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By Carmen Ensinger
A few days after turning the ripe old age of 21, Zachary Flowers was on a jet plane heading out to far-away third-world countries to share the word of God with others for the second time.
Flowers, a 2019 graduate of Carrollton High School, left this past Saturday on a nine-month mission trip that will take him to Cambodia, Thailand, South Africa and then to Guatemala before returning to the United States.
The trip is sponsored through an organization called The World Race, which is for young adults ages 18 through 21.
“There will be 40 of us going this time around and I actually have the opportunity to lead a squad and head up a group of guys within that squad,” Flowers said. “I am really excited to be a leader this time. On the last trip I was on, they chose me as a raised-up team leader for the group of guys I was working with, but then on this trip the organization offered me this position, which I accepted.”
You see, it was only two months ago that Flowers returned from a nine-month mission trip, through this same organization, that took him to the countries of South Africa, Guatemala and Ecuador. He returned to his home in Carrollton in May to spend time with his family, which includes his father and mother, Rodney and Tiffany Flowers and his younger sister.
“On this last trip I started to worry a lot about the future and was just really consumed about what I was going to do after this trip,” he said. “It was just consuming me and it was distracting me from living there in the moment and serving to the best of my ability.”
So, he prayed about it and God spoke to him.
“One day when I was walking to our ministry in South Africa, God spoke to me and said, ‘Zach, I am going to send you out again and it is going to be after the summer but it is going to be a last second decision,’” he said. “So I held onto that message from God about my future and went on to Ecuador.”
Flowers said he was still worried about his future, to a degree, but not nearly as much as when he first started out. And then it happened…
“The guide from the organization came to me that last week we were in Ecuador and said to me, ‘Zach, I want you on my team on our next mission trip. I’m going back after the summer. I’m going to give you some time to think and pray about it before you give me your answer,’” Flowers said. “We were busy preparing to go back home and there was a lot to do so I really didn’t give it much thought at the time.”
Once they were back on United States soil, things changed quickly – the time frame that Flowers had to make up his mind narrowed immensely.
“We were back in Georgia where we do our training to be debriefed on our trip and Bill comes back to me and says, ‘I’m sorry, but I need you to give me an answer before you go home,’” Flowers said. “I’m like, oh my goodness, Bill, that is so soon and so that night I was very distraught.”
Once again, he turned to God for the answer to his quandary.
“I was walking and it was a very clear night and I’m crying out to God and I just said, ‘God, if you want me to go on this trip, send two shooting stars over my head and if not – send just one,” Flowers said. “I’m not joking, five seconds later I look up and there goes one across the sky and then one kind of shoots towards me and I’m like, okay, there is my answer.”
From there, Flowers said an overwhelming peace washed over him.
“At this point, I realized that what God had initially told me about sending me out again had been confirmed,” Flowers said. “I realized it was a last second thing and that it is going to be after summer. So, I’m going back out again and to even farther places. There was no need for me to worry about my future at all. That is why I’m going back out again and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Actually, it fits in perfectly with the two things that Flowers loves the most – traveling and the great outdoors.
“I love to travel so being able to go to all of these places that I would otherwise probably never be able to see is great,” he said. “I also love the outdoors, so that fits right in. But I also love being able to disciple to these young adults and minister to the people of these countries.”
When asked what their organization does on these mission trips, Flowers stressed that the biggest thing is that they don’t come into a country on their own accord.
“We partner with ministries that are already established in these places,” Flowers said. “For example, in Guatemala, we worked with this organization called One Way, who were guys that were around our same age. We became amazing friends with them.”
Flowers said there is a big hunger crisis going on down there and that One Way is well funded by people in the United States.
“This organization comes in and gives the people the food and brings in the truth of Jesus Christ and the culture,” Flowers said. “Then we come in and help out with the kids, loving on them, bringing more food and spending lots of time just hanging out with them. We established a soccer ministry, we visited the homes and just sat down with them and helped them where they needed it.”
Each country was different and had different needs. Some places they worked on a lot of building projects and performed building maintenance on established structures.
“We built a lot of houses for families,” Flowers said. “They weren’t anything fancy – just simple little tin roof structures with sides to them to keep them out of the elements.”
Everyone who goes on these mission trips is expected to provide for their own expenses.
“Each of us had to raise a set amount of money to be able to go on this mission trip and to also have some personal money to be able to buy food and clothing with and be able to provide for some of our basic needs,” Flowers said. “I decided that the best way for me to raise this money was to go around to the churches here in Carrollton and talk about my last mission trip. I even went to one in Greenfield.”
Flowers said the response from these churches and their congregations was nothing short of amazing.
“It has been amazing to see how much love and support there is in this community,” he said. “I have just been overwhelmed and it has been a very humbling experience for me. It has been incredible to see the community all come together in that way to support me in this trip.”