Kate: Hey, Elle. Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview at majesticgoldenrose.
Elle: Thank you Kate!
Kate: You're welcome. Do you mind telling us about yourself, where you blog, and ways you and your family have served others?
Elle: Absolutely! My name is Elle, and I am an only child that loves to fly, read, do missions, but more importantly, I love Jesus! I blog at www.ellelovett.com, on which I mainly just talk about my life day to day, especially our mission trips. My parents often do deliverance ministry, and we go on mission trips a lot. The mission trips are mostly to Nicaragua, though we have invitations to other locations such as Kenya, Russia, and Honduras. Lately, we have decided that we would like to spend three months at our home in Georgia, three months in South Dakota (which will be talked about more later), and three months in Nicaragua. We hope to use the remaining three months to go on other mission trips to other locations. These time measurements will be rough, and not necessarily exact. For example, we hope to take care of various tasks here in Georgia before leaving for South Dakota. Then, we plan to go to Nicaragua until the end of the year. We will be here for spring for sports and homeschool enrichment classes before heading to South Dakota. This cycle will hopefully continue.
Kate: Sounds so busy! You must constantly be adjusting to new routines and homes. It seems like culture shock can be distinct and even motivational... What are some things about Nicaragua (or other places!) that have been notable to you? Can you narrate a bit about your first experiences abroad?
Elle: I’d love to. Some of the things pressed into my memory are the numerous salvations in Nicaragua, along with the miraculous healings and the opportunity to preach there. It’s these memories that don’t let that fire of passion for missions to go out. Occasionally I feel myself wishing that I could live a normal life. Then I am reminded of these memories, which propel me on toward my goal and prevent my getting complacent. For my first experiences, I have been going abroad for a long time. I don’t quite remember my first times, but the first time I went on a mission trip was to Nicaragua in February 2014. I was four months shy of ten, and a little nervous. I quickly was settled in, however. I loved it! But it was not just the dense rainforest, the beautiful hibiscus, or the tortillas I liked. This trip changed my life. I went on to complete three more mission trips to Nicaragua afterward within 2 ½ years, with nearly 1 ½ years of that not used, but filled with other types of service. I was on fire for Jesus and missions. I came up with plans for my own mission organization, and began writing books. I couldn’t wait to begin working for the Lord in deeper levels! Thank you Jesus!
Kate: Thats a great attitude. I love how you say that when you were not away, you were still serving. What is a good way to help break down culture-difference barriers when you do leave your home in Georgia?
Elle: I believe that to come with our hands empty, as Jesus instructed for the disciples in the original instructions for ministry, is that initial blow to the barrier. It’s awesome to bring food, but that easily turns you into the rich white American, when actually America is just drowned in debt, not rich. Bring the Daily Bread, the Water of Life, and the Great Physician before you bring earthly bread, water, medical supplies, or any other earthly man-made item. These items help, but they will burn in the end, so they cannot mean much. The salvation of souls means the most. Medical supplies may help a person, but if they fail, then that energy will not have been put toward the salvation of the soul that just passed away. It is this logic, I believe, that puts us, Nicaraguans and Americans (or any other pair), on the same level. It puts the priority of salvation above the priority of belongings. I hope that makes sense!
Kate: It does make sense. It seems we try, even in America, to "attract" people to church with different bribes but its great to remember that the ultimate reason to go to church is Jesus. (pauses) So, what about teamwork? All the time people have to do team building activities here for better cooperation in schools, the workforce etc. How does this play into sharing the gospel?
Elle: The best teamwork I have ever experienced was a result of ministry together. When a missions team or any other team goes out and does ministry together, it really builds teamwork in an amazing way. Rather than building teamwork ahead of time, it happens more while spending time together and more importantly, spreading the Gospel together. Team-building games can be fun, and you can learn a lot about each other with them, but the ultimate way to team-build for ministry is to do it.
Kate: Cool. Do you think that poverty in another country produce a greater need for Christianity than in America? Are the reasons that a person in a "poor" country becomes a Christian different than that of the average American?
Elle: I believe that when people are poor or hungry in real life, they tend to look for something satisfactory. When they are at the end of their rope, which they so commonly are, trying to keep themselves alive, they are much more open to the Gospel because they feel they need a Savior. They need love and acceptance. Here in America, people tend to be a little more stuff-focused and don’t recognize their urgent need for a Savior, for greed and belongings have become their savior. I hope this makes sense.
Kate: Yeah, I agree completely. Have you seen short term mission projects (not permanent programs) produce lifelong Christians? Why or why not? What is a good length of time to stay in any location?
Elle: I have, actually. As I have mentioned, there were many salvations on our trips and I believe that although discipleship is key, they can become lifelong believers. On mission trips it is a very good idea to get the new believer plugged into resources, groups, and maybe a church. Giving them Bibles, books, and other resources can be a good step too. And as for the length of time to be spent in any one location, I personally, from experience, think that one week is too short. I would personally choose two weeks, but some people’s schedule do not fit that. I think somewhere in the vicinity of 1 & ½ weeks is about right unless 2 weeks will work, which you may want to go for. This allows more time for discipleship and ministry.
Kate: Yup. I think we can all agree that more time to build relationships is usually good even though sometimes we are called to move on to a new community. You mentioned that you are going to South Dakota. How did you and your family choose this location?
Elle: My grandma used to live in South Dakota, and after she moved to live with us in Georgia due to memory problems, we kept her house and small tract of property there. For nearly every year ever since, we have gone up there at least one time to enjoy the area and its beauty. After my grandma moved out of our house and into a nursing home, and we moved from our home to my Nana and Papa’s home, who had both already passed away. We have been living there ever since, fixing it up. Then the Lord called us to the 3-month program I discussed earlier. We decided to incorporate our South Dakota house because of its’ near proximity to an Indian reservation, where we could easily do ministry.
Kate: That is pretty convenient. Good luck there! Just a few more questions! My next one is: Who should go on a mission trip? How can teens get involved?
Elle: Whoever loves Jesus with all of their heart, likes to evangelize, and is ready to have a different life afterward should go on a mission trip. Whoever wants to have the same, consistent lifestyle after the trip as before should not. Teens can get involved in SO many ways! If the finances or resources are not available to go on a foreign mission trip, you could always go on a domestic mission trip. If that isn’t possible, you can go on a local outreach or volunteer at a soup kitchen or help arrange a mission trip. You can organize a fundraiser for missions, or raise awareness for spreading the Gospel by writing, speaking, etc.
Kate: Yeah, there are always opportunities. The Bible says that it is great for teaching and equipping for good works in Timothy. When you are reaching out, how do you prepare? What are necessary resources?
Elle: There are not many things necessary to prepare with. It’s good to make sure that people are praying for you, and that you have Bibles, or at least some strong Christian communities in your connections for the sake of new converts. Do make sure you are in prayer and fasting ahead of time.
Kate: What makes a mission (or a mission team) more successful than others?
Elle: I'm not quite sure what you meant.
Kate: Its cool. Its actually a kind of rhetorical question, as the obvious answer is Jesus is the key to changing hearts. When I thought of the question I was asking if you think there is one key aspect to what missionaries do (share food, help build wells, build a church, provide medical care) that must exist or a resource that makes things on the spot go more smoothly (sufficient donations, a large group, a longer period of time to get to know the community, etc). You dont have to answer since the answer is most accurately a focus on God is necessary for missionaries, but if this made you think of of something else you would like to share, feel free.
Elle: The favor of the Lord. I’ve noticed through all of my experiences that humility is one of the things that really brings favor. I’ve also come to find out that a small, more intimate, personal group is better than a large one. When you make a big group, there’s less unity, and unity is key. So humility and unity would be my picks for reaping the most reward in the Kingdom.
Kate: What is the most important thing/s you have learned through serving in an outreach ministry? How can all the rest of us apply it?
Elle: I have learned that I am NOT the most important person in the world. Missions has helped me to be selfless and passionate, and it also has taught me to get priorities straight. The first world can apply this by not caring about what others think when you are doing things for God. We should be passionate and different, even strange, if it means we are obeying God. This is what life boils down to, the obedience of our Savior, not the pride of caring what other people think!