updated April 2014:
HAITI – “The next day we woke up early for church, which I was very excited about. What I found to be so amazing was how much they sang. The service was four hours long and the first two hours were dedicated to singing praises to God. The church was hot and humid and crowded but everyone seemed so happy to be there anyway. I couldn’t help but feel the presence of God in that room. I knew all these people had hard lives, lived in extreme poverty, and could be anywhere else, but they chose to be at church and to worship God and thank Him for all the blessings in their lives.
Even though I didn’t understand what they were saying or singing, I knew it was God-filled and when they began singing the Doxology in Creole, I sang in English and felt more bonded with these people than I ever thought I could. The pastor introduced us to the congregation and told them that we were here to give free dental work to anyone who wanted it. Once the service was over we had many of the people come up and kiss us on the cheek, saying thank you for being here and helping our people. It brought me to tears to see how grateful the people were for something I would consider a standard back home.” -- Shannon Baker, Senior, Lexington, KY
PERU – “I had a first-hand experience when my translator friend and I were talking to a homeless man on the side of the road. As we conversed, we learned from the man that he had arrived at his present condition because a shaman cursed him. It was a scary reality that the devil is doing treacherous work among these people, but the God we serve is stronger and the devil has no power over us.” – Adam Crisologo, Junior, Cullman, AL
KYRGYZSTAN – “Traveling to Kyrgyzstan was infinitely more eye opening and self-revelatory than I ever could have imagined. I realized that a cross-cultural experience is something that one can’t fully comprehend the need for until after the fact. There are an infinite number of trip details I never could have envisioned, which created a unique and memorable experience.” - Daniel Bowman, Senior, Wilmore, KY
PUERTO RICO – “I would like to tell you about a six foot five, fourteen year old boy named John, who loved basketball. We met John at a special Christian school for disadvantaged or unfortunate kids that just could not make it in the public schools. Some of my teammates shared with John the importance of school and grades if he wanted to play basketball. Mostly we tried to show love. After we left his classroom I noticed John was following our team around the school so I decided to talk to him. We did not talk about a whole lot but I enjoyed the time I did talk to him. We later found out that after we left John spoke in front of his class and explained he planned to kill himself but since our team had been there he no longer wanted to and had hope. I think it is amazing that God allowed us to be a part of John’s life and even see some of the fruits of our labor when we hardly did anything. For me I felt truly blessed to be on this trip.” – Kyle Combs, Junior, Jamestown, OH
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “The opportunities for me to step out in faith were abundant. I led devotions for both my team and for the volleyball camp one day—teaching from what my Heavenly Father was teaching me about His unrelenting Love—and was able to talk to several people throughout the week, even with my limited Spanish. On Sunday night,one of the sports outreach staff members, Lydia, asked me to go on an extra outing. We journeyed into Santiago to photograph the quinceañera ‘princess’ and her escorts at the Monument. I had the chance to stretch my vocabulary to its limits and to hear Lydia’s heart for Christ and wise words in our time together in the van. In Pedro, I discovered my ‘abuelito,’ a great encouragement to me. In little girls like Daniela, I saw a hunger for love that my heart now beats to satisfy. In the G.O. interns—Beth, Kendrix, and Wade—I found true friends. We spent many hours together on the roof of the church, under the stars, playing the guitar and worshipping our Savior with a few of our Dominican friends. I will never forget those precious times of deepest joy.” – Natalie Anderson, Junior, Louisville, KY
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA, U.S.A. (Cherokee Indian Reservation) – “Working in Cherokee impacted the way I see myself in relation to others. It gave me some perspective on why the Cherokee people feel the way they do about other people. It also taught me the importance of loving the people around me, not just sharing the gospel with people. I was in an environment where I was one of the only followers of Jesus. The most important thing I can do when I interact with people who don’t know Him is to simply love them and see them. More than anything, people want to be fully known and fully loved. The more I can learn to love and see people, the more of an impact I will make for the cause of Christ. It is not just preaching the Gospel. The Gospel will come forth without me forcing it. Love God. Love people. Those are the most important things.
I would not trade this experience in Cherokee, NC, for anything in the world. As an actor, I was able to experience a professional acting environment [Mountainside Theatre], while also being exposed to a hurting and broken culture. My heart aches for the Cherokee people. I pray regularly for my wonderful actor friends that I made this summer. Jesus loves them so much, and I truly believe He has filled me with love for them as well. I pray with all of my heart that a seed has been sown and that one day, they will come to know the fullness of life that Christ gives us.” – Lucy Allen, Senior, Allen, TX
Check back each month to view more inspiring words from our students!