HLG students share love, the Gospel on multiple spring mission trips
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
April 13, 2004
|Angie Bevans wrestles with a group of children in Mexico. Photo courtesy of Hannibal-LaGrange College|
HANNIBAL — The recipe for missions at Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) is simple: combine a group of active college students, a dash of compassion, and a love for the lost. Shake well. Serve immediately. And serve is just what they did as 45 HLG students traveled across the country over spring break. Whether they were painting houses, doing drama, or making crafts, they learned that love transcends all barriers.
For example, 15 students made the trip to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just across the Texas border. This is HLG’s second spring break trip to Nuevo Laredo, where they worked with Awe Star Ministries. Awe Star Ministries was formed to provide discipleship and evangelism training opportunities for the local church. Besides offering students an international mission program, the program teaches participants that every believer is a missionary, and everywhere they are is a mission field.
HLG has partnered with Awe Star in the past, primarily for summer missions. Students on this team visited parks, plazas, orphanages, and a prison, using drama as their means of ministry.
|HLG students perform the drama "Freedom." Photo courtesy of Hannibal-LaGrange College|
“The drama we perform is called ‘Freedom’ and it basically tells the story of Jesus, from creation to his resurrection," said Corinne Ingram, a junior secondary English education major from Danville, Ill. “A narrator would tell the story in Spanish, while we acted out the drama. Afterwards, we would go out in teams and talk to the people with an interpreter."
Talking to strangers while having to overcome a language barrier is often difficult, but Ingram was quick to point out that God was already working in the lives of the people the team encountered.
“We were at one park, and after the drama I saw this woman and her husband crying. Both of them had accepted Christ, and we were overjoyed that the drama had ministered to them. Later we found out that the woman was blind. She hadn’t seen any of what we were doing, but she heard the Word presented. It was an awesome, humbling experience to see God work and know that it was Him, not us."
Jay Sauser, a senior Bible major from Hudson, IL, also noted the importance of relying on God from the beginning.
“This year’s trip was nothing like before," said Sauser, who traveled to Nuevo Laredo in 2003 as well. “We had lots of kinks, lots of little things going wrong before we even left Hannibal . But because of all that, we had to completely rely on prayer. It was great to see God answer those prayers and take care of all of those little things that we struggled to overcome."
Sauser, who was one of the leaders for the Mexico team, also noted the variety of opportunities to serve that the team encountered in Mexico .
“The only time we didn’t perform the drama was at an orphanage we visited," said Sauser. “We walked in and were basically tackled by these kids. We just spent all of our time there playing with them and loving them. They didn’t know English and we didn’t know Spanish, but the smiles we shared and the time we spent with them really conveyed God’s love."
The team went from the extreme of working with orphan children to visiting a men’s prison where they performed for over 100 inmates.
In all, the drama was performed nearly a dozen times for hundreds of people. The Mexico team arrived back in Hannibal sunburned, tired, and brimming with stories about the refugee town of Nuevo Laredo .
Meanwhile, for the seventh year, HLG sent students to Corpus Christi, Texas. Twenty-four students teamed up with Global Encounter and First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas , to partner with three churches, Gateway Baptist Church, Morgan Avenue Baptist Church, and Agua Cristalina Baptist Church, and two colleges, Texas A&M and Del-Mar Community College, in Corpus Christi.
When working with the churches, students canvassed the neighborhoods, promoting evening activities. They led backyard Bible clubs as well as youth events and worship services.
“We spent a lot of time loving on kids," said Megan Swaringim, a freshman from O’Fallon, Mo. “A lot of the ones who came to the activities were from really bad homes and didn’t have a strong family foundation. It was great being able to love them and show them the greatest love."
Swaringim said she quickly learned that no role on the team was insignificant, whether that meant telling a Bible story to the children or serving meals in the kitchen.
“I spent a lot of time working in the kitchen, and it was neat that I learned one of the most valuable lessons of the trip there," she said. “One evening the schedules got mixed up, and one of the groups of children arrived for dinner after we were done serving. We were worried we wouldn’t have enough, but God provided exactly enough to meet our need. He provides for us because He loves His children. He’s our Father and he cares for our smallest needs."
In addition to leading Bible clubs, the Corpus Christi team spent several afternoons at Texas A&M University and Del-Mar Community College. They assisted the Baptist Student Ministry by passing out fliers, serving free pizza, providing music, and taking surveys.
“It was interesting being able to sit down and connect with the college students we met there," said Swaringim. “The surveys we did for the BSM started with general questions and would eventually lead to more specific questions about salvation. The students I talked to were very open and receptive. We prayed for open hearts, and God constantly opened doors and allowed us to plant seeds."
Robert Compere, pastor of Gateway Baptist Church, was also excited about the seeds planted in Corpus.
“The seeds of love planted here are having lasting effects in the Kingdom of God," said Compere in a letter to HLG president Dr. Woodrow Burt. “One year ago, in March of 2003, the HLG missions team began a work in our church among the children that has grown into a permanent ministry to our community. We now average about 60 kids each Wednesday evening. This past week, the HLG missions team built on their work from a year ago. On Wednesday evening, 126 children attended the rally and heard the Good News of Christ. I know that at least one girl prayed to receive Christ into her life during private counsel."
Finally, six students traveled to New York City to work with New Hope Christian Church in Queens. The team spent most of their time in New York meeting the physical needs of those around them.
|New York – Hannibal-LaGrange students pray in front of Ground Zero in New York. The students were in New York as one of three mission trips while students were on spring break. Above the students’ heads listed are the names of those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. Superimposed over their names are the Roman numerals for 9/11. See story on HLG students’ mission work. Photo courtesy of Hannibal-LaGrange College|
“A large part of what we did was to minister to the workers there so they could in turn minister to others," said April Young, a sophomore English education major from Potosi. “Our first few days we spent painting and doing repair work on the apartment of a missionary who worked with Russians in New York City. It was such a need for her, and we were happy to help so she could spend her time with the people she was called to work with."
Team members also worked on the pastor’s house, doing basic repair work.
“The pastor of New Hope and his wife are so busy serving the community, and their four kids, that we thought we would take care of some of the things he hadn’t had time to do," said Travis Webb, a senior Bible major from Mack’s Creek. “It was a very real, tangible way to serve, and to see how ministry is done. I learned so much on this trip that there are many ways to do ministry as long as Jesus is the center."
The team also spent time prayer walking and passing out fliers for activities at New Hope. They encountered a wide variety of people as they experienced first-hand the melting pot that is New York.
“New York is the most culturally diverse place in the nation," said Webb. “The people I met were spiritually diverse as well. When we were handing out fliers, some people would shut down as soon as they heard the word ‘church.’ Others were so interested in what we had to say. What a difference it makes when the Holy Spirit is already working."
HLG students spent time prayer walking and witnessing to people in the neighborhoods surrounding the church. Tom Richter, senior pastor at New Hope, stressed the importance of covering the city in prayer.
“You can sense God ‘tilling the soil’ of the hearts of the people here in Queens , NYC, and I believe it is a result of the prayers of believers in this area and around the country," said Richter. “The team from Hannibal worked hard and accomplished much, but I was most pleased by how they demonstrated their faith in prayer walking the neighborhoods around our church, as well as witnessing to passersby. Just a week after they did this, a Sikh woman prayed to receive Christ outside Queens Hospital, the exact area the HLG team prayed over. A good mission team works hard but never forgets where the power comes from. HLG sent such a team."
In all, HLG students were able to see 150 people accept Christ over Spring break.