Over spring break, three societies sent out missions teams, sponsored by BJU’s Center for Global Opportunities. A team of 15 members of the Epsilon Zeta Chi Tornadoes worked with a Texas church plant. Seven women from the Kangas traveled to St. George, Utah, while six men from the Wolves visited Cambodia Town in Philadelphia. The teams, which were student-led, partnered with local ministries to further the Gospel.
The Tornadoes’ 15-person team served at Arise Baptist Church in Houston. The church was planted about a year ago by Will Conover, a Tornado himself who graduated from BJU in 2005.
Caleb Harter, a Tornado who went on the missions trip, said he and his society brothers helped promote the church’s Easter service by canvassing the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We walked over 300 miles combined over three days of canvasing and distributed 10,000 flyers,” Harter said. “Many of us were able to share the Gospel with the people we encountered and created good relations with the community on behalf of Arise Baptist Church.”
The church welcomed 12 first time guests to its Sunday service.
“Several families came because they received a flyer that we had passed out during our trip, and one lady was saved during the service,” Harter said. “The trip was a huge success. Only time will tell how many lives were impacted through our work in Houston.”
Daniel Smitley, another member of the Tornadoes, said the trip was both beneficial to the church as well as to the members of Z who went.
“One of the most encouraging things for me personally on the trip was Pastor Cover. Each morning he gave our team a devotional and shared some very practical ministry advice,” Smitley said. “Through the trip we got to build relationships with fellow society guys, be a help to a church plant and see the Lord work both while we were there and after we got back.”
The Kangas worked with Westside Baptist Church in Utah by canvassing the area as well as playing games with the church’s youth group.
The women also visited the local Mormon temple. Sara Beth Shalala, a senior business administration major, said, “We witnessed but also tried to show the differences between our faith and their faith because they think that they are the same as us.”
The men from the Wolves society ministered to the Philadelphia area through leading a youth service, sharing testimonies and painting a church.
Randall Wiegand, a junior engineering major, said one of the biggest lessons he learned was that sharing the Gospel with people from different countries is not that different from sharing the Gospel with people back home.
Dr. Kevin Oberlin, the global connections coordinator of the CGO, said, “This is really exciting that we have these spring teams going out and the fact that societies can do something together outside of BJU.
“Societies are kind of looking in because we’re all in our own society bubble. We are really wanting to encourage this type of thing so societies can look beyond themselves and connect with needs around the world.”
City teams have grown out of a challenge from Dr. Bob Jones III who frequently encouraged prospective graduates to find a place with local ministries, build a relationship and then invest a few years getting involved in that ministry when you graduate.
“Through these outreaches, students will get connected to ministries before they graduate,” Oberlin explained.
“The idea is that students will already be building these relationships and that pastors would see themselves as mentors of these students.”
Angelina Zimmer, the office administrator of the CGO, said, “We’re really here just to facilitate what students feel God is calling them to do. So how can you get involved and start learning now for what God has for you later?”
The student leaders of these teams were responsible for choosing the city, creating a budget, making contacts and running their own meetings.
Zimmer said it was a completely student-driven effort. The whole idea is to use the gifts that God has given you to further the Gospel.