By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor
Due to the sensitive nature of the work done during some GO trips, full student names are not given in this article, nor are specific countries mentioned.
If Christians want to see the world changed, it’s their responsibility to go.
One of the unique aspects to an education on Bison Hill is the university’s deep commitment to sending students out into the world to make an impact. Leaders in the spiritual life office take seriously Jesus’ command to “go out into all the world,” and it’s to that end that the Global Outreach program on Bison Hill exists.
The GO office offers trips all over the world, as well as providing for local opportunities to serve.
These trips accomplish the key purposes of giving students hands-on experience in the ministry and of providing critical exposure to other cultures and cultural experiences.
Alena, a senior who recently visited Central America during J-Term, points not just to her time on the trip as an opportunity for growth, but her whole college career.
“[These] four years have been a very growing experience with my faith,” she said. “The friends that I’ve made on campus have pushed me to spend time in the Word every day. Also, the professors in the classroom are constantly using the Word of God in their lectures and their discussions… they always point everything back to Christ.”
It was this growth that convinced Alena to take the step of faith towards a GO trip, even though there was a lot to figure out.
“I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go,” she said.
It was the encouragement that Alena received from her Spanish professor – a mentor on the trip – and from her parents that led her to commit to Central America.
“I just felt like that was there the Lord was calling me. I applied… and I got accepted,” she said.
After making her decision, Alena had only one concern: money.
“The only hesitation I had about the trip was financially,” she said. “[It’s] a lot of money… but I knew the Lord was going to provide.”
Although the teams preparing for a GO trip receive extensive training together, it wasn’t until the trip itself that Alena’s team really meshed.
“You just grow so close to the people on your team in those three weeks,” she said. “Even though we [had] met every Tuesday for weeks [leading up to the trip], we still weren’t familiar with each other. By the end of the first week, we were all best friends, hanging out, playing card games, suffering through the power outages and the wind…we all knew what the others were going through.”
Alena says that her best moment on the trip came about through a conversation at a local family’s house.
“We got to ask them, ‘If you were to die tomorrow, do you know if you would go to heaven?’” she said. “And all the people answered they didn’t know.”
Through this conversation, Alena’s team was able to share the message with them, and the family came to know the Lord.
She also admits that there were challenges. The timing of the trip – during J-term –created a hectic schedule, as there was a very short break period between the end of the trip and the spring semester beginning.
“We flew back on a Wednesday, and school started on Monday,” Alena said.
Moriah, a senior who spent J-term on a trip to North Africa, recognized another challenge: that not every experience on a trip can be quantified.
“Obedience doesn’t always lead to visible results,” she said. “Through the experiences I had, God is teaching me that our success must be measured by obedience, not by results we see, especially when doing kingdom work.”
She found the ultimate worth in the journey to be the impact that God made on her own outlook.
“The much more valuable part of my GO trip experience to me is the changes I saw God working in my own heart and life as I was able to witness him at work day by day,” she said.
Alena’s advice for anyone considering going on a GO trip is simple.
“Just apply,” she said. “Just know that if the Lord is calling you to go on a trip, yeah it’s so hard to fundraise, but it’s so worth it in the end. The Lord will provide the money out of nowhere.”
To those in preparation for an upcoming trip, her advice is practical.
“Really research the culture that you’re going in to,” she said, also stressing the physical strain of a GO trip. “Go to the gym and walk ten miles with a backpack… be prepared for your GO trip spiritually, mentally, but also the physical aspect is so important.”