Alan and Rebekah Nogle of Manila recently returned from their first missionary trip to Chennai, India, with a grateful heart and making plans for next year. They hope this is the first of many opportunities they will have to serve and look forward to returning to India next year.
"We always thought some day we would go overseas on a mission trip but we never thought it would be now or even to India," Mrs. Nogle said.
She said a guest speaker at their home church, a missionary, told them as he was leaving that God had led him to share a message with them and if they had the opportunity to go on a missionary trip, just go.
"He said, don't worry about the cost or the details," Rebekah said. "He told us if we had the opportunity to just accept it. The very next day we got a call from the missionary leaders getting people together for a trip to India."
They did not hesitate to accept the call and Mrs. Nogle said God provided.
She is quick to mention Shannon Haggard, mission coordinator in their church in Manila.
"She gave us support and kept everyone in prayer for us and helped organize our trip," Rebekah said. "We didn't have to ask, but so many people helped us because they said they felt led to do so."
It was a five person mission trip and it was the first time out of the country for four of them.
They had the opportunity to work with Pastor and Mrs. Ruban Hobday, at the main church in Chennai. Pastor Ruban serves as the liaison between America and India dealing with commercial trade and Mrs. Hobday is a dentist.
They also had the opportunity to visit villages, helped with Bible School, attended a Conference where Alan helped with the services, and Rebekah had the opportunity to talk to the young women.
She said about 250 people gathered every night for the conference.
"I had never been overseas but I had never been to a big city before," Mrs. Nogle said. "It was a new experience for me. Chennai had three million people. The people were so friendly and helpful. Almost everyone in the main church is very educated with college degrees. The young people are serious about education. They pray to God to open their minds for knowledge. Most of the people we met were Christians and they wanted to learn more."
Alan and Rebekah drove to Nashville, flew to Chicago, then 14 hours to Abu Dhabi, and then had a six hour flight to Chennai. Rebekah said they learned what people meant when they talked about jet lag. The time passed quickly and before they knew it, it was time to return home. She hopes they can go for two full weeks next year which will give them a little more time to work with the people.
"Everyone was so nice to us," she said. "We went to one restaurant and the people wanted to honor us and gave us a tour of the kitchen. We went shopping one day and each of us was assigned a helper which made it so much easier for us. All of it was a great experience but we especially enjoyed visiting with the local people. The ministry is through the Joshua Generation Youth Church, United Pentecostal Church International."
Rebekah did a lot of praying during her time in India. She prayed every time she was in a vehicle.
"The traffic is terrible," she said. "The streets are two lane but they make it five across. The road language is horns beeping every 30 seconds.
Rebekah said she is not surprised she married a minister.
"People talk of ministers being called, but I always felt I was being called to be a minister's wife," she said.
Alan works at Harsco and Rebekah is a student at Arkansas Northeastern College. She is majoring in education and plans to teach in the middle school level.