Several students had the opportunity to serve globally in missions last summer. From a university in Senegal, to the sandy, white beaches of Hawaii, Crusaders spent their vacations making a difference.
One was junior Christian studies major and current Miss MHB Brianna Edwards, who went to Africa.
“I left May 12 (for) West Africa, Senegal. My old youth minister has been a missionary there for two years,” Edwards said, “He’s been story-telling in villages around that area and didn’t have anybody to go into the university and work with students there.”
Edwards wanted to help but didn’t know where he would need her.
“I called him and asked if he had any missions for me … since I didn’t have the medical qualifications to be involved,” she said. “He told me he had been praying for somebody to come to open up doors with the university, and said if I was willing to teach English, he had a job for me.”
Edwards helped at the university three days a week.
“The other two days we went to a missionary school and taught drama,” she said, “At the university, they wanted to know more about America. It was real funny because they couldn’t pronounce ‘Brianna’ so they called me ‘Yama’, which made it fun.”
The children had a wild curiosity about Americans.
“They asked all kinds of questions – what we do, what we study (education),” she said, “I got to share that I study music, which made them want to hear me sing. Earlier that morning I woke up and had the song ‘Lead Me to the Cross’ stuck in my head. Therefore, I knew God wanted me to sing it. I got through the first chorus, and one girl stopped me and said, ‘Yama, that was beautiful. It sounded like a love song’ and asked what it meant. So I got to talk about how it is a love song about my Savior.”
Back in the States, specifically on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, Miles O’Neil spent 10 weeks serving with another UMHB student and an alumna. O’Neil worked with junior Mark Miller and Dani Beth Crosby, the graduate who now resides in Hawaii. The three got their summer positions through the North American Mission Board.
“The VBS included a Bible study, recreation and music class. In the afternoons we would have ukulele, Japanese and sign language classes too. We’d also take them on field trips once a week all over the island.”
Traveling the island, however, isn’t what O’Neil remembers most.
“The best part was getting to love on the kids, and they loved on us, too,” he said. “We tried to focus on the elementary teachings of the Gospel since we had kindergartners, It was cool seeing kids that really understand at such a young age. Hopefully, the head knowledge turns into heart knowledge,” he said.
In leisure times, O’Neil got to experience what it’s like to get “hit by some waves that literally took you off your feet,” as well as hiking throughout the island.
“Ten weeks was the longest I’ve been on a mission trip,” he said, “and I’ve never been anywhere as pretty as Hawaii.”
Upon returning home, O’Neil reflected on his time in Hawaii.
“One good thing I took out from this summer was the importance of being missionly minded and the effect of having good Christian brothers and sisters around you to help sharpen you,” he said.
During June, sophomore Bethany Franz went to Amarillo with the youth group from her home church.
“It was a ten-hour drive. As soon as we got there and unpacked at the camp we stayed at, we began preparation for
the next morning,” Franz said. “We did backyard Bible clubs in four different locations in Amarillo. There were two teams within our group, so each did a club in the morning and one in the afternoon,” she said.
The teams worked in public places in hopes of bringing families in to share the Gospel, and establishing relationships opened more doors.
“There were huge blow-up moon walks to draw kids’ attention to us. We spent the fi rst 30 minutes or so just loving on them and building relationships,” Franz said.“After playing with them, we did crafts and got to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we usually ended the day with snow cones and water balloons.”
Franz believes her group connected with the locals.
“It was so hard to say goodbye, and through it all we had six kids come to know Christ as their Savior,” she said. “I loved being able to leave that place, knowing seeds were planted and each of them heard the truth and hope of Jesus.”