First time on foreign mission field yields fruit
Member from Hillcrest Baptist transformed
by trip to Venezuela
LEBANON—Nothing quite can top the feeling of a Missouri Baptist going on a foreign mission trip for the first time.
“It was a big shock,” said Tiffany Woodcock, a 27-year-old mother of two small children who joined 13 other people from her church, Hillcrest Baptist in Lebanon, and a couple from Rockaway Beach on a sports mission trip to Venezuela this summer. A total of 150 professed faith in Christ.
“I’ve been to three different states other than Missouri, so I’m not a big travel person,” Woodcock explained. “To actually leave the country was a definite shock. To go to a place where children are running around with no clothes, no shoes, the streets are just filthy … it was definitely an eye-opening experience.”
Woodcock’s mother, Yvonne George, is a member of North Shore Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. She said her daughter went through a type of an awakening July 26-Aug. 4 when she stepped out on the mission field.
She found extreme poverty in Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city.
“To see those kids look at you, and just come up to you with open arms … I’m going to cry,” Woodcock said. “Every time I talk about it I cry. It made me realize that there are kids and adults out there that don’t have the luxuries that we have, and they’re still so open-hearted, and so filled with emotions. They just want to grasp the spirit of God.”
Evangelism through sports was the Hillcrest team’s method. They took a variety of equipment, including the “Ball of Many Colors,” a multi-colored soccer ball that has been used in many settings overseas to evangelize. Short-term missionaries are trained to use the colors on the ball to tell the story of Christ dying on the cross and rising from the grave to show us the narrow and true way to heaven. Typically the ball is a good tool, and it proved to be so once again in Venezuela.
“The soccer ball was our No. 1 hit,” Woodcock said. “They loved it. To be a kid, you want something that you can associate with, and the soccer ball did it for most of them.”
The mission trip has made Hillcrest Baptist more aware of pockets of darkness in Lebanon, Woodcock said.
“We work more now out in the community,” she said. “We go out to the neighborhoods where most people wouldn’t even go to and invite them to our church. It’s just really opened up our church to a whole new mindset on missions.”