by Allison Pari
This summer, students from The Master's College dispersed to four continents as part of the school’s Global Outreach program, which focuses on international missions. Whether the students were ministering to children with disabilities in Haiti, helping hospital workers in Bangladesh or engaged in a church planting effort in the Republic of Georgia, the goal was to give them a glimpse of cross-cultural evangelism, Christian fellowship and service.
The Master's College sent out 11 teams this year:
Many of the 69 students remarked that they came back to the United States changed by what they experienced. For some it was a step outside their comfort zone. For others it was a confirmation of the work they believed God had called them to do.
The stories each student could tell are numerous.
One member of Team Indonesia described how a simple trip to buy fruit for his team turned into a humbling experience that taught him a valuable lesson about pride and self-sufficiency.
When he was unable to find a fruit market, the team member tried to ask the locals for help, but could not remember the Indonesian word for fruit. His failed attempts to communicate resulted in a free motorbike ride 4 kilometers in the wrong direction. When he finally made it back to his team with the fruit, they were getting ready to go out and look for him.
But as he served, his own failures taught him about God’s grace.
“The days were not easy, but found us alternating between homesickness, food sickness, and germ sickness—wrestling with our own ever-present sin,” he wrote on his blog. “When I stepped off that plane in Jakarta, I was—disappointingly—the same person. I had not suddenly become an industrious saint with pure motives, sold-out for the Gospel. But I still struggled with apathy, laziness, pride, selfishness…, anger, discontentment… Back home in America, I now look back and reflect—the times where God dramatically answered prayer, or changed my attitude, or opened my eyes to the global Christian church—that still happened to the same me. I can still pray to God, because God’s faithfulness was reinforced in the uncertainty of another culture. I can still change my attitude to love those who I often fail to love, especially my family, because the Lord showed me how to love people I never knew about before this trip. And I can continue to pray for Christians all over the world and take a more humble view of my own theology because of so many opportunities to worship cross-culturally.”
While the mission of each team was the same, sometimes their roles were very different. Team Indonesia served with seminary students at a Bible college and with children who lived on the landfill where their parents worked. A world away, Team Haiti served in Port au Prince at an orphanage for people with disabilities.
The trip to Haiti reminded one team member to put love of others over physical comfort. She was also further encouraged to pursue a career in special needs education.
“I feel more confident in my goal in becoming a special needs teacher,” she wrote. “Starting in about one month, I will start as a special needs aid in a classroom and I feel more confident in working with those with special needs. I am more knowledgeable in the historical and theological aspects of disabilities and I know more practical applications.”
Working in a third world country for six weeks cast the privilege and ease of American life in stark relief for one member of Team Uganda. He said that he was struck by the massive gap between lifestyles when he returned to the U.S., where he could choose between five or six supermarkets instead of just eating for survival.
“With the possible exception of some interaction with certain traveler families in Ireland, I had never seen true poverty before going to Uganda. Everywhere I looked, everywhere I went, I felt it, heard it, smelt it, saw it,” he said. “Houses made of mud, shirts more worn out and dirty than even my ‘work’ clothes, and a huge lack of hygiene standards… As I settle back into my life in America, I’m really not settled. I’m convicted by how much my life centers around my desires. The things I want distract me from the things I need. This continues to affect the way I make decisions and interact with people.”
But more important than any of the lessons these students learned was the impact they made for the gospel, whether it was through one-on-one evangelism, English language classes, service through construction work or sports ministry.
In Taipei, Team Taiwan used English education to reach high school and university students. Of those students, one responded with a particular interest in the Bible, even though she came from a Buddhist family.
One of the team members told the story of how they came to know “Jane” and pursued her with the love of Christ:
“At the public high school, we were involved in the English corner. The first week here, I had a group of girls and one of them was…‘Jane.’ She came to every single session, invited our team out on multiple occasions, and we all became quick friends. She was so eager to reach out to us and learn our language… Now ‘Jane’ comes from a strict Buddhist family and from forming a relationship with her, I began to see that a lot of their beliefs are centered on luck, good fortune, and familial respect. For example, she was not allowed to cut her hair in fear that it would bring her bad fortune on the upcoming tests.
“‘Jane’ is interested in pursuing English, though, and the students work hard at their pursuits. When we invited her to the English Bible study, she got her parent’s permission and talked to her English teacher about it. He told her that to learn English, she must know the Bible as well. I do not know where that teacher was coming from but I’m really (glad) God used him for that advice! So she came to the Bible study and was in my group. L--- did a great job presenting the entire Gospel through John, chapter three. ‘Jane’ understood it! She would ask questions and answer questions because she was interested in understanding, not only the English, but what we believe in. After we left, she even messaged me saying she went to the study the next week, without us even inviting her or pushing her to. I have no idea what God’s plans are. From our interactions, His truth remained at her head level but I love that she found it interesting and worthy of pursuit, even if learning English is the main motivation.”
The stories and 69 individual impressions of a summer in missions are far too many to print. This is just a small sampling of the impact that The Master’s College Global Outreach program has made around the world.
For more information about Global Outreach, click here.