The recent SURGE trip to South America was a great experience and a great testimony to the power of Jesus Christ. Twelve disciples from across the US traveled to South America to encourage the disciples there. All that we saw and experienced was ultimately a testimony to Jesus’ life-giving message, his amazing faithfulness, grace, love, and his blood shed on the cross for us. We saw first-hand the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-21, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” From the moment we arrived in Santiago, Chile to the time we left Quito, Ecuador, this amazing unity in Jesus was evident. The disciples welcomed us with great enthusiasm and were amazing hosts. We first visited the church in Santiago, Chile. We were able to evangelize with the campus ministry and meet with a regional service of the church. Saturday morning the singles served food to the homeless in the city center and spent the day with the single disciples fellowshipping, eating and enjoying a singles devo and dance party. Sunday we met with the Santiago church and had a luncheon with the singles afterwards. In the afternoon we traveled to Vina del Mar, a costal city with a group of 17 disciples. We shared a meal together and spent time getting to know each other. The disciples there were very welcoming and also very grateful for our visit. From Chile we traveled to Quito, Ecuador excited to meet the brothers and sisters there. The singles ministry organized a retreat outside of Quito in the beautiful mountains of Ecuador. During our time in Quito we were able to enjoy great times of fellowship and adventure. We climbed mountains, saw waterfalls, ate many meals together, and shared our hearts with each other. During the retreat there were some heart-moving classes and sharing. It was encouraging to see that we all share a common love, are part of one family, and have many of the same struggles and challenges. As Paul mentions in Romans 1:11-12, there was a great mutual encouragement. Those in Ecuador and those visiting were able to share with each other their faith, their conversion stories, favorite scriptures, and what characteristics of God they most appreciate. Several disciples were able to stay a few extra days and share their faith on the streets of Quito. Our time in Quito was very impactful for all those who went from SURGE and we hope that the singles ministry in Quito felt our love and encouragement, too.
In March 2019 Sao Paolo, Brazil is having a singles conference and they have invited SURGE to send singles to attend. In both June and October 2019 SURGE will send disciples to visit several churches in Europe.
Below is one sister’s experience on the trip:
As we sat in front of the fireplace listening to disciples from both Ecuador and America share vulnerably about the ways God has worked in their life, I couldn’t help but picture Jesus looking down and smiling at us from heaven. SURGE has taught me not to underestimate the power of unity among ALL believers throughout the earth. Shortly before his departure from this earth, Jesus prayed for unity among his disciples. Not only for those who were with him, but also for those who would believe through their message. This was very important to him because it’s our love and unity that reveals Jesus to the world (John 17). Before heading to Ecuador, I had the opportunity to stay with a wonderful family of disciples in Santiago, Chile. This serving couple with three kids housed and fed three single sisters for almost a week. The time spent with them bonded us for life as we shared about common struggles among our churches and the lessons we have learned both individually and collectively. Sharing our faith on the local campus was challenging but fun – especially because my Spanish is no bueno. Luckily, a Spanish speaking sister was with me :). After eating, sharing, praying, sightseeing, and “enjoying the fellowship of all the people” (Acts 2), we took an overnight trip to a very small church in a beautiful beach town called Vina Del Mar. The disciples there were some of the most hospitable people I have ever met! My time in Ecuador felt like a completely different trip altogether. The singles leaders in Quito planned an amazing singles retreat where the 12 of us joined over 20 disciples. A bus was rented for the entire time and we were able to share our faith with the driver who spent a lot of time with our group. We went to a rainforest with a waterfall, a mountain retreat with a giant lake, a small village, and the middle of earth “ground 00.” We were continuously fed and had a lot of time to fellowship with each other. Three of us that were unable to go to Galapagos stayed a few extra days and spent time with some of the singles. On our trip to a mountain top in the city, we made a new friend from Sao Paulo, Brazil who was vacationing in Ecuador for the week. He hung out with us on the mountain and then came with us to meet two campus disciples for a bible talk at the university almost 30 minutes away! It was an incredible time in a beautiful country. As I said good-bye to my brothers and sisters in Ecuador, it was clear that we were all strengthened in our faith and mutually encouraged by each other as evidenced by the giant hugs and watery eyes among us. SURGE is an incredible ministry that has allowed me, a single sister of 27 years, to “live life to the full” in a way the pleases God. For this I am eternally grateful! -Kathy Virzi, Los Angeles Church of Christ
If you have any interest in joining any of the future trips, please send Chad an email (email@example.com). It’s great to see how God is using single disciples to connect, inspire, and encourage fellow disciples all over the world!
Chad and Mara Winchell
SURGE – Singles United Representing God Everywhere