September 15, 2002
BOLIVAR—With heavy packs on their backs, members of the Southwest Baptist University (SBU) Himalayas mission team trudged through the mountains to share the Gospel with the lost people of East Asia. Evangelism took on a new meaning as the team members literally hid small packets containing the Gospel in the mountain villages. Because of security concerns, the team was forced to hide the packets, hoping that villagers would find them several weeks after their departure.
"It was one of the toughest hikes of my life, but at times, when there was no motivation left, there would always be a person smiling at you, screaming for you to bring his people the love of the Father," senior Joe Dobbins said.
Their struggle soon proved to be worth the effort. By the end of the trip, news reached the team that villagers had begun to find and read the packets.
This past summer 57 SBU students left the comfort and convenience of their homes to share the Gospel with needy people groups across the globe. Six teams traveled to the Himalayas, inner city Chicago, Nicaragua, East Asia, the Balkans, and West Africa to spread Christ’s love. Above al, participants said, they learned to depend on the Lord and to see Him work through difficult situations.
In Chicago students served in an inner-city homeless shelter. As students helped prepare meals, care for children and clean they were able to build relationships and pray for the people around them.
"One night we were able to stay overnight at the shelter with our new friends. Sleeping on the floor in a room with a hundred other people really gave us insight into what some people go through every day," said Valerie Buchanan, team leader.
SBU missionaries to Nicaragua participated in "Operation Go," a Bible distribution project in Nicaragua. In the city of La Libertad team members made maps of the city and delivered a copy of the Gospel of Luke to every home in the city. Despite the hot and humid weather, students distributed numerous copies and completed disaster relief work in a village washed away by a flood.
Eight students journeyed to East Asia where they studied the Chinese language and culture and ministered to the Chinese students at a local university.
"I believe we were all given the opportunity to share with a friend and at least plant a seed. We also had the opportunity to encourage the Chinese Christians on our campus," said senior Delinda Bergthold.
Team members also came home with a new boldness to share the Gospel.
"While we were over there I believe most of the team came to appreciate the freedom of religion and speech we have as Americans. Many of us wonder now why we hesitate to share about our Savior when we have the freedom to do so," Bergthold said.
In the Balkans students ministered by prayer-walking the streets of Sarajevo, distributing food and clothing to refugee camps, and helping with kids clubs reaching Muslim children.
"The Balkans trip was an awesome opportunity to explore different aspects of each team member’s faith," said senior Ben Taylor.
Students in West Africa endured 125 degree heat and personal illness as they ministered to the Maranse people in the country of Burkina Faso. The team worked with Southern Baptist missionaries, focusing on evangelism, discipleship and encouraging the missionaries.
"Every day was difficult, humbling, and—by my usual standards—not good. Still every day Christ did something so unspeakably great that, by the end of each day, rejoicing, I had to say, ‘This was a good day,’" explained team member Brian Curtis, a May graduate of SBU.
Over the next year student missionaries from SBU will again travel the world. During Christmas break, students will visit Corsica, France; Houston; India; Guatemala; Kiev, Ukraine; London; and Southeast Asia. Spring break trips are planned to Peru, South Padre Island, Texas; and Chicago. Each year an average of 175 to 200 students participate in such mission trips. (Missy MacPhail is a senior public relations major and intern in the office of public relations at SBU.)