The apostle Paul, William Carey, Mary Slessor, and Jim Elliot are all examples of people on a mission. While these people listed are rather famous for the mission work in which they partook, there are ordinary people like you and me that are completing missions. It goes without saying that there is local mission work to be done. However, there are also needs across seas and in other countries. At Greenville University, we believe both to be important, therefore offer both types of mission opportunities.
Faith Nava is the Coordinator of Study Abroad and Travel Programs at Greenville. While she is in her fifth year in this position, she has been connected with mission agencies for a near 25 years. These connections have allowed her to pair students with a numerous number of countries to go on mission trips or study abroad. She has helped students travel to New Orleans, Malawi-Africa, Spain, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, France, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, and more! Nava says, “It’s wherever God opens doors.”
For any student interested in missions or study abroad, Nava should be your first point of contact. She will help you set up your fundraising account, choose a place to visit, and then connect you with a program in that place. If God has placed a mission on your heart, email her to set up a date and time to meet and discuss options! If God is calling, GO!
To get a better grasp at what missions and studying abroad at GU look like, let me give you three prime examples of students that have been involved in this work in the past:
David Martin, a senior at GU studying Spanish, combined mission work and study abroad and spent eight weeks in Mexico City in the summer of 2017. He spent this time going to class and working with his assigned church. He speaks highly of this experience because it not only improved his Spanish, but it heightened his love for learning about other cultures and appreciate the food. In his own words, “Most importantly, I learned more about God through the relationships I made with my host family, host church family, and others. God worked a lot of patience and perseverance into me while I was in Mexico. Specifically, He showed me how to be patient because so many people were gracious and patient with me as I stumbled along in a new culture and new language.” Martin would suggest this to anyone because new perspectives about life can be found on an adventure such as mission work or study abroad. “We traveled a little bit around Mexico and just seeing the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and the Basilica and touring the Anthropological Museum is something that someone could describe to you, but it wouldn’t do it justice. To get the full effect, you’ll just have to go to Mexico City!!!” Martin exclaims.
- Macy Sullens has traveled abroad to Costa Rica through GU four times! As impressive as that may sound, she says, “All of these have been totally God planned. I did a lot of praying, and He keeps sending me back.” A normal day during Sullens’ mission work was nearly non-existent, for it was constantly changing. She was always working with new people in kids ministries, women’s ministries, or construction sites. When it comes to her study abroad experience, it consisted of class and working as a tutor. Sullens’ advice to others looking into doing something similar is,”...through trusting God, He will lead you where you need to be. We don’t have to be confident in ourselves or what we are doing to be confident that God brought us here. If He leads you, you are capable.” Each of her four trips has changed her life. With that being said, Sullens’ would suggest it to others, without-a-doubt. You learn about God, another culture, and even yourself. Sullens is exceptionally grateful for this opportunity that Greenville has provided. Fortunately for Sullens, Students International, the organization that she traveled with, gave her a job to help students learn more about their opportunities! Her involvement is a gift that keeps on giving!
Another senior at GU that has traveled to Mexico City, Wesley Woodard, chose to do mission work instead of regular studying abroad to be sure to interact with and learn about a new culture. Woodard’s time with her host family definitely allowed her to do that! Her host family showed her different parts of the city, including Frieda Kahlo's house! Her mission work consisted of volunteering at El Reposo, which was a home for women with mental illnesses. Woodard’s list of things she learned during the trip is endless. A substantial piece was to try new things. “One of my friends told me before I left that I should just say yes to everything that anyone asks me to do. Obviously, that is not a great idea in all circumstances, but I knew what she meant. Anytime I was invited somewhere or asked to try something new I just said yes. Even though several of these things were outside of my comfort zone, I am so glad that I did them because they are some of my favorite memories from the summer,” she recorded. An additional learning opportunity was about God. She says, “ I learned that He is in control and that He wants to use me for his purposes even when I don't feel like I measure up. My faults do not hinder His plan because His grace more than covers all of my weaknesses. I also learned that God is so big. He is the God of all cultures, not just the culture that I am familiar with.” While it was difficult to be away from home, Woodard would recommend mission work and study abroad at GU because it submerges you in the culture and you come home with so many stories and experiences to share.
These stories are real. These stories are life-changing. These stories are shaping the world we live in. Are you on a mission?