of which he was able to do in abundance while we were in Mongolia. From sleeping in a tent beside a river, to eating food cooked over a fire, I don’t think that he could have been in a more ideal place for the summer. When he wasn’t swimming in the nearby river or snitching snacks out of the ger (you may know this as a yurt) that functioned as our kitchen, he was having fun playing with the Mongolian kids who were close to his age.
Abby had a fun time in Mongolia too, but I think she especially loved South Korea. Her blond hair really stood out in the sea of dark hair that surrounded her. She loved playing with the kids at the English camps we helped run. It never seemed to bother her that most of her “friends” didn’t speak her language. She just kept on talking and somehow everyone would figure out what was being communicated… at least that’s what she told herself!
Zeke was a real trooper throughout the summer… and so were his parents. In Mongolia it seemed like we were always chasing him down and saving him from some immediate peril! We don’t want to alarm anyone but as we’re sure you can imagine, most of the things that Micah found enjoyable Zeke thought were fun, too! So, if we weren’t trying to keep him out of the river, we were keeping him away from the cooking fires, or rescuing him from the cows that liked to graze through our campsite! As far as Zeke was concerned this was an amazing summer… but at times his parents might have had a slightly different take on it!!! However, in South Korea we had quite the opposite experience, as the extremely warm and hospitable people there absolutely fell in love with his red hair. He was constantly being held, played with and in general totally spoiled by almost every Korean we met!
The Fall promotional season has begun and we are going to be very busy. Ryan already is 100% booked for all his time for an upcoming trip to Colorado and we are working on scheduling trips to California, Southern Oregon, Spokane, Boise, and Phoenix. In addition, Teen Missions is going to sponsor the Winter Jam concert tour again this year, which means that during the months of November and March, Ryan will be on tour with the bands again promoting Teen Missions at these Christian concerts. So if you want us to visit your church, youth group, Christian school, small group, or homeschool co-op to share about Teen Missions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We love you all and thank you so much for your prayers and steadfast support.
The Fast Family
Ryan, Erin, Micah, Abigail & Ezekiel