On my more than 10-hour flight back home from Budapest recently, I had a lot of time to think. I spent the summer as an intern in Hungary with the One Mission Society team, and on my flight I was finally able to sit and analyze the experience as a whole.

And sit and analyze I did. Thanks to AirCanada, I didn’t have the typical complementary movies or entertainment to distract me, so instead I took the entirety of my flight to just reflect. As I went through the challenges, highlights, and patterns of everything I was a part of, there was one theme that seemed to come up again and again: the idea of authenticity.

Over the duration of two and a half months, I had the opportunity to be involved with several different aspects of what the Hungary team is doing. I assisted in organizing and running English Camps, as well as a partnering church’s camp.  I was also able to participate in various meetings and brainstorming sessions with potential partners about projects in the future. I aided in a grand mixture of things, all culminating to bring to light the impact of authenticity. No matter what the context, I saw how the reason behind the interaction took precedence over the action itself.

Initially, I was anxious about how exactly I would be useful in these sorts of scenarios. I was not a gifted teacher to help with the English classes at the camps, nor was I overly knowledgeable about theological or business related projects. And yet, I learned that was not what mattered most. The determining factor of building strong connections and lasting effects was not from my strengths or skill-sets, but from being humbled by God’s work through me. It was about maintaining the right focus on spreading the love of God and caring about individual people, not numerical results to make us feel good about our work and output.

For example, at the Summer English Camps that OMS put on, the students that I saw exhibit the greatest growth were not the ones that were naturally the best at language acquisition or the most outgoing. There were some students who were not ecstatic about being at an English Camp, to say the least. But by the end, those same students were some of the most caring and genuine people to talk with. The key to their flourishing was being real and straightforward with them and showing them that they are heard.

People have an innate intuition about whether or not someone is truly invested in them or being their true selves. If you act in line with your truest self, people will respect and appreciate you for it more often than not. People crave that deeper level of understanding—that no matter who they are, they are appreciated just for being themselves. That is a huge part of sharing God’s love. I have no right to judge or to say that I have everything figured out, and deep down, we all know that this is true, but owning up to it makes it so that I can put that façade to rest and focus on God’s love rather than making sure that I look capable or put together.

Over the course of the summer, I had conversations with English Camp students, staff members, and others, and I repeatedly heard that the authenticity they witnessed through some of the missionaries and volunteers was the best vision of the gospel they had experienced. They may have heard the Good News before, but human connection and the projecting of genuine love through someone was the vital difference. Hearing something and experiencing it on a personal level are two completely different things. Through conversations like those, I was humbled to see God working through me. It was not my skill-set or strengths that made the difference, but the overflow of His love. That is what people yearn for and need in their lives. I was truly honored to witness such a powerful force of God’s love at work in Hungary, and I look forward to seeing what fruit it comes to bear.

– By Cori Concepción, OMS Hungary Summer Intern