A Brookfield graduate recently returned from a mission trip.
In His Great Commission, noted in the Bible most famously in Matthew 28:19, Jesus Christ told His people to go out into the world, and make disciples of all mankind. For Rachel Elson, a 2008 graduate of Brookfield High School, this commission meant spending time across the world, in the Himalayan Mountains.
“Prior to this journey, I was working for Orange County [California] as a Mental Health Coordinator with South Coast Children’s Society,” said Elson. “I earned my Master’s Degree at the University of California-Irvine in Criminology, Law, and Society. I was living a block away from the ocean in downtown Huntington Beach with a great church community. However, I never wanted to be living for myself, living in vain.”
Elson continued: “One of my biggest prayers then and now is, ‘Lord, your will be done. Whatever that may look like.’”
While scrolling through her social media one evening, Elson ran across a post by Jason Heppner, one of her favorite Crossfit athletes. He challenged his fans to use their fitness for God’s kingdom.
“At that moment the Holy Spirit started turning my heart and said, ‘You’re doing this. Whatever this means, whatever it takes, you’re doing it,’” said Elson. “There was a link to the Respect the Corners website on Jacob’s Instagram page. I prayed, had no idea what this opportunity fully entailed, to be completely transparent I was not 100 percent sure where the Himalayas were, but where He calls me, I go.”
The post led her to the University of the Nations-Youth With A Mission, with a school located in Kona, Hawaii. She began with their Discipleship Training School, and 12 weeks in the classroom, 12 weeks of outreach, and two weeks of a debriefing.
“[It] provided an environment for students to personally encounter Jesus Christ, to learn to hear God’s voice, and respond with joy,” said Elson. “Outreach provided an opportunity where the lessons learned in the classroom became a reality. Our strengthened faith from the classroom was challenged to be expressed in action. It was an opportunity to serve others and share radical faith with people who may have never heard the Good News otherwise. It was a journey with Jesus, even to the ends of the earth.”
And the ends of the Earth indeed called to Elson, who embarked on a trip deep into the Himalayan Mountains. Thanks to her background in Crossfit, a competitive physical fitness discipline, she would be ready for the treacherous journey.
“With God’s power and our obedience, many lives have been and will continue to be transformed,” said Elson. “We use Crossfit to be dynamic, life-changing coaches that impact the lost, make new disciples, and never stop giving our lives for the Gospel. We desire to live like Jesus, to uphold faith, family, integrity, and extravagant love. We use our fitness to bring the gospel to the hardest places on earth to reach.”
The trek across the Himalayan Mountains led Elson to be able to proclaim the Good News in places where it may never have been heard before. The group traveled lightly, a necessity in this case, and spread the Gospel in dance bars, universities, public schools, orphanages, slums, cities, and unreached people in the Himalayan villages.
“The cities in this closed nation are some of the most polluted, underdeveloped places in the world,” said Elson. “This means that many have never heard the Gospel message even once. It was and is our duty and joy to spread the love of Jesus throughout this area. Some of the outreach we did was building a new roof for a family in the slums, pray for the homeless, work in local businesses, help with the children in the schools and orphanages, pray with the women who feel stuck in sex trafficking, lead service in churches and encourage fellow believers, evangelize in places such as temples, streets, shops, busses, and other places.”
Elson shared a particular experience with a girl named Hope. Hope lived in a Hindu village with Witch Doctors, and had never heard the Word of God.
“We sat on top of a roof with sixty villagers gathered to hear the story about Jesus,” said Elson. “Hope leaned in, intrigued about the stories being told in John 14-17. After the message, we asked if anyone would like prayer and her hand shot up high. We prayed for healing, calming of her dreams, and an encounter with the Holy Spirit.”
Elson continued: “She said she felt warmth and an unexplainable joy. There she said, ‘If Jesus can fully heal me, I will follow Him.’ We began praying and worshiping and she began to cry as she gave her life to God.”
Elson concluded by noting that this experience as a missionary helped her grow closer to her friends, family, and Lord and Savior.
“In the book of Acts as well as the teachings from Jesus, we are called to have a strong community of believers,” said Elson. “The Bible says the Holy Spirit is present whenever believers gather together [Matthew 18:20]. A great example of this was the early church of Acts, which made a habit of meeting, eating, and worshipping together. As a result, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved [Acts 2:46-47].”
Elson concluded: “Being in church on Sundays is definitely important. However, if you want to be a Christ follower, be one every day in the context of all your communities. That’s where you will see ministry happen.”