SBU students carry the Gospel on six mission trips
By Jonathon Robert
March 10, 2005
BOLIVAR — Twenty-five years in the making, the Southwest Baptist University (SBU) missions department has been dedicated to continually serving and building relationships that impact the vast array of people in countries around the world.
Six missions trips were taken this winter that built on the foundation of the many years of service that SBU’s mission teams have provided. The teams that traveled this winter were able to reach the immediate needs of recent disasters, such as the tsunami in Asia, as well as meeting their ultimate goal of spreading the Gospel through more than just words.
For the third year, this year’s trip to the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, provided many opportunities to reach those in need. This year, the shores of Sri Lanka were devastated by a tsunami leaving many victims without the basic essentials to survive. The location of SBU’s team was crucial in that they were able to provide several water filters. Along with this aid, SBU’s team was still able to perform their regular services. These opportunities ranged from teaching English and health, using scripture in the grade schools to building water filters.
During the last 10 years, SBU has partnered with Global Encounters to biannually reach the people of Chandigarh, India. This year, SBU’s team of 13 collaborated with 67 individuals from Houston, Texas; Greene County, Mo.; and Hannibal-LaGrange College to minister to more than 15,000 non-believers. Through their ministry in six major cities in northern India, they were able to bring 1,100 to salvation. “The struggle that our team or anyone who travels to India has to overcome is the intense poverty caused by a religion that is dead and traps people into sin,” said shared team leader Sean Smith.
Sometimes mission trips are best fortified in our own back yard. Over eight years of dedicated service has been given to the youth and community of Houston, Texas. “The children were able to see the students working at their schools, and see that they have big servant hearts, while also allowing the teachers to know that a group from Missouri actually paid money to come to serve them,” said Kristi Kerr, December 2004 graduate.
Guatemala’s team of 14 provided round-the-clock assistance to an orphanage where many of the babies had chicken pox. The team provided substantial help with many odd jobs and was also able to relieve the entire staff of their duties at the orphanage to allow them to attend a two-day retreat. “It is pleasing to know that they feel this confident and comfortable with the SBU team,” shares Kelly Rehm, assistant director of missions at SBU. This was the fifth consecutive year for SBU to provide this support in Guatemala.
The ultimate goal of every mission trip is to take Christ’s message to people of the world who have never heard it before. In Senegal, West Africa, the SBU mission team was able to accomplish that goal through sharing the Jesus film and teaching the Gospel of Luke.
In the region where the Gospel was originated, one would assume that Turkey would be a rich location to go into the depths of the Christian religion. Today, this is not the case. Turkey is deemed to be one of the most unreached nations in the world. The major city of Istanbul has a population of approximately 10 million where only 3,500 believers are known to exist.
Team leader Nicky Ward depicts a story of the ancient church Hagia Sophya, which had Christian symbols painted over with Muslim relics, and crosses etched in stone that were scratched out. According to Ward, “Seeing the restoration of this church seems as though it is a prophetic indication of what is to come in the resurrection of the church body.”
In all, there were a total of 70 individuals from SBU that were able to impact the lives of thousands of people from around the world this winter break. (Jonathon Robert is a graduate assistant in the office of development. He is a 2004 graduate of SBU and is pursuing a masters of business administration.)