Over this last year, there have been several trips that have left Bison hill and gone to far off places, different cultures and hurting people. We believe Global Outreach (GO) trips are valuable not only because of the experiences of the trip, but also because of the lessons and changes students bring back with them.
After the end of the last academic year, a team left Bison Hill for North Africa on a GO trip that changed the lives of each of them, as well as the lives of the people they encountered.
In May of 2021, Reagan Benton, Hudson Olmstead, Grady Liston, Cameron Clark, and Micah Compton flew to North Africa for a month-long GO trip. Their ministry primarily focused on bringing the Gospel to Muslim college students through cultural and religious conversations and relational ministry. The team got to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, climb mountains, prayer walk their city, and share the hope of the Gospel with people who had never heard it before.
Reagan Benton, a 20 year-old nursing major from Elk City, OK, was one teammate who had a special opportunity to practice medical missions through her missionary’s station as a nurse practitioner.
Reagan recounts the medical care she gave while on her trip: “I got to listen to the most insane heart arrhythmia I will probably hear in my entire career, I met the most joyful lady who was mute due to atrophy of her vocal cords, and a man who was paralyzed due to some form of muscular dystrophy wished me healing from God from my diabetes…” As a nursing major, Reagan said, “At the end of the day, I was sure of the Lord’s calling for me to nursing overseas.”
While being involved in medical missions was impactful, Reagan says that it talking with her resident missionary after giving medical care that was the most thought-provoking. It was Reagan’s resident missionary who encouraged her to embrace total submission of her plans to the Lord and His plan for her life that changed her outlook for her future.
After returning from North Africa, Reagan says that her takeaway from her trip was that “my obedience is measured simply by availability and actively leveraging everything that I have for the Gospel and leaving the results in the hands of the Lord because He has far greater plans than anything I can imagine.”
As antagonistic towards Western Culture as submission is, it is one of the many ways that Christ builds His Kingdom apart from our current one. And just as God’s kingdom is far greater than any built on Earth, so are His commands far more beneficial to us than the world’s. Just as C.S. Lewis says, “A man is not far from the gates of heaven when he is fully submissive to the Lord’s will.”
Hudson Olmstead, a 21 year-old junior Global Marketplace Engagement major, who grew up in Chengdu, China, was another teammate who had the incredible opportunity to share the Gospel with North African Muslim college students and see the fruit of their team’s conversation and relational ministry. Hudson says that “there were a lot of instances where we spent five to six hours with one group of locals, simply having a conversation, sharing the gospel, and building relationships.” One of the biggest reputations of GO trips is the challenge, whether from culture shock, language or ministry. As Hudson recounts, “My biggest expectation was that I would be stretched…This expectation was certainly met. By the middle of the trip…I hit a new level of exhaustion from being stretched to my limit. But, God was so faithful to grow me and challenge me to be better.”
Just as Hudson experienced the challenge of ministry on a GO trip, he also experienced what God promised in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)” And it was only after the experiences and feelings of challenge and growing pains that Hudson and his team found that three of the students that they were talking with vocally renounced the faith of Islam, and two of them have come to know the Lord personally, emphasizing the fact that God works just as much in the hearts of the people He uses in ministry as in the hearts of the unbelievers they minister to.
If you are thinking of joining a GO trip, both Reagan and Hudson give the simple yet challenging advice, “Go!” Reagan also points out that “a lot of what you get out of a GO trip depends on how much you are willing to put in;…be flexible and adaptable…talk to God and allow Him to stretch you…allow your heart to break…and take notes.”
GO trips are meant to be challenging because it only then that we have an opportunity to grow. No one ever changed for the better by doing exactly what they’ve been doing all along. Lastly, not only can a GO trip change you like no other experience, but it is God’s calling to His people to go and build His kingdom up in every nation. J. Hudson Taylor says, “It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”