Missions starts at home for SBU spring break team; two other trips send students to Texas and Belaru
By Scott Vestal
student assistant for SBU PR
May 11, 2004
Kevin Hill says that most people think missions as being overseas, but he and 14 other Southwest Baptist University students spent their spring break helping people next door.
Getting the opportunity to serve near campus is just as important as traveling to an international location, shares Hill, BA ’03, a ministry intern from Kansas City. “It was great to see us get an opportunity to share the love of Christ with people who live right next door.”
The team helped five different ministries in Springfield and Bolivar during SBU’s spring break last month. The students helped with a youth service at Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church in Springfield, and worked in a thrift store at Intervention Ministries in Bolivar. The students also sorted through a shipment of clothes and food for the Convoy of Hope who distribute supplies to families in need. At the Victory Mission, students helped to transform a former “crack house” into low-income apartments in downtown Springfield. The team also participated in a Bible club for children who live at Forest Park Apartments in Springfield.
According to John Tucker, director of missions at SBU and leader of the team, getting involved in missions creates opportunities. “The trip was a big success and it fit within our strategy in providing missions locally. The trip also gave students the chance to get plugged in with all the local ministries with the hope of staying involved.”
Two other SBU teams participated in mission trips during spring break including one to South Padre Island, Texas, and Belarus, Russia.
A team of 30 SBU students participated in a ministry called “Beach Reach” in South Padre Island . Throughout the week, the team provided a van ministry for spring breakers who needed a ride, and participated in a midnight and morning pancake breakfast service, which gave the SBU team the opportunity to minister to vacationers.
The team was involved in a sand-sculpting ministry, which allowed students to attract people on the beach so they could witness and share the love of Jesus Christ. Some of the vacationers destroyed a sand sculpture and threw trash on the beach while other vacationers constructed a cross nearby, shares Nicolette Taylor, administrative assistant to the dean of the Casebolt College of Music, Arts and Letters at SBU and leader of the team. “The team took the opportunity to reach out to these people.”
The trip exceeded every expectation the team had for the trip. “We started praying the very first day we arrived and God answered everyone’s prayer,” says Amy Butts, a freshman history major from Independence. Although the trip had a few challenges, it was nothing like the one experienced by the students who traveled to Belarus.
A law restricting people from participating in religious activities in Belarus was an accepted limitation for the 11-member team from SBU. The students ministered to people through conversational English. They spent their week at a university in Gorky, Belarus, where they participated in a question and answer time for college students about the Christian faith. The team also was involved with a church where they had English training and witnessing to people one on one.
One night the team was able to reach out to a man who denied Jesus, shares Joe Funderburk, BA ’97, college and singles minister for First Baptist Church in Bolivar and the team leader. “We witnessed to him and later that week he gave his life to Jesus Christ.”
Although the team had limited contact with the citizens of Belarus, they were able to bring light to a restricted country and were able to pray that God would move in the hearts of His people.