PUBLISHED AUG 2013:
HONDURAS – “At first I believed I was going on the mission trip to work with kids, but what I learned while there is I was on the trip to help the team communicate with the kids and vice versa. In a way, I was like a mediator between those who talked English and those who spoke Spanish. While at first it frustrated me because it took away from my time with the kids, I realized that what I was doing was what I need for my relationship with God. I am in need of Christ to mediate between the one amazing God and sinful me. I came to realize what a mediator did for me and God. Without Christ I would not be able to communicate with God. That may be frustrating at first but people stop trying after a while, like kids in Honduras illustrated. Upon realizing someone doesn’t speak the same language many times, after trying to get their point across for a little bit, they simply turned away and went to talk to someone else who spoke their language. This happens to some Christians as they get frustrated if they can’t see or understand what God is doing and they turn away. It is truly amazing to realize how important a mediator is for my relationship with God. Thanks to the trip, I have become more thankful of Christ and my relationship with God.” – Charlotte Castro, Sophomore, Lexington, KY
SENEGAL – “One thing that God had placed on my heart before leaving for the summer was to reach out to those needy people who don’t get that much attention and love every day. The beggars need God’s love just as much as anyone else, and I felt it was important for me to do my part in caring for them as much as possible. I wasn’t too focused on the evangelism part of reaching out to them, but what I wanted to really focus on was making friendships and relationships with the people and showing God’s love to them that way. I started a street ministry called ‘Walk and Talk.’ Students from Dakar Academy could meet up, buy food and water, and go out to the main streets by the school and just talk to the beggars that were around. Little did I know that this street ministry would last all through the summer and the following school year. ‘Walk and Talk’ grew throughout the school year and God continued to work in the beggars’ lives. When I left after the summer, I would get updates every now and then about how the ministry was doing and every time I would hear about a new miracle happening in a Senegalese’s life. I couldn’t help but be so overfilled with joy because God let this once small ministry grow to be so huge and so impacting. I never knew God would use me and my talents and passion for him to be able to reach out to this many people and start such a ministry.” – Kortnie Walters, Freshman, Arvada, CO
ITALY – “Overall this was a fantastic unforgettable experience. We were allowed the opportunity to grow as a choir and as a group of students. I learned that it does not matter what culture or background you come from. What matters is that you are able to create relationships with other Christians and children of God through the gifts God has given you. I learned that the Asbury University Chorale is made of unique individuals that strive to share their gifts with others in hope of sharing God’s love to them. I am so grateful to the university and Dr. Bell for allowing me to have this once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope to use what I have learned about the Italian culture and the body of Christ to explain to others how vast God’s love is. If it were not for this experience, I would not understand the power of music or the power of God in the same way. I am extremely thankful for this experience, and for the impact that we may have had in Italy.” – Mary Stricklin, Junior, DeLand, FL
EL SALVADOR – “Have you ever had an experience that changed your view on the entire world? I do not mean an experience that was memorable, or that you had a great time. I mean an experience that once it is over, you will never be able to forget it because it opened your eyes to how narrow your view of the world around you was. An experience that showed you how different other cultures and standards of living were compared to yours, and made you realize that your own language was not the only one in the world. This type of experience is strong enough to change your entire worldview, and for me it happened in the space of a week.” -- Jeremy Hall, Freshman, Lancaster, OH
HAITI – “Every person on the team was able to use his or her strengths and abilities. We had several students who could not lift a cinder block, but could hold and play with three kids at a time, or keep up in a game of soccer against the natives. This was God’s way of telling me that love is one thing, but it can be displayed in so many different ways. There is no such thing as saying, ‘Because I am working, I am loving more.’ We were all spreading the love of the kingdom by being present, having an attitude that reflects Christ, and keep on keeping on.
The one person that stands out to me the most when I remember Haiti is a small child named Edwo. This little boy wanted to be held at all times. Edwo longed for love, even though we couldn’t verbally communicate with him. Edwo would hang on to people with an iron grip. I could be digging holes, throwing buckets, or jumping rope, and I could never lose him because he’d be on my back. Even though he didn’t know English, he repeated every word I said to him with quiet, but perfect pronunciation. I saw Christ in him because I believe this is how I should act as a child of God. Hang on to God even when times get hard. Repeat what God says even if I don’t understand it at the time.” -- Kiley Koeppe, Sophomore, Leo, IN
COSTA RICA – “I love seeing the beauty that God brings from pain. Looking at some of the kids, you would never know what they had gone through. Is it easy to hear their stories? NO. Is it easy to look into their innocent faces and know that they have been used and abused? NO. But now when I pray, I don’t see numbers and statistics, I see faces and names. These kids are my little brothers and sisters, and I will fight for them. If it were Jenna or Briana (my younger sisters) on the streets, one would question my love if I did not do everything in my power to bring them freedom and redemption. It is the same there. If I do not fight for them, do I truly love them? The main phrases from this summer that God ingrained on my heart were: never forget that God is faithful, never forget that God is good, never forget that God is BIG, and never forget that God loves you.” -- Megan Kuhl, Junior, Wilmore, KY
PUBLISHED OCT 2013:
BELIZE – “God taught me amazing things on this trip. I’ve been on missions trips before, but on this one, we were put into their lifestyles. We got to experience what it was like to have basically nothing physically, but to be spiritually whole. God showed me just how comfortable I was with my life, and changed that immensely. He showed me about relying fully on Him and what He is going to provide and do for me, instead of depending on material possessions.” – Miranda Burdeshaw, Freshman, Dothan, AL
NICARAGUA – “Watching the children in Nicaragua made me think about the kids in America. Children here in America, for the most part, are so use to getting new toys and new clothes every year for every holiday. I was one of those kids, and I am still like that today. I can’t wait until August because I know I am going to get new clothes for the new school year, and if I don’t get that much, I get upset. It’s not right, but it’s true. I love new clothes. But I went to Nicaragua and saw how these children dressed and acted. They were dirty and wore rags most of the time, but they were always wearing a smile. I might be dressed in nice clothes, but I am not always happy. The new clothes make me happy for a week or two, but then the new clothes are old clothes. But a smile can last forever.” – Elisabeth Cox, Junior, Versailles, KY
IRELAND – “What I learned from all these people was amazing. I learned that God is not an American. Let it soak in for a minute. God is not an American. I learned that sometimes in our culture, we get so wrapped up in what we are doing with our country, that we forget the rest of the world. These people taught me that there are completely different ways of life outside of the American culture. My vision was so narrowed from the culture I had always grown up in, but these people taught me to be more open-minded.” – Nick Grounds, Sophomore, Lexington, KY
EUROPE – “One of my first ‘wow’ moments was in London standing in front of Westminster Abby. Being right where so many kings and queens have been was incredible. Also, just how vital this place was in history was really neat. The most fascinating thing for me though was the statues of the martyrs outside the church. It’s always interesting to hear about people who stood for their faith in the face of death. Some of their stories sent chills down my spine. It challenged me to think about my own faith and my own love for God. Would I stand up for God when threatened with death? It’s easy to say, ‘Of course I would! There is no doubt in my mind!’ But, it is a whole other thing to actually be faced with the situation. I know the Lord would give me the strength to stand up for Him, but it is still a convicting thought.
My ‘wow’ moment in Rouen was seeing where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. She was a remarkable woman. She heard God’s calling and followed it immediately. She did not delay in her obedience to the Lord. She trusted Him completely and was willing to die because she knew she was doing what God called her to do. She is such a huge figure in French history, and seeing where she was burned was a remarkable experience.
After we went to Rouen, we went to Normandy, and I had one last ‘wow’ moment. A hush fell over our group when we went to the American cemetery. There were so many lives lost in the attacks on Normandy in World War II. If I remember correctly, there were over 6,000 graves. So many soldiers gave their lives fighting for their country, for our freedom. These men showed intense loyalty and dedication to their country. They were willing to become soldiers, leave their families and friends, and fight for America knowing that there was a great possibility that they would die. Being there gave me a new respect for the men and women who fight for my freedoms.” Fairynne Mathison, Sophomore, Weirton, WV
GUATEMALA – “Throughout this whole trip I felt so many different emotions, and God really moved through me and guided me to make decisions on what I really want to do with my life. It had been on my heart before going on this trip that maybe my love for traveling, people, and Jesus meant that I am called to the mission field But having no experience on mission trips, I wasn’t sure if I was really ready to make an educational decision to study missions at school. With all that happened and how much I learned and grew and helped others grow, I really decided that missions is what I want to go into. We are all called to do some form of missions, to tell the world of our Savior Jesus Christ, and going on this trip made it so clear that this is what God planned for me, that this is what God wants me to do with my life. I know it won’t always be an easy thing, but I know that it will be a worthy thing to go. God really showed me what love was on this trip and what it’s like to be loved even by complete strangers from a foreign place. His grace got me on this trip by providing for me financially, and I truly believe it’s because He wanted me to see what is going on in Guatemala and how badly they need Jesus and how badly I need Jesus.” -- Jamie Baker, Sophomore, Lexington, KY
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “My December trip to the Dominican Republic marked many firsts for me. It was my first time out of the country, my first mission trip, and the first time I had really opened up my heart and allowed God to initiate a change in my life. It was a truly wonderful and life-changing experience that really opened my eyes to what Christians are called to do in this life. I didn’t know what exactly this trip had to offer me spiritually, but I knew that it would change me by the time I returned to the States.
On the morning of our departure from this beautiful country we had all come to love, we held a sunrise baptism service. It was there along the shores of the Caribbean Sea, surrounded by friends and teammates, that I and two of my brothers in Christ professed our love for and belief in the one true God and His Son Jesus who came to Earth to die on the cross to wash away our sins.” – Chad Warner, Senior, Lexington, KY
PUBLISHED NOV 2013:
BRAZIL – “Though I had many, my personal favorite love success story involved a nine-year-old boy named Willian. Ever since we arrived, Willian had always been a loner. He was overly aggressive and insecure because he walked with a limp from his abuse. One day, I was walking down to the small livestock barn with a few of the orphans, and Willian came along. We were going to feed the chickens and two baby calves. I got everything ready and gave the bottles of milk to two of the little boys. As they fed the calves, I took pictures of everyone interacting with the animals. Willian watched my camera with amazed interest for a while then cautiously came over. He asked if he could try, and I handed him the camera. He took a few pictures of me, and I did silly poses with his younger brother, Gabriel. For the first time in the week I had been at the orphanage, Willian smiled and laughed. We switched positions and I took pictures of Willian chasing chickens with a huge smile on his face. As we walked back, I told him I had fun and asked if I could take a picture of the two of us. At first he seemed hesitant, but then smiled and we took the picture. I said thank you and he gave me a hug. This was very out of character for Willian, because he had issues expressing emotions. I hugged him back and then, with a smile, he gave me a little punch, which I also returned. Even though this was a very small breakthrough for Willian, I knew I had planted a seed of God’s love in Willian’s heart.
Before this trip, I was planning to attend Asbury University as a Psychology major and Media Communications minor. Through this trip, God showed me a drastically different plan for my life. I wanted to help people who had been hurt. People who had been through kinds of tragedy I could never imagine. People who needed God’s love. The least of these. I changed my major to a double major in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Missions. I am planning on attending medical school and traveling abroad to help people like the orphans with their physical and mental scars from abuse they have endured. Brazil forever changed me, and I thank God every day for my experience there.” -- Meredith Anderson, Sophomore, North Canton, OH
HAITI – “The most interesting person I met while I was [in Haiti] was a witch doctor who lived just outside the seminary. He was very nice to our group which caught me by surprise. After our meeting, I asked one of the missionaries why he did not hate us considering we were telling people they did not need witch doctors, instead they need Jesus to be their doctor. The missionary told me that witch doctors believe that when you cast a curse, for it to work properly the person being cursed has to have the devil in their life. As Christians, they know there is no room for the devil in our lives and if they cast a curse on a Christian, it is thought that the curse will bounce back onto them. They are nice to us because they fear our God, because they know that God is more powerful than Satan and yet they still serve him, because it is their only source of income. It is sad to see the devil’s hold on these wonderful people, but every day God is at work.
I could go on and on with hundreds of stories and things I experienced while I was there, but if I had to put it into just a few words, ‘It was the most amazing, life altering, and strengthening trip of my life.’ I have fallen in love with the people of Haiti. I love their loving personalities, hospitality, friendliness, and fellowship. They are truly a people on fire for God. I simply cannot wait to return, and I hope to go back as soon as I can. I would also like to explore areas of ministry there involving children and doing a Vacation Bible School with them. I really feel God calling me back and I cannot wait to answer that call. I often pray asking God what He wants me to do with my life, and I think I may have finally found something I can do well. Something that uses my gifts and makes me feel fulfilled.” – Samantha Hulmes, Sophomore, Salem, NJ
GUATEMALA – “Besides digging pits for irrigation, some of my team and I got the special privilege of helping build a birthing center. This was definitely the highlight of my trip. The woman who was in charge of this clinic was originally from the States, but moved to Guatemala when her mother became a missionary. Her mother was a doula, and when Anita finally turned thirteen, she delivered her first baby and followed in her mother’s footsteps. It had always been her dream to build and open up her own clinic so that mothers who could not afford to go to the hospital could go to her clinic and have their babies in peace. It would also give the mothers more time to rest up than they would have in the hospital. So when my team came, we got to mix lots of concrete and pour some of the floors in the birthing center. It was such a blessing to be able to make such a difference in saving the lives of babies, as well as to make Anita’s ministry become a reality. She cried when she saw all the work being put into the dream which God had placed in her heart. It was a truly moving experience. By the end of that summer, the birthing center was completely finished and Anita is still delivering babies in the name of Jesus to this very day.” -- Amanda Waring, Junior, Carlisle, PA
MEXICO – “The man that was working with us was named Jose and at one point I stopped digging and asked him about his life. His response blew me away. He said he was a recovering heroin addict who had overdosed twice and spent some time in prison for stealing money and breaking into homes. He had been there [Rancho de Cristo] one month and was now completely clean and proceeded to tell us that he didn’t have a penny to his name. He stayed at the ranch free of charge, as all the men do, and has free meals. His next comment was what really got me. He said, ‘I have all I need.’ This coming from a man with no money, no house, no job, and few clothes, yet he has all he needed, because he had God. Now coming from an American home with three televisions, four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, family room, living room, and three bathrooms for four people, not to mention all of the clothing, money, shoes, and my job, this surprised me. I thought maybe this is one of the main things God wanted to teach me during this trip.” – Steven Trevor Smith, Sophomore, Columbiaville, MI
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “The last day we were there we went to an extremely poor sugar cane village and gave them food and played with the kids. It was our favorite part of the trip because these people had nothing, and they told us that they would be praying for us. We asked why, thinking if anything we should be the ones doing the praying, and they answered us saying they knew we had a lot of stuff in America, and that gets in the way of our relationship with God. They don’t have much, so they don’t have to worry about that, and they wanted us to be close to God just like they were.” -- Andrew Harris, Senior, Lexington, KY
PUBLISHED DEC 2013:
TRINIDAD – “I never had thought of mission work before in my life and honestly, probably would have never gone if it was not a requirement at Asbury. I put off this requirement almost to the last minute, but I know this was the ideal time for me to go so God could call me to serve in another country more permanently. If I would have gone on a trip even a year ago instead of now, I do not think I would have been okay with hearing that I have been called to serve as an occupational therapist in another country.” -- Karli Lichtenberger, Graduated Senior ’13, Crystal Falls, MI
PANAMA – “The whole experience of being in Panama has completely changed the way I see myself, America, the world, and God. Coming to the realization that my reality is not true for most of the world certainly did a work on my moral development in accepting that in this moment while I write this paper, there are children starving, people dying without knowing the glory of God, and there are those striving to be a servant of the Lord in hostile areas.
Being able to experience what it will be like to one day eventually attempt to marry the world of psychology to Christianity on the mission field is an opportunity that I am excited to participate in. One of the first things I became keenly aware of was the high rate of infidelity and marriage separation thus leading to child rebellion. Having the chance to meet with an American missionary in Panama, Steven, I was able to better understand what it was like to be a counselor in Panama. Marriage and family counseling was his specialty and the most common counseling subject was divorce.
What I did not understand before I spent six weeks in Panama was the fact that Panama does not need a young, educated, American female to come in and take over. What they needed, and wanted, was to have a true, genuine relationship with someone that they trusted truly cared about their life, health, and spirit.
While I was in Panama, I did not need to fill my life with useless things that just fade away. Instead, I spent my time focusing on building relationships and spending more time with God. I had a lot of time on my own and surprisingly enough, I never felt lonely. I, for the first time in my walk with Christ, learned what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus.” – Jessica Stephens, Graduated Senior ’13, Athens, TN
PUERTO RICO – “This trip was nothing but a blessing. Not only did we get to build our relationship amongst ourselves, but work together to serve for God’s glory. Seeing each camper improve daily at the [volleyball] camps was such an awesome experience, especially the much younger players. I loved every part of this trip, even though sleep was at the bottom of the list. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for us as a team and how else we will represent Christ.” – Catherine Starr, Sophomore, Lexington, KY
EUROPE – “One feels very small when comparing yourself to the mass of life going on in the world around you. To really grasp the idea that you and every single person you have even known are less than one percent of the total population is very humbling. Suddenly the troubles at my school or work seem very miniscule. When I hear about the protests taking place in Egypt or Brazil, Libya or Syria, it’s no longer just a reporter or a statistic telling the story. I am confronted with the overwhelming sense of meaning in knowing that those numbers are actual people with real feelings, stories, and experiences that lead them to that point. No matter where you live, it is overwhelming to learn how small you really are. The intertwining of our lives is so intricate, it is unfathomable.” – Will McBride, Junior, Orange Beach, AL
SPAIN – “One of the most rewarding friendships I gained [while studying abroad] was with an Austrian student named Niki. She was studying at the University of Sevilla, and we met through a Christian Bible study for international students and connected right away. Niki knows a lot of English, but we primarily communicated in Spanish. She was a great encouragement to my faith and a really wonderful person to know. I learned that there is so much in common between people who have very different cultures. It also completely affirmed why I chose Spanish to study—without this language knowledge, I would never have been able to love and communicate with my friends Alejandro, Isabel, and Niki. Looking back, I was so closed-minded to the idea of making international friends; I didn’t think I would care to know them or we wouldn’t have anything in common. I am so glad the Lord put these people in my life and I was able to spend time with them and learn to love them for who they are.
I now have a greater desire to live abroad, but also a greater understanding of how different—and how rewarding—it can be. I have seen how the blessing of the Lord is so much fuller than what I could have asked for, and how he is a generous God who gives good gifts to his children. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lived abroad, and the appreciation it has given me of the sweetness of new places and the pull of a home.” -- Amber Parsons, Senior, Gilbert, AZ
SENEGAL – “I learned that God can use anyone to do his work. Even if the person doesn’t know the local language very well or has no idea what they’re doing in the mission field. If the person has a heart for God and wants to passionately show Christ’s love to those around them, God will use them, in simple or extravagant ways. God is calling me to be a missionary in a village and I hope to start my own form of basic education schools for the local villagers so that they have access to the education they deserve to have.” – Kortnie Walters, Sophomore, Arvada, CO
PUBLISHED JAN 2014:
COLOMBIA – “The closest friendship I made during my time in Colombia was with our translator Elvis. Elvis was so much fun, and the fact that he spoke English made him much easier to talk to than the other Colombians. One night I asked Elvis if he would share his story with me, and it is something I will never forget. He began with a question: ‘Have you ever wanted to die?’ As I sat there listening to Elvis’ story, I waited confidently for a happy ending. It never came. While I was grateful for the difference God has made in his life, I was stunned by the amount of pain that still remained. When Elvis was finished, he looked at me and asked, ‘Are you going to stop talking to me?’ His question caught me by surprise. I looked at my new friend in disbelief as I realized that he was expecting me to stop loving him because of the mistakes he has made. This was the moment that the pain of Colombia became so real to me. What these people need is simply someone to love them regardless of their past, and now, instead of seeing the pain of a stranger, I was seeing it on the face of my new best friend.” – Taylor Diehl, Junior, Waynesburg, OH
TRINIDAD – “It felt strange being home because when I was in Trinidad, I didn’t have my cell phone, I didn’t have social media, I didn’t have a lot of the things that occupy my daily life. It felt great not having those little things because it gave me more time to truly appreciate being with the people on my team and truly enjoying just being in the presence of God without having all the distractions of being in America.
I definitely see myself doing missions in my future. Before this trip I was scared of mission work and didn’t want to leave the comfort of the USA. I am very ready to do more mission work and working potentially in sports ministry after Asbury. I now see the huge significance of missions and ministry and how they can really change lives, because they changed mine.
I am now at peace with God. Before the trip I felt in a way at odds with God and didn’t give Him complete control of my life. After the trip I saw how He worked in my life, and I let Him have complete control. A second way the trip has changed my life is that it has shown me that God has a plan for my life, and each day I find out more of that plan and see more of how God is at work in my life, and that gives so much peace. The third way this trip changed my life is by seeing the work that is still to be done in our fallen world. I see now that as Christians we have a heart for the brokenness in our world, and we should have a desire to do God’s work in this world.” – Caleb Benge, Senior, Louisville, KY
ITALY – “Seeing all the places and objects that I had studied about this year was incredible and made the history come alive to me. We spent most of our time at ancient historical places. I ate gelato on the steps of the Pantheon, explored the Colosseum, had an impromptu departmental meeting in the Roman Forum, watched my friends race in the Circus Maximus, and picked flowers at the Baths of Caracalla and at the Palatine Hill. I saw the Pope, a 2nd century Mithraic temple buried underneath a church, and the bronze Capitoline She-Wolf. I saw the Seven Hills of Rome from the top of the Castello Sant Angelo and walked along the Tiber River. I shopped by the Fontana di Trevi, ate at McDonalds by the Spanish Steps, and walked past Trajan’s Forum. I caught a glimpse of Rome’s old glory when I stood on the steps of the Victor Emmanuel Monument, and I witnessed its faith at mass in St. Peter’s Square. The city was so beautiful, the people so friendly, and the history so interesting that I decided to look into a semester of studying abroad in Rome.” – Emaleigh Robson, Junior, West Bridgewater, MA
HONDURAS – “I cannot even begin to measure the personal growth I experienced during my time in Choluteca. I was challenged, stretched, and convicted in almost every way, but I was also uplifted and enlightened. When our team visited the vocational school which Larry Overholt has helped to establish in Choluteca, I came to realize the value of opportunity and choice. Many of those students have only one chance to improve their lives and only one or two paths which they can take to do so. I, on the other hand, have been blessed with many opportunities to become the person that God made me to be, and I often have so many choices that I am overwhelmed and frustrated that I must decide. My time in Choluteca helped me to appreciate the beauty of choice and the freedom of decision, both of which are beautiful gifts from God.” – Kelsey Adams, Senior, Brandenburg, KY
ENGLAND [Oxford Summer Programme] – “Emotionally, we were stretched. With sparse communication to home, we were forced to form relationships within our group. We were in the rare instance of all being at the same place: the start. It was a bit like the first day of preschool, except instead of the main question being about favorite colors, it was about the morality of imposing religious standards in a government of freedom. These dense topics, often ones that have caused countries to go to war, were uncomfortable. They tugged at issues deeply gouged into our human hearts. Spiritually, we encountered awe in pure form. We were required to take a course on the history of the English church. We learned the symbolism, the sweat, the faith that went into building cathedrals and walking opposite the current in times of reformation and turmoil. We drew metaphors in the stories of saints to our own mundane struggles and found hope. We found quiet to consider the character of God and question Him as we tilled the garden of our minds in the rich soil of free time. Mentally, quite obviously, we were stimulated. However, this comes last, not first, because it was started by the experience of all the others. The sensations of the physical, power of the emotional, and gravity of the spiritual demanded the explanation from the mental—or the lack of explanation. Overall, this experience can best be described as philosophical because that word deals with the infinite, the changing of self, the love to explore, and the necessity of being intimate with living.” – Katherine Oostman, Senior, Albuquerque, NM
GUATEMALA – “Even though they barely have a penny to their name, they don’t hesitate to help those who need it. I try to remember this in my daily life because I have everything I could ever need and sometimes don’t bother to offer assistance to someone who needs it…. By far my favorite part of Guatemala was playing and interacting with the kids at the school and church. The food that we served the kids at school was not the most appetizing meal for someone used to American food. A lot of the times, the food that the kids received would be their only hot meal for the day. That, in and of itself, was one of the most powerful images I saw. I’ve never had to worry about going hungry or not know when my next meal was going to be. I complain about school food and don’t eat some of the food my mom works hard to fix. But these kids don’t have that option. They get one small meal and that’s it. They don’t have a choice in the matter. They either eat it or go hungry. This experience has made me more aware and thankful for the food that I have access to. I don’t complain nearly as much about food now.
My experiences in Guatemala have truly changed me. I feel like the people of Guatemala gave me so much more than I could ever give to them. I admire them in more ways that I can name. I was able to give them a few material items and spend some time with them, but they taught me humility and faith. They showed me what really matters in life. Most of all, my time in Guatemala has lit a fire in my heart for missions. I don’t think I can truly be happy living my comfortable life here in America when most of the world is suffering. I now feel like it’s my responsibility and purpose, because I have the means to go out and serve ‘the least of these’.” – C. Blake Ingram, Sophomore, Mt. Sterling, KY
PUBLISHED FEB 2014:
GREECE – “Recently, Christianity in Europe has been in serious and significant decline. Many churches in Greece are bringing in new believers but lack the leadership to disciple them. As our group prayed for the trip, we felt that shift in European churches was coming and that Paul’s Macedonian call was relevant today. The call to Macedonia does not require a multitude of North American missionaries but rather a few teachers who are willing to equip and teach Greeks how to lead their nation.
During my trip to Greece, God gave me a vision for my future career and how I could utilize my education to help others around the world. I’ve always had an interest in other cultures but never the desire to serve as a long-term missionary. As the trip progressed, I felt that God was redefining my definition of what it meant to be a missionary. While I had once thought missionaries were just pastors in a foreign land, I now saw that a missionary could also be involved in the public sector of life as well. When I graduate from Asbury University, I will have a degree in Political Science and Sociology, and I hope to use this degree to work in international law. Someday, I would like to work at the U.S. Embassy in Thessaloniki. A job at the U.S. Embassy would allow me to minister to the Greeks around me and make good use out of the education I received from Asbury University. After traveling to Greece multiple times, my love for the people and the country has grown, and I would be honored to serve with my brothers and sisters in Christ in Greece.
The people of Greece are eager to learn and reach their nation, but they need someone to come along and help them, much like Paul did in Acts 16. Greece needs a number of people who are well versed in the Word of God to equip Greek Christians so that they can reach their nation. I was fortunate to go on this trip, and I am blessed by all that God taught me through His church in Greece.” – Katherine Hickey, Sophomore, Sioux Falls, SD
KENYA & ETHIOPIA – “I pray I gain another opportunity to return to Kenya because of that feeling of happiness I got while with the kids there and that feeling of joy when I see the eyes of a child I helped bring to the Lord. I want to love like those kids love and be as happy and content as they are every day. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity and for Asbury in making me have to take this opportunity when I did because it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life and in my daily spiritual growth.” – Taylor Kool, Senior, Norfolk, VA
COSTA RICA – “Days passed and soon it was Saturday morning, the day we were slated to help with a homeless ministry in San Jose. Normally, this would not have frightened me, but the thought of having so many people around me, asking for so many things in a language that I could not understand was daunting. We arrived at the park where the ministry took place, and unloaded to first hear a short message before distributing sandwiches and coffee to those homeless men and women who had come that day. As I handed sandwiches down the row, I soon realized that all I really needed to know how to say was ‘de nada’ or ‘con gusto’ in response to their ‘gracias.’ This single moment sparked a realization that despite all of my fear and anxiety, all it took was a simple gesture of kindness to bridge the gap between myself and those in the homeless ministry, and to realize that, really, maybe this trip was not going to be as frightening as I had imagined.” – Devon Zweifel, Senior, Wilmore, KY
TRINIDAD – “One of the biggest impacts this trip had was to show me how beautiful all of God’s people are. I went into the trip expecting to help change people, and I guess I thought really highly of who I was. However, God really opened my eyes that these people have a lot to show me about who He is. A favorite memory of mine is watching the people in the church worship. I looked in the crowd and there was a very elderly, fragile woman that was wearing her ‘Sunday best’ and a hat that was far too big for her. She was waving her hands in the air and shouting the music very off key. When I saw her, I unashamedly wept at the beauty of this woman and her heart for the Creator.” – Heather Wantland, Senior, Howard, OH
IRELAND – “At the start of my trip I had no idea how this experience was going to impact my life. Going to Ireland and attending the Achill Island field school was going to either confirm or change my mind about being an archaeologist. I learned so much within the one week in which I was there than I would have in a semester…. After my return journey, I had the chance to talk to my parents about my experience. I decided to pursue archaeology as a career and to go ahead and apply to graduate school. I also decided to look into more opportunities to get experience, and to pray.” – Sarah Henley, Senior, Columbus, OH
HAITI – “One thing that touched me was one evening I bought some bags of chips. For one U.S. dollar we received 7 bags. I took them back to campus and passed out a few bags to the team, then I had a few extra. I ended up giving one girl a bag, and instead of running away and taking the whole bag for herself, she divided it up equally between all the kids sitting there. That was something that was hard to comprehend. This little girl who was not getting enough food to begin with, took the food that was all hers and shared it between all the kids. It was something that is hard to put into words. I believe this is one reason why the people there are so happy, because everyone is willing to help other people no matter who they are.
Overall, I think this trip affected my life and the way I look at life in general. From the time we got there until the time we left, I could feel God moving. I felt like our team overcame all of the challenges put in front of us. I could tell by the time we got on the plane to come home that God had moved in my life that week. Haiti is a place that for the rest of my life will hold a very special place in my heart. This experience has made me want to do another overseas mission trip and possibly live overseas for an extended period after college.” - Parker Touchton, Freshman, Ashland, KY
PUBLISHED MAR 2014:
ENGLAND – “My time at Oxford changed me in many ways. I was pushed academically in ways I have not been pushed before. My English and Ethics tutors challenged my thinking and challenged me to take myself and my ideas more seriously. It was an intense time of growth in my thinking, the most difficult period academically, but I have seen because of that time of determination and perseverance that I am capable of anything and ready for wherever the journey takes me next. I still think about my time at Oxford every day. It had a lasting impact on my thinking and outlook, and I will always see the world differently because of the four months I spent abroad. …I do not know exactly where the future will take me, but I know whether it is back to Oxford, or Toronto, or Paris, I will always have an open heart, and open mind, and open eyes to the world around me.” - Susanna Ingles, Senior, Nicholasville, KY
TRINIDAD – “My view of ministry was positively impacted by our trip to Trinidad. When I first came back from Trinidad I honestly did not know how to handle being back. I wanted to just go out in the mission field. Yet I knew that God was calling me to finish school first. I think the Lord has opened my eyes to missions in such a special way. I always knew missions was important, but now I know it for myself. God has somehow kindled a passion for missions within me. Previous to the trip I had wondered whether I would actually be willing to live in another country, and now I know my heart is open to it. I am still unsure about where or what the Lord wants me to specifically do, but I know that I am willing to go where He tells me to go. World missions has definitely become a priority for me, and I am excited to see how God uses that in the future.” - Brooke Denke, Senior, Las Vegas, NV
NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, CHINA – “The most influential time for me was the time I spent in China. I went into the trip feeling called, and it was completely confirmed while I was there that I am supposed to go back to China. I was always skeptical about ‘divine appointments’ before my time in China, but the people I met and the things I encountered made me believe whole heartedly how intricately woven God made my time in China. My first week there, I was looking for opportunities to work with children and youth, and ‘randomly’ the person who sits next to me during a church service is the Sunday school teacher, and she invites me to help with the next lesson she gives to the children at a Sunday school class. I then met other people who made my time in China unbelievable, and I feel that because I was so open to the call to be in China, God answered those prayers. I got to work in a youth group with international youth from around the world. This was one of the biggest affirmations for my time in China. As a youth ministry major, getting to work with youth in China, and see how at home and comfortable I felt, was substantial for me. The kids were amazing and so mature in their faith. I was really surprised by how much I was learning from them and how close to God each of the kids were.” – Travis Lee, Senior, Flemingsburg, KY
UKRAINE – “One of the missionaries living in Ukraine, Bekah, and I, formed a close relationship during my time there. She has the words ‘Here am I. Send me.’ in Hebrew tattooed on her left and right wrists. One evening she was explaining the tattoos to some of the students, and how this verse really shaped her future and her decision to go to Ukraine permanently. Later that night, as I was spending some time in the Word, I opened directly to that passage. I clearly felt God asking me if I was willing to go where He called me. There was no indication of whether or not that would be Ukraine, but He needed to know that my life was completely surrendered to Him. It was a beautiful moment, and an incredible realization that I am ready to go wherever the Lord leads me. If given the chance, I would return to Ukraine and this English Camp ministry in a heartbeat. As for now, though, I know that God will lead me where He needs me to be, and I will simply say, ‘Here am I. Send me!” – Marissa Zatezalo, Junior, Imperial, PA
JAMAICA – “Jamaica is known for marijuana (Jamaicans call it ‘ganja’) use, which is very much tied to Rasta culture. In fact, Rastafarianism has this thing called a ‘reasoning.’ In the reasoning, ganja is used to reason with God. Marijuana, while it was not everywhere, was certainly in abundance. We were offered it several times and saw many people smoking it during our mission trip. This actually opened up a couple of opportunities to share the gospel. One night we were on the beach after dark and a young man approached us with a proposition. Of course, he was trying to sell us drugs. After listening to his proposition and promptly telling him no, we continued to talk. We talked about life for the next hour and a half. In that time, I was able to share with him what Christianity was all about and what it really meant to follow him. Being in a predominately Christian country, the young man, whose name is Jason, knew a lot about the story of Christianity, but it was obvious he did not know Jesus. At the end of our talk, he did not ask to accept Jesus or anything like that, but I knew he had heard me and I pray the Holy Spirit will meet him one day and change him forever.
Our time in Jamaica came to an end, as all things do, and we returned to Lexington. But the weight of that trip still lays heavy on myself and many of the guys who went. After several weeks of talking with each other, as a team we decided that we would start a shoe drive for the boys’ homes we visited. We had all noticed that many of them did not have shoes, and if they did, they were very low quality (aka 50 cent flip flops). Our shoe drive is still going on, and while we haven’t reached our goal yet, we are certainly striving towards it. This trip taught me what it meant to love the least of these that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25. It has created a passion in me for the kids that are in the gaps of society. I will carry this trip with me, the memories, the conversations, and the depth behind them, my entire life.” - Chris Israel, Senior, Mt. Vernon, OH
HONDURAS – “Through my time in Choluteca, God provided me with some personal guidance. At the time, I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted to keep my Spanish major. Because of the sense of fulfillment which I received after translating for my team at our work site, I have decided to continue studying Spanish. I do not know where this path will take me, but I know that God will use it to lead me into the calling he has placed on my life.
My missions trip to Honduras was an absolute blast. I enjoyed every moment of the trip. I made many new friends, both within the team and on the field. I learned about myself and what God might be calling me to do. I experienced God’s heart for my brothers and sisters in a different area of the world, and I felt a deep desire to be a part of His work in their lives. Because of my experience during that week, I was able to look beyond my own personal existence views and into the life of another. In doing so, I gained a broader sense of what it means to fulfill our Great Commission throughout the nations—because of that experience, I will never be the same. .” – Kelsey Adams, Senior, Brandenburg, KY
PUBLISHED APR 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
PUBLISHED MAY 2014:
PUERTO RICO – “This trip really helped me see how much something as simple as painting a house can change someone’s life. The people of the church were so thankful that we did that for them, and Santos was very blessed by us helping him out. It really showed me the power of showing the love of God through the small things. Before this trip I always thought to show the love of God I had to preach great sermons or give a million dollars to someone, but now I realize that every little thing counts.
Since this trip I have really been focusing on loving others in a tangible way that they can see. Actually today I am going to the inner city of Lexington and am going to pass out some food and money to the poor and homeless people. Through that trip I learned that I can say a million words to some people and it won’t matter. Some people need to see God’s love with their own eyes, and the only way they will ever see it is if Christians show them the love of God through the way they love them. – Dakotah Euton, Senior, Richmond, KY
KENYA – “For most of the kids on the streets and slums, they have no hope for tomorrow. What hope they do have is little and in false beliefs. God opened my eyes to an experience that I couldn’t have ever imagined, a world of rich culture, different food, and great friends; but along with that, pain, different religions, and hatred. These are all things that I would not have been able to learn as a young man from northern Michigan. The Cross-Cultural Experience helped shape my future as a student and follower of Christ. When I stepped into a new world that challenged me mentally, physically, and spiritually, I know for sure that I came out as a better man of God with a broken heart for my friends in Mombasa. I went there to experience a new culture and spread love, but I left with life lessons and a more thankful spirit.” -- Zachariah Haske, Senior, Gaylord, MI
COSTA RICA – “One of the ways in which they encourage community is by not having a lot of coffee shops such as Starbucks so that they just make it in their homes and invite people from their neighborhood in to share a cup of coffee with them. They were very big on community there and in their everyday life I could see how the people there genuinely cared for their neighbors.
During that trip God was really putting on my heart a verse from Acts 10:15, ‘Do not call anything impure that I have made clean.’ I was just learning that God has created everything that we see around us and His fingerprints are on each and every individual so there is no one too far or too lost in the world that we should overlook. Being back home, I have a much greater appreciation for the little things and am reminding myself every day to look upon everyone I pass as a brother or sister in Christ and know that I am no greater than they are. Jesus has just filled my heart with so much love and joy, and I just want to share that with everyone and maybe one day share it around the world.” – Julia Chin, Sophomore, West Nyack, NY
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – “This trip confirmed that my calling in life is to serve others. Jesus keeps reminding me this in spite of my stubbornness and disobedience. When I listen, He delivers. I learned a little about laying block and a lot about being sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit. After coming from the Dominican, Jesus refreshed me with a restored hope, trust, and vision for my life.” -- Sarah Beth Alford, Freshman, Carrollton, GA
ENGLAND – “All of the differences between the European culture in which I was immersed and the American culture from which I come worked together to teach me some fundamental truths about human nature and the similarities of all people, regardless of culture or background. Through the experience of having to take care of my own finances, both in England and when I was traveling abroad, I learned the valuable skills of budgeting and time management. Because I was relied upon to provide one meal per week for a group of eleven people, both my bargain shopping and cooking skills greatly improved, and I was able to see the financial benefit of joining a food group of that type. Though I was challenged academically, financially, and emotionally while I was there, I was rewarded with much personal growth and insight about what I want to do with my life over the next few years.
The rigorous academic work that I had to do while in Oxford fueled in me a passion for learning and especially for Victorian literature. I now know that I am capable of that level of work and wish to continue on to get my master’s degree in English. I know that I am good at being independent, and more importantly, that I enjoy it. I think that my study-abroad experience ignited in me a desire to do the most that I can with what I am given. Though I do miss being there among the greatest churches, libraries, and museums that I have ever seen, I want to take what I learned from my experience and share it with others here in the United States. What’s next in my life? I am going to continue learning—and loving to learn.” Emily McCardel, Senior, Oneonta, NY
PEORIA, ARIZONA, U.S.A. (Southwest Indian Ministries Center) – “On the last night of camp, the Holy Spirit moved and I was able to pray with a girl who came from a horrific family situation. After hearing her story and feeling her brokenness, I was overwhelmed with grief knowing that I had to send this beautiful, wonderful girl back to terrible circumstances. My heart was broken and there was nothing I could do but pray that God might take the burden of her circumstances and give both her and myself His easy and light one. That experience, and many other smaller experiences during camp that I do not remotely have enough room to share here helped me to grow as a leader and as a Christian. God moved greatly in the lives of many Native American teens at SIMC and in my own life as well. I was challenged to look at the world differently through the eyes of Native American culture and challenged to trust God with all of my being. Fulfilling this Cross-Cultural Experience requirement truly and sincerely changed my life. My eyes have been opened to the many different types of cultures and backgrounds that are present even in our own nation. I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn more about other cultures and for the good work that is being done at SIMC!” – Sarah Choate, Sophomore, Shepherdsville, KY
PUBLISHED JUNE 2014:
JAMAICA – “I left Indianapolis, Indiana, for a missions trip to Jamaica thinking that I would be able to change lives. I had no idea the change that would come about inside of me. The work God would do in my heart will stay with me forever. What is completely ironic about it is that the people I was going to Jamaica to try to impact were the ones that God used to impact me. I do hope that I made a difference, but all I can testify to is the difference in me.” – Brooke Hadley, Senior, Danville, IN
GUATEMALA – “As we were singing ‘How He Loves Us,’ I was singing in English and another woman was singing in Spanish. We looked at each other and I felt God come right into me. Same song, different language. There is no barrier that cannot be broken by the love of God. Playing with the children after long days of work was another barrier I didn’t think could be broken, yet somehow God provided a way for us to communicate with each other. I didn’t know any Spanish when I first arrived, and yet I talked with these children like we were speaking English. It really was a testimony as to how God wants us all to come together as one body on this planet.” – Samuel Mattox, Junior, Mt. Sterling, KY
PUERTO RICO – “I had an incredible experience while visiting and on mission in Puerto Rico. I could not have asked for better timing and getting the opportunity to travel and work with people and create lifelong friendships that I will cherish forever after leaving Asbury. I also thank Asbury for having this requirement because it made me realize that there are so many more people who are in need more than myself and more than I realized. It was a real eye opener, and I wish more people could see what I got to see and how it humbled me. I do not need half the things I have in order to be happy. It continues to amaze me, and not only by going on this trip, but that getting to experience life in another’s culture has so many positive facets and sparked my interest to continue the mission of Jesus to other people around the world. It was such a humbling experience for me because not only did I get to meet such sweet, caring people that were in Puerto Rico, from another part of the world, but by the end of the week I felt like I had known them my whole life.” – Kayla Clenney, Senior, Plant City, FL
TRINIDAD – “This mission trip had an enormous impact on me and my heart and my relationship with God. I was very nervous about going on the trip because I wasn’t sure if I was mentally prepared for doing mission work. God set up everything perfectly. I returned with a beautiful understanding of what it means to be a true Christian and spread God’s love throughout the world. Working in Trinidad with the team and with the other Trinidad people we were meeting along the journey reminded me that there are some wonderful people in this world—and love and hope for humanity is not lost. Sometimes I feel society is a negative place, lost from generosity and a genuine personality, but going to Trinidad was a nice way to see how simply being a loving person in a different culture changes the entire atmosphere. I am so grateful for this experience.” – Gretchen Reinersman, Graduated 05/14, Edgewood, KY
ECUADOR – “It was in Ecuador that my heart radically changed. I became so happy and content with the things I had. Some of them didn’t even have a bathroom or a bed, and we complain because ours isn’t nice enough. It is extremely heart-breaking but so amazing to see how satisfied they are with the things they have. I want that. I want to be able to look at a stick and find joy in it.” – Kayla Clauss, Freshman, Shepherdsville, KY
RUSSIA – “There was one evening that I had an unexpected opportunity to share my faith with one of my co-workers. I went to have dinner at a stir fry restaurant because it was inexpensive but not McDonalds. One of the people from my venue was there, and he invited me to join his table. He was from England, but had traveled around the world through several years of the Olympics. After a bit, he asked me why I was only drinking Coca-Cola. I explained to him that I preferred not to drink alcohol for personal reasons, and that I went to a Christian university which had a rule against drinking. This sparked a friendly discussion about Christianity, a topic not often encountered in Western Europe. I was able to share what I believed and why. He seemed to respect my faith without sharing in it. He was not accustomed to practicing believers that were ‘perfectly normal.’ This experience affirmed to me that I am able to use my position in media to further the Kingdom. There are many in the media who do not know Jesus. They often have a skewed view of Christianity caused, in part, by the distorted view of some who claim to follow Christ in a very vocal way. By working with excellence and loving those I work with, I can be a testament to the Gospel.” – Robert Volker, Graduated 05/14, Highland, IL
PUBLISHED JULY 2014:
THAILAND – “If I have learned anything in the whole of my cross-cultural experience, it is that getting out of the country is far more informative and influential than merely reading or hearing about it. This has been one of the most exciting endeavors I have ever ventured on, and I really hope to come back some day bringing more family and friends with me.” – Noah Malcolm, Graduated 05/14, Jackson, MI
RUSSIA – “Being from Asbury helped me to witness and be a light to several of my co-workers at my venue in Sochi. Many of them were Russians and many of them were Canadians (I worked in the ice hockey venue, “Balshoy Ice Dome”), and some asked me how I got the opportunity to come work at the Olympics. I told them I was from Asbury, a small Christian college in Kentucky, and that Jim Owens with OBS was my professor (many of them knew exactly who he was). Just from that little bit of information, they were able to gather that I was a Christian and thus, a door was opened for discussion. What a great experience that was for me. Everything was fabulous and I wish I could re-live the entire experience!” – Jake Slaughter, Graduated 05/14, Lexington, KY
COSTA RICA – “The impact that this mission trip had on me was immense. I felt that this journey took my relationship with God to a whole new level of intimacy by showing me what I can do to change people’s lives, not only physically but also spiritually. I feel that the examples of the people I met there made the most difference in my attitude, the fact that they did not have anything worth boasting about yet they praised the Lord with every breath they breathed. That example inspired me to change my mindset and live in the moment and thank God for every second He gives me. I also feel that God is calling me to go on more mission trips throughout my life especially these next few years while I am still in college. The Lord has also challenged me to hold myself to a higher level of integrity while fighting Satan with Scripture and with His strength. I would definitely recommend that everyone go on a mission trip at least once in their life so that they may experience what many people already know to be true.” - Caleb Woodard, Sophomore, Elkhart, IN
KENYA – “I fell in love with a stereotype of Africa a long time ago. Childhood tales of exploration into dense jungles, journeys across barren deserts, and pictures of life outside of time were riveting to me. It was in pursuit of adventure that I went to Kenya, and adventure there I found. During my four months in Kenya, I discovered that reality is so much deeper than a stereotype. My Africa, my Kenya, at times grew my capacity to love, at other times broke my heart. Through all of it, I was challenged to seek my true character, to step into the greatest version of myself. In quiet moments after the sun has set, I can almost hear the chanting of the Masai, my voice rising with theirs. Maybe one day I will be found dancing among the tribal Kenyans again, decked out in beaded necklaces and speaking the language as my own. Maybe one day I will be found running a medical clinic in the bush for people who have no other hope. One thing is certain, if I am found in Kenya, I will be unshakably happy with a fierce determination to change Kenya because Kenya first changed me.” – Allegra Forwith, Junior, Louisville, KY
POLAND – “Poland is 98% Roman Catholic, most non-practicing, and we return every year to this small, rapidly growing, Baptist church in a large city hoping to spread the good news and joy that we have found in Christ. The Polish people are very loving if you take the time to love them. The language is one of the most difficult ones in the world to learn, and their religion is deep in the roots of the country, but God pierces the hearts of many when He is taken to them. As we prepare to leave I pray we have served diligently and done what God called us to do. It is killing me to leave after all this time. This month has flown by, these relationships made mean the world to me. I cannot wait until next year to continue this ministry. I had learned to love the all-natural food, the early morning sunlight, the breeze from the Baltic Sea, and the beautiful history in display around the country, and it was time to say goodbye. I never grow tired of this trip; it has been a blessing to be a part of a Polish family, and I plan on being a member of that family for the rest of my life. There are so many individual accounts of God’s work in these people’s lives during the month I was there and especially the growth over three years, but these few pages cannot hold all my stories. Two nations became one as we served wholeheartedly for the purpose of taking the Word of God to the world. A lot of my heart was left in Poland.” – Amber Jo Lewis, Sophomore, Cox’s Creek, KY
NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, CHINA – “New Zealand is a very spiritually dry country. I had dinner with a missionary there one night, and she said it is like the future America where not only is religion looked down upon, but it is completely ignored. In China we had a very different experience with religion. It is known to be the place where Christians are persecuted, but in the city the government allows for Christian churches as long as they are in control of what occurs in them. We attended a government church every Sunday, and although it was controlled politically, it was clear that God was working through whatever was available and these Chinese people knew Him. We were encouraged to talk to whomever we could at church, and I always found that their faith was so genuine and real because it is all they have. Most of the students I talked to in the universities about their conversion told me it came at a point when they could not handle the pressure of their culture anymore, and needed some kind of peace and freedom.” -- Meredith Ury, Senior, Elizabeth City, NC