Spring break stories show global impact and inspire new perspectives
March 26, 2014 | Ian Richardson
An African safari in Kenya, a ride on the autobahn in Germany, a showing of Phantom of the Opera in London—these kinds of things don’t happen every day.
But during spring break each year, unique and memorable experiences become attainable for dozens of Evangel students, faculty and staff. Those who set out on service trips encounter different cultures and experience different sights, sounds and tastes around the world while being ambassadors for Christ.
Providing these opportunities is the mission of CROSSwalk, Evangel’s student ministry organization, and Global Connections, Evangel’s program designed to help students experience and interact with new cultures. Their collaboration results in an array of service and study trips for students to select from. In all, 11 trips traveled to various locations spanning five continents during spring break 2014.
On February 28, a team led by Alli Fontaine, trips logistics coordinator and global connections program assistant, began their 11-day trip to Kenya. The team ministered to children at Limuru Children’s Center K-Branch, a preschool where many of the children live in impoverished circumstances and have no other opportunities for education. While at the center, the team built hanging lines for laundry, assisted in the meal preparation, tore down and repainted fences and played with and taught the children there.
“It was incredible to see the bond that the love of Christ can bring between two people of different cultures, ages and backgrounds,” Fontaine says. “The joy exhibited by the children and workers at Limuru Children’s Center was a reminder to all of us that the joy of the Lord surpasses all circumstances and can be shared with all people.”
The team also visited Angels Baby Home, which is an orphanage that cares for abandoned Kenyan children ages 0-5 and works with other organizations to place the young children with foster or adopted families. While there, the team built a diaper pit and planted a garden where the children’s home can grow fresh fruits and vegetables.
The team also had the opportunity to camp and work with the Maasi tribe in the Great Rift Valley, an experience that included an African safari and a celebratory meal of barbecue goat.
Tori McMunn, senior, said this trip helped her take home a fresh outlook on life.
“It changed my life,” she says. “Everyone we met talked about passion. It was a theme of the week for me to live with passion in everything I do. It makes everything worth doing well.”
While Fontaine’s team was in Kenya, Dr. Jeremy Harris and his team of 13 were traveling to England for a cultural and service trip. While in Birmingham, the team ministered with a local Assemblies of God church to present seven Christian and character education school assemblies and work in the classrooms with pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students. The team also worked with the church’s community shop and with the kids and youth groups.
Harris says the most memorable part of the trip for him was seeing how well the children interacted with the students during and after the assemblies, especially in one instance after the team did a skit on humility called “Sweetness,” in which senior Brandon Yamamoto played the lead role.
“Brandon played the part of a teenage rock band leader needing to learn humility. It was neat to see the kids remember Brandon—some of the little girls even wanted his autograph—and what it meant to be humble,” Harris said.
For Yamamoto, this was his first trip outside the United States. He says this trip helped him freshly realize his life’s calling.
“Overall, this trip helped me to solidify God’s calling in my life,” Yamamoto says. “After visiting the schools and helping out with the youth in the church, I was reminded that God has truly called me to help adolescents and draw them closer to Christ.”
While in England, the team also spent time touring Birmingham and London. They visited Cadbury World, where Cadbury chocolate is manufactured, toured Warwick Castle, toured the Birmingham City Football Club stadium and went English bowling. In London, the team was able to visit Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, as well as watch a performance of The Phantom of the Opera.
A team of 12 representing the Evangel Business Department also spent time in Europe on an 11-day study trip to Germany and England. While in Germany, the team, which was led by Becky Rhoades, professor of accounting, toured the business facilities for Jet (the European version of Phillips 66), and watched the assembling of jets at the Airbus manufacturing facility outside Hamburg. The team also took several historic walking tours and visited many cultural locations including the home of Dietrich Boenhoeffer, the spot where the Berlin Wall used to be and several WWII locations.
Rhoades says the trip helped her realize anew how context can bring learning to life.
“It is really difficult to learn about and understand another culture until you’ve been there,” Rhoades says. “The context makes the learning possible or at least easier. That means this type of trip is vital to learning in preparation for a career in global business.”
Central and North America
On the closer side of the Atlantic, Dr. Matt Stringer, professor of Education, Shonna Crawford, professor of Education, and Michael Crawford, director of enrollment marketing, led a trip of 12 to Belize to minister at an Assemblies of God church in Corozal and to teach and lead assemblies at the local schools and community college.
Shonna Crawford says that throughout the trip the team interacted with more than 2,000 students and teachers of a variety of ethnicities.
“We had an amazing time ministering through the teaching gifts that God had given each person on our team,” she says. “We were so blessed to see how God used us in schools and in church, even when we were outside our comfort zone, to impact people’s lives.”
While the majority of the trips traveled overseas, some stayed in the United States. The Rain Impact team, which is a student-led CROSSwalk team that ministers through worship, human videos and dramas, traveled to Charleston, West Virginia, to minister at a local Assemblies of God church. Along with leading several services throughout the week, the team did work for the church which included shoveling snow and ice for the church, deep cleaning the church and canvassing the community.
On the first Sunday, the team did a service with worship, dance, human videos, spoken word and preaching. The team then did Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening services that incorporated a variety of activities.
Jeremy Arnold, senior and team leader, says that God’s presence was strong throughout the ministry trip.
“Undoubtedly, everyone left this trip humbled by their experience with God,” Arnold says. “Many have encountered him in ways they never have before. I have been awestruck by the works of God in my life and others during this trip. His presence and provision has been constant for us.”
New experiences, fresh encounters, renewed callings—even after these and the six other Spring Break teams returned from their trips, the memories and refreshed perspectives will live on in each of the participants’ lives.