When Evan Hutchinson arrived in Mongolia on a service trip, he quickly found common ground with his newfound friends there. But it was their differences that he found the most inspiring.

His very first experience at the tiny church tucked between the mountains of Hatgal was a youth group service of about 20 teenagers from the neighborhood. Evan and the rest of the team from Grace Church taught the teens some new games and learned some new ones in exchange. Though they couldn’t speak the same language, they shared plenty of laughter. Then they all sang together songs about God, familiar tunes to both groups, but again in different languages. But they didn’t need to sing in the same language, to have the same heart.

As Evan got to know all the families who had decided to follow Jesus through Chris and Stephanie Ballinger’s church there, he began to realize just how different their stories were from his own. In a region dominated by Shamanism and Buddhism, their faith, he discovered, cost them much more than he could have imagined.

“In Mongolia and several other places (in Asia), Christianity is at least frowned upon, if not persecuted. It takes a lot more faith to be a Christian,” says Evan, “You might get spat upon, you might get insulted, you will probably be belittled.”

Hearing their stories of facing opposition from friends and family became a great source of encouragement to him. Evan says, “In conversations and them talking about how faithful God has been to them—even though their life has been really hard—you can just see the faith kind of working itself out in their lives.”

When asked if he would recommend other people go on a service trip, you can hear the excitement in Evan’s voice. “Definitely! (It’s a) life changing experience to get outside of your culture, get outside of your norm, experience what life is like for someone on the other side of the world. Just seeing what their life is like, reminds you, ‘I’m not the only person that exists, there are other people.’”

He goes on to say, “They have needs and they have desires just like I do. We’re really similar in a lot of ways. We’re also so different because they don’t have all the opportunities I have (in America). Investing (your time) in that gives them that opportunity, potentially!”

To learn more about our service trips, check out Thatsgrace.org/servicetrips.