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Serving, ministering, learning: Summer trips take Evangel students around the world

May 13, 2013 | Ian Richardson

School is out, and several Evangel students are saying farewell to the classroom and hello to the mission field.

Evangel has already begun sending students and faculty on what will be nearly 20 summer trips, with locations varying from within the state to across the globe. After months of preparation and fundraising work, one thing is for sure: These students are prepared to serve.

“These trips enable students to live out Evangel’s mission of integrating faith and career,” says Alli Fontaine, Global Connections logistics coordinator. Global Connections, a cross-cultural awareness program that is part of Evangel’s Frameworks curriculum, is sponsoring the majority of the summer trips.

“We desire that the students develop lasting relationships with their team members and sponsors, gain a greater perspective of the world and differing cultures, as well as make an eternal impact on those they meet and serve while traveling,” Fontaine says.

On May 4, Erica Harris, assistant professor of science and technology, and a team of eight Evangel students and 11 U.S. medical professionals set out on a trip to Peru to work with the Assemblies of God’s HealthCare Ministries. The team will run a one-week clinic in the city of Moquegua to provide medical, dental and optical care to the people who live there.

Abbi Leathers, a freshman Healthcare-Nursing major, says this trip opened up the perfect opportunity for her to get a taste of the medical mission work she feels called to after college. It is her first time on a service trip, and she says it has been a powerful experience so far.

“The healthcare and dental care here are so poor, and spiritually there is such a great need and hunger among the people,” she says. “I’ve seen many people’s bodies touched, but I’ve also witnessed many people earnestly surrender their lives to God right in the middle of our makeshift clinic.”

As the Science and Technology team works in Peru, a team from the Education Department is preparing to send a team of seven to Cambodia to teach workshops for the Cambodian secondary and elementary school teachers. Team members will also be working with children on the street to help them with their English-speaking skills.

Emily Akins, a junior Elementary Education major, is one of the students going on this trip.

“I believe it will be an incredible experience, being able to be in a completely different culture,” she says. “But more importantly, I want God to challenge me, use me, and pull me out of my comfort zone. I hope to develop lasting relationships with the people I meet and make a lasting impact on the education system.”

Another trip, led by Dr. Becky Huechteman, professor of education, will remain a bit closer to home – in New Mexico. The team will be working with a local school and church, ministering to Navajo children.

Katelyn Schmitt, a sophomore, says she is looking forward to ministering to others using what she has learned about education.

“I am wanting to someday teach overseas, so I am hoping that this gives me a taste of what it is like to teach in another culture,” she says. “I also want to be able to share Jesus’ love in a culture that is so dark. These children have parents that are addicted to alcohol and are living in extreme poverty here in the United States.”

This will also be Schmitt’s first time on an airplane.

Dr. Gary Martindale, associate professor of biblical studies, will be sponsoring four trips to Southeast Asia this summer.

Sean White, a junior Intercultural Studies and Journalism major, will be going on one of these trips to teach conversational English to the native people. This will be his second visit to the location, and he is looking forward to building on the relationships he began last summer.

“That was probably the biggest draw for me,” he says, “getting to see all of those people who I met last year and reconnecting with them. Everyone was just so incredibly kind, and we built friendships so fast. I do not consider myself a very talkative person; however, the previous trip helped me become much more confident in myself and to be confident working in another country.”

Evangel will also be sending several musical groups on tours as well this summer. Heartsong and 57.7, both groups originally from Central Bible College, as well as Stained Glass Story, Evangel’s traveling worship team, will each be touring in different locations across the country. The Central Bible College-based drama team Floodgate will also be touring.

The Humanities Department is sending students on a number of study trips to Europe. Dr. Robert Turnbull, professor of French, will be taking a group of students to France; Dr. Eliezar Oyola, professor of Spanish, will be leading several students on a study trip to Spain; and Michael Buesking, associate professor of art, is taking several art students on a study tour of Italy.

Other trips include the football team’s journey to Kyrgyzstan, the softball team’s trip to Guatemala, the tennis team’s trip to Italy and the C.S. Lewis study trip to Oxford, England.

With teams on four continents, Evangel is reaching out far beyond the city limits of Springfield, Missouri. As eyes are opened, as the gospel is spread and as lives are changed, students will be making a lasting impact on the world around them.

And they will have plenty of stories to share come fall.

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