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Mission trips create cultural awareness

A young traveler walked among the numerous jewelry and fabric stands in the fly infested marketplace under the clouded African sun. The faces of the shopkeepers brightened as the ?Toubab,? or white person, stopped to talk about the message of Christ.

The humid heat created uncomfortable conditions for the mission team, and swarming flies proved a nuisance.

?At lunch time we killed 14 flies in one swat.? Corinne Pogue, ?06, said.

Time closed in as Pogue shared the message of Christ with a local ?Mufinga? man in the crowded African marketplace. Returning to her team?s compound, the novice missionary wondered about the man?s salvation.

Three hours later, a knock came on her door. At her surprise the man from the market stood there. Filled with compassion and Christ?s love she gave the man a Bible.

The man returned once again, this time to bring his brother to hear the message of Christ. The risk taken by this man may have possibly ended his life. In Gambia, Africa, becoming a Christian often means never seeing his family again. Death is a common consequence.

However for the man in the market, the risk was well worth a chance at love in the midst of life?s pains.

The summer presents students a freedom to pursue new endeavors to reach out to the privation in the world. ?I?ve wanted to go to Africa since I was 10,? Pogue said. ?I?m interested in missions so I thought it would be a great chance to test the waters.?

Pogue fulfilled her long desire to depart on a mission trip by traveling to Gambia with Royal Servants. She and her team performed drama skits for kids in local schools and hospitals. The school children overflowed the two-story balconies as her team danced to the Christian song ?Shackles? by Mary Mary, then as Pogue played Eve in the story of the fall of man.

?The people were so open to us,? Pogue said. ?They were very receptive and just wanted to be loved.?

New cultures often intimidate visiting missionaries as unfamiliar traditions create questions. An interesting and confusing Brazilian tradition on birthdays is to throw eggs, flour, and various ingredients on the birthday boy or girl’s head.

?It was like throwing a birthday cake on a person?s head,? Aliza Ford, ?07, said. ?It was very weird.?

Ford traveled with Northside Christian Church to Brazil for one week. Once she arrived she helped a church in Brazil. Her group gave seminars at the local church in Uruguaiana. Ford helped teach English on the trip.

Mission trips provide many new experiences and cultural awareness. Fanta a popular soft drink commonly seen in movie theater previews provided a funny cultural experience for Jordan Hogue, ?06, who went to San Juan Di Marichi in Brazil.

?We were all sitting at a table eating dinner with all the deacons of the local church,? Hogue said. ?They served Fanta, so I started dancing and singing the Fanta theme song, but nobody laughed. It was an awkward moment.?

Traveling to other countries creates a new awareness of God?s presence. Serving on a mission trip not only helps the disadvantaged locals, but also brings better understanding of God to those who sacrifice their time.

?God works in crazy ways,? Hogue said. ?About 6,000 people accepted Christ during the trip.?

Mission trips create a realization of new motivations in life.

?Going to Brazil showed me I need to be more passionate,? Ford said.

When placed in an unfamiliar environment, faith deepens, often out of necessity.

?I was put in a situation where we had to depend on God,? Pogue said. ?I learned that prayer does not need to be just a ritual.?

Those who choose to answer the call to serve Christ outside the comforts of modern convenience, return enlightened and closer to discovering God?s purpose for their lives. To travel on a mission trip is to cast aside selfish comfort and reach out to those in need of Christ?s love. It is to take advantage of a possibly life-changing experience.

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