Breaking Barriers

Haley Sutherland

Now that we’ve stepped into 2016, I’ve decided to take some time to write and reflect on this past year. While 2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life, it was also the most amazing year as well.  Looking back, my most memorable experience of 2015 was SURGE.

Surge is European Initiative’s 30-day missions trip in Berlin, Germany. European Initiative (EI) is a mission’s organization whose primary goal is to spread the Gospel in Europe. In the past, I had taken 10-day missions trips to Berlin with EI, however my SURGE trip was the longest I’d ever been away from home. To be completely honest it was one of the most challenging months of my life. Out of the ten other people on the SURGE team, I only knew two of them beforehand.   At first it was difficult trying to build relationships while at the same time doing ministry with them. Yet it was in the times when we laughed, cried and worshipped together that we truly became a family.  I will never forget the memories that we made, and I am so grateful for every person on the team.

Another challenge that I faced was fear. I became fearful that I was not good enough to be a part of the SURGE team. I also started to doubt that God really wanted me there. Yet it was in those moments that God really taught me how to let go and trust Him. I could trust Him knowing that He was the reason I was there and that He had purpose for me on that trip. In the quiet moments I spent pressing into Him, He gave me comfort and courage to keep going. Whatever challenges we faced each day He reassured me that He was by my side every step of the way.

We also faced the challenge of at times being emotionally, physically, and spiritually tired. We would often go from prayer walks to outreaches and then on to other ministry opportunities. While God changed lives at every outreach, by the end of the day we were drained. Yet it was in those moments of sleep deprivation and emptiness that God really moved. I watched Him do the impossible so many times, and it took my faith to whole new levels. For example, one day we were doing an outreach at a famous square in Köln, Germany. It was a busy day as hundreds of people were around. Toward the end of the outreach, we were all hungry and beyond ready to sit down to rest. However, Jeff Serio (EI’s fearless leader) decided we should end with a worship song. So we pulled out a guitar, formed a circle, and began to worship the Lord.  While we’d done this many times before without anyone from the outside paying us much notice, this time it was different. As we worshiped, a large crowd of people began to stop.  Some from the team began to engage in conversations and minister to the crowd, while others continued to worship. Also a group of European Christians (who we did not know beforehand!)  heard us singing and came over to join. The joy of the Lord was everywhere in that square, and we continued to worship for two more hours. God used our worship that day to save lives and draw people to Himself.  Through that experience, God taught me what worship is all about and revealed to me how powerful His presence truly is.

I am so glad that I did Surge as I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t decided to come.  God stretched me more than He had in my entire life during this time. Yet because of that I learned more about who God is and my calling and identity in Him. I would recommend Surge to anyone who has a heart for missions.  It is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never regret. The EI staff are some of the most loving people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Their passion for God and the people of Europe is so evident in everything they do. If Surge even sounds the slightest bit interesting to you, please check it out!