Advocate Story: How Mutual Edification Shaped My Time in Kenya and Beyond

June 30, 2021

Throughout my walk with Christ, I’ve participated in several mission trips, but it wasn’t until I served alongside 127 Worldwide and Swahiba Youth Networks that I began to consider the idea of “mutual edification.” Too often, it is easy to slip into the mindset that when you serve someone, your service is for their benefit alone. 127 Worldwide, however, offers a different approach. 127 seeks to serve the Lord in a way that is mutually-edifying for both GO Team members and the local leaders who serve vulnerable communities day-in and day-out. As I served alongside Peter and the Swahiba staff for the first time in 2016, I began to see that the mission shouldn’t be just about what is going on around you in the area you’re serving; it should also be about what is changing in your heart as well. 

For those that have served with Peter and his staff at SYN, you know that they excel in spiritual disciplines. It was evident that this discipline came not out of a sense of obligation, but rather a reverent love and longing for unity with the Lord. The Swahiba staff buried Scripture in their heart, and they spent time daily with the Lord. In fact, each day before we began to serve together, we started with worship and devotion, preparing our hearts not only for what we would be pouring out, but for what we’d be taking in. 

As I partnered with Swahiba, I noticed how prepared they were to share the reason for their hope with others. As I heard the Swahiba Staff share words of encouragement, I saw how well they knew God’s word. They were able to use the Scripture that they had memorized to proclaim the gospel to the vulnerable people they were serving. I began to feel conviction over how lazy I had been in my walk with Christ up until that point. Through serving with Swahiba, I became motivated to not just read Scripture but to read it for understanding and application. 

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I also saw how bold the Swahiba staff were in sharing their testimonies, something that I had not witnessed on a mission trip before. I was deeply encouraged and moved by how vulnerable they were. They shared every part of their testimony, even their deepest hurts. 

As a child I was molested, which is a fact that I used to tell myself I would never share. However, after hearing how vulnerable my brothers and sisters Chrispine, Peter, and Hiram were in sharing their testimonies, I began to see the beauty in allowing God to use every part of our testimonies for his glory. While serving on that GO Team, I shared for the first time what had happened to me as a child and professed that God can restore any and all brokenness. 

When I returned home, I used what my friends at Swahiba had modeled for me in their boldness and discipline by sharing my faith boldly and by setting aside a daily quiet time. Through this, God has helped me grow in spiritual maturity and made me a better missionary in my daily mission field here in the United States. My life is evidence of the importance of mutual edification in cross-cultural engagement. 

Being a kingdom servant shouldn’t just change others, it should change you. In Romans 12:3-8 we are told that while each believer has a different gift we are still one body, so that each individual is important. This is something that we often forget as we prepare to serve. We adopt the mindset that we are there to “make a difference” or that we are saving the day. This is a dangerous way to think and frankly isn’t biblical. Yes, we are there to serve -- but we are also there to learn from other believers as well. When we do not strive for mutual edification, we run the risk of putting ourselves on a pedestal that we do not belong on. We are each given our own unique gift so that we can learn and grow with each other, thus truly achieving kingdom partnership. I am incredibly thankful that I was able to see mutual edification modeled through 127 Worldwide and Swahiba Youth Networks. Because of this, my walk with Christ was changed for the better.  

  Sara Beth Bio