Campus ministries use spring break for missions
Biola student Adrienne Nunley speaks to a University of Utah student about Christianity. The Utah missions trip was run through Spiritual Life over spring break. | Taylor Durden/THE CHIMES
Rather than slowing down to take a restful spring break last week, three ministries — Evangelical and Mormon Interaction, California School Project and the Honduras Water Project — were sending out mission teams. Here are some of the stories and experiences told by members of these ministries, as just a glimpse into how they say God moved in each of the three trips.
EMI to Utah
EMI took 16 students to Utah to witness and build relationships in the Mormon community as well as to encourage evangelical churches. EMI’s trips involve formal dialogues with Latter-day Saints university students, street evangelism and partnering with ministries targeting Latter-day Saints students, among other tasks and projects.
This year, the group went to Utah State University and visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City, but also had an opportunity to travel to Colorado City, Ariz. — a center of Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints who continue to practice polygamy.
“It’s almost the most oppressive place I’ve been to,” junior Caroline Nam said. “They’re terrified of us because of what the prophets say about us. So we go there purposefully to reach out to them. We work with Holding Out Help, which helps bring women out of polygamy.”
The group held a barbecue at a nearby park and invited residents of the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints community.
Last month, the FLDS community of Colorado City was shocked by a fatal car accident that killed five. According to Nam, these victims were referred to as “lost sons” as they had been kicked out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“One of our team members had been praying that while we were at this park, we would be able to reach out to family members who lost loved ones from that accident,” Nam said.
Nam met a woman named Linda who came to the barbecue with her children and mother. Mid-conversation, her two-year-old said, “Jamison is dead.” Confused, Nam asked her who Jamison was and discovered that he was the child’s father — one of the five killed in the accident.
“We were surprised that a family member from that incident was actually here,” Nam said. “In the LDS faith and the FLDS [Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints] faith, you don’t talk about struggles — that’s huge. In their theology they have to be perfect to reach a certain level of heaven.”
Despite these restrictions of Linda’s faith, she admitted the pain of her grieving, Nam explained, and told her all about Jamison and the accident.
“When we left, the organization we were working with contacted her to see if she wanted out of the polygamist community,” Nam said.
Two other women in that Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints community with whom Holding Out Help had been working were freed from polygamy that same night.
“We literally took them in our vans and drove away, all the way to Utah and got them out of that community,” Nam said. “That’s been unbelievable to see God bring women out of polygamy.”
California School Project to Calaveras
California School Project sends out teams on HomeTown trips, local mission trips to cities throughout the U.S. to work with local high school Bible clubs, putting on rallies to spread the gospel across the campuses.
This spring break, CSP sent out two groups to Calaveras and Oxnard. Senior Taylor Witcher-Page works closely with CSP as the associate HomeTown director and led the trip to Calaveras. The Calaveras High School Bible club put on lunchtime rallies each day and local churches hosted what they named, a Unite service for the club each night, for a time of worship and a message.
“Lacy, one of the club leaders, had asked [a CSP member] to pray specifically for her family because she’s the only believer in her family,” Witcher-Page said. “Finally on Wednesday she got her younger brother to come to one of the rallies.”
According to Witcher-Page, the speaker’s words caught his attention and he decided to attend the Unite service that night.
“The same speaker … came to the front and said, ‘I feel God putting on my heart that there’s a young man here who God is tugging on his heart. I just want to encourage you to come up here and pray for salvation,’” Witcher-Page said.
Although several others responded, the speaker knew there was someone in the crowd who had not yet stepped forward and continued to prompt him, she shared.
“Lacy was just bawling because she knew it was about her brother,” Witcher-Page said. “He actually told us later that he knew it was about him, too. So he walked up to the stage and started crying because he had experienced God moving in his heart.”
According to Witcher-Page, CSP saw at least 29 people come to faith in Christ, but there may have been more who were not counted.
Honduras Water Project
Every year, Honduras Water Project sends a team down to partner with an organization called Diaconia Nacional, which works to provide communities with clean water. This year, Biola sent a team of 42 students, the largest group thus far. One of these 42 was freshman Jesse Hulling, who worked specifically with the men’s ministry throughout the week.
“Our project this year was digging so we could connect pipe systems from the pump all around the city so they have running water instead of having to go to wells,” Hulling said.
According to Hulling, this was the first group Diaconia Nacional has ever worked with that was able to start and finish their entire project in the duration of their trip.
“On Friday we got to see the water going in the village,” he said. “So that was just an incredible feeling.”
Every night, the group held student-run and student-preached services and invited the entire village. One of the pastors that the team had the chance to interact with shared that his relationship with his father had been severed. It was likely because of the pastor’s faith, said Hulling, as Christians are often looked down upon as being weak. However, one night, this pastor’s father decided to attend one of the services.
“That night we were speaking on pride,” Hulling said. “At the end of the service we asked if anyone wanted to pray and the team members … walked around and prayed for people who raised their hands. This man happened to be one of them. He was crying and he realized what a prideful man he was. He prayed that God would humble him and later we found out that he accepted Christ that night.”
The team members did not realize that this man was the pastor’s father until the pastor later told them.
“That was pretty moving,” Hulling said. “The pastor was in tears over his father. So that was pretty incredible seeing the Spirit work in that.”