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Five EU students serve summer missions internships with AG Alliance in Eastern Africa, Eurasia

October 12, 2014 | Ian Richardson

While visiting a remote village in eastern Africa, junior Charisse Green met a man who changed her outlook on life.

The man was the sole English-speaker in the small town. When Green began talking with him, she asked him if he had ever heard about Jesus.

“He said, with perfect English, ‘Jesus. I have had many questions about Jesus. Yet you are the first person to ever come to my village to tell me about this man,’” Green says.

In response, Green began sharing her faith with him. More than four hours later, Green came away from the conversation with a fresh sense of calling to share the gospel with the unreached.

“I know the Lord has called me to reach those who do not know Him,” she says. “I left that village knowing I could from now on never turn back.”

Green’s encounter with this villager is one of many life-changing interactions that took place this summer as 20 students from Assemblies of God universities around the country spent two months as interns on the mission field. Divided into teams of four, they journeyed to several locations in Eurasia and eastern Africa and worked with AG missionaries who are reaching the region’s unreached people groups.

The internship is sponsored every two years by the AG Alliance for Higher Education and is open to students attending AG colleges. The Alliance provides the students with scholarships to aid with the majority of the cost. This year, five Evangel students joined the team: juniors Charisse Green and Laura Prosapio, and seniors Ann Bowman, Carl Sohmer and John Schutte.

While several of the team had been on mission trips before, they wanted to catch a glimpse of what life is like on the mission field for a longer period of time than the usual week-long trips most college students find themselves on.

During their stay in Eurasia, senior John Schutte’s team spent a week living out of backpacks and visiting local churches.

Sohmer says the duration of his trip to Africa helped him realize just how much he could feel at home on the mission field.

“You begin to feel as if you belong there,” he says. “You begin to see yourself living there for real and then you never want to leave. I really enjoyed living in another culture and seeing how I could do that for the rest of my life.”

He says this trip helped him become a better leader and more adaptable to living in contexts other than his comfort zone.

“It was such an incredible experience to live and befriend those who are so different from you,” he says. “I think that there will be various moments in the future where this trip will apply to my life.”

Bowman also says the difference in length and format was a welcome change from previous experiences. Her group, which traveled to Eurasia, had their own apartments, a weekly stipend and freedom to travel in pairs anywhere in the city as they worked to form relationships and set up discipleship groups with the people there.

She says her most memorable experiences of the trip were her encounters with new people in that culture. She describes one experience she and her team had while eating at a local restaurant they frequented. While there, they met a young African worker whom they had tried to witness to on an earlier visit. At the time he had been closed off to the gospel, but on this night, something was different.

“He told us of how he had been bitter toward God, but now he knew he needed to change that,” Bowman says. “We had a short Bible study with him right where he was working, and he was holding back tears from pure exposure to the Word.”

Schutte, whose team traveled to Eurasia, says the highlight of his experience was an eye-opening trip he and his group took to the southern part of the country they were living in. For a week, they lived out of their backpacks and visited different churches and houses of believers in the remote regions of the country.

“It was an awesome experience to minister to these people who are often persecuted by the majority of non-Christians,” he says.

Schutte’s goal is to become a full-time missionary, and he says this trip opened his eyes to what extended mission work looks like.

Laura Prosapio, junior, spent two months ministering to children in two Eurasian countries.

Laura Prosapio, junior, spent two months ministering to children in two Eurasian countries.

“It helped me personally to think about what sacrifices it would take,” Schutte says. “I took away a realistic look at life on the mission field—and with it, a greater desire to give all I can give for Christ.”

In her travels to two widely different Eurasian countries, Prosapio and her team ministered to children and students, forming relationships for the missionaries in that region to build upon. Prosapio experienced firsthand the physical and emotional challenges that come with long-term mission work, which she says helped her grow in her perception of success.

“I realized that success wasn’t how I felt about how I did, but rather just being willing and obedient to be used by the Lord in any way,” she says. “Whether it was singing Disney songs to kids at a children’s home or going on an uncomfortable bus ride for 12 hours, or trekking when I felt like I couldn’t anymore, it was just realizing that my willingness was what God wanted to use.”

In the end, the students came away from this trip with a deeper knowledge that missions isn’t only for a select few and that the Great Commission is something all believers can carry out, whether they are halfway across the world or talking to their next-door neighbors.

“Even though the field and the statistics of the unreached looks impossible,” Green says, “God is calling all of us to die to ourselves and what we want and just take up our cross and follow Him, bringing heaven to earth. Our obedience to the Great Commission is the success.”