In his book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”, Dr. Suess describes the journey of a young man off to make waves with his life—to take in the sights.
Over the summer, many students went out on journeys of their own, not to “be seeing great sights!”, but to “join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”
The short-term missionaries joined a long list of those who have painted the world purple and gold as they covered the globe to spread the gospel. On nearly every continent, they took part in summer missions—to serve God, to love others and to enlarge their own spiritual muscles.
Through cheers and trials, God led the Crusader missionaries. Sophomore English education major Haley Higbee served in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, with Young Life Expeditions.
In the beginning, the team, comprised of two Crusaders (Higbee and sophomore environmental chemistry and business administration double major Ryan Sewell) and students from other universities, was faced with a challenged.
“Getting there was definitely God teaching me to trust in him the most,” Higbee said. “We ended up missing our connecting flight in Miami to Paris, and it put us a day behind.”
After further delays, the group wasn’t able to fly out of Paris until six p.m. the next day. By that time, they were supposed to be in Kenya.
Once they arrived in Kenya, more trouble loomed.
“In that process, I ended up losing my luggage and didn’t get it back until two days after we got back in America,” she said.
The team had also lost some money bags, which were intended as donations.
“It was really just God teaching me those are just worldly possessions. The people didn’t care what clothes we wore or what we looked like. They were fine with us just being there to love on them and build relationships with them.”
Higbee remains connected with members of her team and those she served through social media like Facebook.
“I definitely made lasting relationships; I never bonded with a group of people so fast. Africans are all about relationships. They just want you to be there and to be with them, to talk to them and get to know them.”
She also found solace in her teammates once she faced the difficulty of readjusting to life at home.
“I talk to them every day. It’s nice to have that fellowship in that I can call them and say ‘I’m really struggling with this. How I can I deal with it better?’”
Communicating is essential on missions. Whether it be to a team, to Jesus, or in witnessing, it is crucial that a firm connection is present.
Junior sport science and psychology double major Stephanie Harris was a part of a group of 23 students who traveled to Middlesborough, England.
She said “There were many who laughed and snickered once the name of Jesus was mentioned, Harris said.
“Some listened quietly to be respectful but had no interest in learning about Christ. But there were a few who were brave enough to show their curiosity, to ask questions and to be open to learning more about Christ. This response was amazing to see and experience in a place like Middlesborough.”
Either way, many of the people heard about Christ.
“God definitely planted many seeds of faith on this mission trip. Middlesborough is a very spiritually dark place, so seeing God display his glory and plant seeds there was pretty amazing,” she said.
“I didn’t personally see anyone come to know Christ, but I saw a lot of curiosity sparked about His love and sacrifice,” Harris said.
Approximately 4,690 miles away, in Chester, Jamaica, God was still moving in big ways.
Sophomore nursing major Katie Watson witnessed the Lord’s never-ending grace after she returned to Chester for the second time with a team from her home church.
“Last year we met a girl, Samantha, that had cerebral palsy,” she said. “She lives at the bottom of a steep hill and could not attend school because her mother couldn’t carry her up and down the hill.”
The community had been praying that God would provide a wheelchair for Samantha, and last year they were able to get her one.
“We went and visited her and her family again, and it was so awesome to see how much the wheelchair has changed not only her life but her family’s life. She can now attend school and go out into the community,” Watson said.
From painting basketball courts in Kenya, from encouraging non-believers over a cup of tea in England, and from putting on a Vacation Bible School in Jamaica, Crusaders infiltrated the world with the good news.
“I was very humbled because of this trip,” Harris said. “God made it very clear that he alone can change the hearts of men and that we are simply his servants who are privileged to take part in his mission.”