Sharing God's Mercy with Others

07/01/2016 .
Diane Calcaterra  .  Volunteer Storyteller

With beaming eyes and an engaging smile, Jey Roy leans forward in the chair to share a mission story that began in a small Baptist church in Los Angeles. “It was a typical small church on the corner, and my mom and dad were big on going to church,” explains Jey. “My dad was such a strong leader and insisted we walk to church to enjoy the stroll.” All dressed up in suit and tie, young Jey would follow in dad’s footsteps; on the walk to church and on the path to serving others.

Although serving the church was highly regarded in Jeys’ family, he didn’t give the actual choice much thought. “My mom and dad both served. They were ushers, so they chose that role for me when they brought me before the junior usher board.” One Sunday the mission team spoke about their work and upcoming projects. “During their report, one of the ladies shouted out, ‘We want more men in the missions.’ But I thought, that’s not me. I’m just a boy,” remembers Jey. “For us in our small church, these ladies dressed in white did mission work and I wasn’t one of them.” Labeling mission work as women’s work, Jey dismissed their plea for volunteers.

Jey eventually found his own sweet spot of service by working with children and youth through a student ministry group in Long Beach. He served as a volunteer at a Christian summer camp and then as a counselor-in-training intern. Jey was working toward becoming a Children’s Leader for the camp when his journey led him to Saddleback Church and a Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry conference. After participating in the three-day workshop and attending services for the next two years, Jey realized he had found a new church home. “Saddleback has a place for everyone. I found a church where I could continue being fed the Word of God and grow as a Christian to do more for the kingdom of God.” Jey became a member and immediately began serving.

Jey continued to get involved at Saddleback and he joined a Small Group. When he took Saddleback’s Class 401: Discovering My Life Mission, Jey still held the belief that mission work wasn’t for him. Jey laughs when he recalls the deal he privately struck with God. “I knew it was time to take Class 401, but I prayed, ‘God, I’m not going on any trips.’ I would take the class, but that’s it. Mission trips were not for me.”

God had a different plan for his life, a plan that began unfolding in his small group. “I found myself praying with people who had been going overseas,” recalls Jey. “They were making a big difference in the lives of others.” Tagging along with a man from his group, Jey attended a PEACE Night meeting and connected with a few people on a mission team bound for Jordan. It was a good team, and Jey liked the group. Jey stepped further out in faith, “I’m in with you guys. Let’s go!”

In Jordan, Jey worried his lack of experience might limit him. “We went to Jordan to teach conversational English during the evenings, but once we got there, realized they needed help with a local Baptist church’s youth sports camp.” Something Jey knew how to do well after his years of experience with young people at summer camp.

A consistent thread stood out in the tapestry of Jey’s life: working with children. “This was something I knew. This I could do. I learned a lot about the children and the culture through my work at the sports camp,” explained Jey. “I realized the kids over there are the same as the kids over here. They may have different backgrounds, but they have the same fears and struggles, the same dreams and desires. They’re struggling with guys and girls and relationships, and many of the same temptations. I found I could relate to them easily.”

Playing a small role in bridging the faith-divide inspired him, “Since many Jordanians display such great hospitality, I’d be invited over to dinner. Here we were — a Christian man and a Muslim man — sitting down at the same table, eating a meal together, and sharing parts of our lives. It was an amazing experience to share the truth of God’s mercy with others.”

Jey’s life has come full circle — from a small Baptist church on the corner to a small Baptist church on the other side of the world, from a local summer camp in Long Beach to a church youth sports camp in Jordan.

“I went there to see what the church could do for the people of Jordan, but they taught me more about myself,” explained Jey. “For me, mission work is about two different people appreciating each other without passing judgment. I learned the importance of embracing others and showing appreciation for their beliefs. I now understand the mercy of acceptance. Through faith, I’m able to bridge the gap between their world, their culture, and mine.“

With a knowing smile and a cautionary tone, Jey quickly adds, “I also learned this. Don’t be so quick to say you won’t do something for the church, because that just might be the place God plans to use you.”

Click HERE to view upcoming times and locations for Class 401 at Saddleback Church. If you'd like to learn more about how to get involved in a PEACE Trip click HERE.