Sharing Hearts for the Nations
Thirty games to play with a tennis ball. That is the goal for a few freshmen girls − to create 30 games to play with children involving a tennis ball. Tasks like this are preparing students for missions this summer.
Freshman psychology major Jessica Rivas has been working with her friends Bethany Greeson and Joy Smedley to plan the games before the group leaves for Delhi, India.
“I’m nervous and excited. But I’m learning that through my nervousness it makes me depend on God more, so I’m ready,” Rivas said.
She will work with children for six weeks during the summer in the slums of India’s capital city.
“All my other summer plans … those doors just completely shut and God was like, ‘This is what I want you to do. I’m going to provide a way,’” she said.
Rivas was presented with an opportunity to work indirectly with the International Mission Board in India, but deciding to go was not simple.
“God has given me that desire and that joy for other nations … but he closed all the doors, so it really broke me and made me learn how to just be obedient to what God is calling me to do,” she said. “And then through that obedience, God opened doors.”
Rivas’ reality of spending the summer in India comes with great expectations.
She said, “The people that we will be working with are just outcasts. They live in the slums …. But for us to go and say we love you … is going to be amazing and a huge opportunity to show them what love really looks like.”
Junior Christian studies major Mark Miller will be working with children this summer. He is spending 11 weeks in Oahu, Hawaii working day camps and children’s programs along with junior Christian studies major Chase Brown and junior psychology major Erica Jenkins.
Miller said, “I’ve just always enjoyed working with kids …. It’s also about the future generation of the church and about being effective in what we do.”
The team will work five week long day camps for children in the middle of the summer and spend the rest of their time working with programs such as Awanas and children’s Sunday school. Miller spent last summer doing mission work in the same area and hopes to continue building relationships with the children he met a year ago.
“This year, hopefully, we’ll have a lot of the same kids and will continue to nurture those seeds that we planted last summer and that have been planted in summers past,” he said.
The area that the day camps are in is a not an extremely religious place, so reviving a new interest in the church is near the top of Miller’s priority list.
“Most of the kids that come to the day camp are unchurched, so hopefully they just see that the church isn’t dead. It’s alive and it’s fun for kids. And hopefully they will tell their parents about it, and more families will be involved in church,” he said.
Sophomore nursing major Dana Durham is working with students at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for six weeks during the summer. The first few weeks her team will work off campus with a student organization called Navigators, and the last few weeks will be spent on campus.
Durham said, “We will be going on campus and leading Bible studies
for students because students from 78 different countries go to the university …. It’s really important to minister to them because after they graduate, they spread out.”
Raising money is an issue that most missionaries face, Durham included, so she worked to find a unique way for support. Instead of selling T-shirts like many do, Durham decided to hold a garage sale with donated items from friends and family.
“I’m going to collect everything people don’t want or don’t want to take home for summer. Hopefully I’ll raise a few hundred by doing that,” Durham said.
Durham believes that overseas missions is an experience every student should pursue.
She said, “It’s an experience you can’t get any other way. It will make you see every day as purposeful for his kingdom being spread and will make you aware of the lost people around you and how dark our world is.”