February 11, 2011
Oklahoma Baptist University students and faculty found ways to share their faith and the love of Jesus Christ in different countries last January. From Dec. 27 to Jan. 11, Dr. Alan Bandy, New Testament and Greek professor at Oklahoma Baptist University, and a team of 12 students in affiliation with the Bryan Baptist Association, took the Andes Mountains and brought the story of Jesus Christ to three native villages along the Amazon Basin of South America.
Three groups of four students accompanied by other missionaries and a translator divided amongst the three villages, which are only accessible by plane or boat. Their goal was to “meet needs, develop relationships and share the gospel,” said Bandy.
The team worked to disciple the less than two percent of the known Christians in the area and to build relationships with the people through activities such as sports, basic medical needs and children’s ministries.
Pre-med and nursing students who took part in this mission trip to South America administered basic first aid supplies such as Band-Aids, over the counter antibiotics and passed out reading glasses, which are in high demand in the area.
The “glasses were probably the biggest hit,” said Bandy, “because out in the jungle they have nothing.”
Bandy explained how the journey from these villages to the city takes the natives about two to three days by boat, and therefore many people do not leave the village often.
Rather they live off of the land and make do with the things they have.
“They live so simply… they just have each other and that’s all they need,” said freshman Biology/Pre-med major Jennifer Jett, who went on to explain how generous and receptive the natives were to all of the team members.
Not only nursing and pre-med students were able to lend aid.
Some of the team members went on hunting trips with the men of the village and some helped fish.
There were evening games where the entire community gathered together to play soccer and volleyball, as well as storytelling, games and a Vacation Bible School atmosphere for the kids.
Each village has a small church that students were able to preach to the people, minister and offer discipleship to those that constituted the church.
For some, such as Bandy, this was a return trip to this area of South America, but others felt led to go for other reasons.
“I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and do something that challenged my faith,” said Jett.
Other trips to South America are in the making for next year and many hope to return to the Amazon and continue the work they have already started.
“I am addicted,” said Jett, “it is definitely one thing I would like to do again.”
Other students had similar feelings about Rahab’s Rope.
Founded in December of 2004, David and Vicki Moore work to prevent the sale of South Asian women into the sex trade.
For 11 days students helped in tutoring programs, sewing classes and health clinics that were provided for the people in order to teach the women a trade, and encourage their children to work hard in school and get an education.
The team from OBU spent time interacting with the kids in storytelling and games, as well as administering basic first aid supplies to those in need.
Three to four teams traveled door to door in three cities to offer prayer and build relationships with the families in the slum houses.
“They were very receptive and so generous,” said sophomore Sociology major Sara Quesenbury, “it was amazing to go in there and see everything.”
The living conditions are very poor and the cities are not at all sanitary, “they had literally nothing,” said sophomore Communications major Lauren Smith.
She went on to explain how many of the women are uneducated and married off at very young ages, so it becomes difficult for women to be independent. They are considered a dependant of their families or husbands all their lives and thus it is very easy for them to be sold into the sex trade to make money as they are often viewed as a burden to their families.
Therefore, in teaching them a trade they will be able to get jobs in factories in the city and be able to make enough money to provide for themselves.
“God blessed America and now it is our turn to bless the world,” said Quesenbury.
She explained how she was unsure if they could make a huge impact in the lives of the women in South Asia and in this particular sex trade.
However, she still found purpose and reason to minister to the women in these slum houses, “I know we can make a difference to one person, and let them know that they are loved by God.”
In reference to the students at OBU Smith said, “It just takes one person to make a difference… in our generation I feel like there is going to be a great Christian movement of the gospel being spread.”
Rahab’s Rope is an ongoing ministry in Southern Asia that Smith believes will continue to receive help from OBU, “We’re excited; we’re ready to go back,” said Smith.
She went on to explain how God can use everyone’s’ gifts and talents in any mission field, “Love is the only training you need,” Smith said.
The final trip taken this past J-Term was also spent in Southern Asia.
Oklahoma Baptist University adopted the Kai people in the fall of 2006 and have taken many trips to South Asia devoted to developing relationships and sharing the message of Jesus Christ through storytelling and discipleship of the few Christians that are already there.
Because the Kai are such a strong community based people, students focus on finding what is called a ‘House of Peace.’
Senior Tram Nguyen, a fine arts major at OBU explained how this ‘House of Peace’ is essentially a family that is overly interested in hearing about the gospel and hearing what the students have to share with them.
She went on to describe an ongoing network of ministry that is harbored from this one house, “having a national there to disciple that family they will in turn go tell their neighbors, and their neighbors will get interested in it and tell others,” said Nguyen.
Because the Kai people have only recently been adopted by OBU, students and faculty alike are still learning about the culture and needs of this people group.
Even still, there are many ways for students to get involved in ministry to these people, “these trips really bring your major to life as far as what you can do in missions,” said Nguyen.
Some students were able to share worship times in music and teaching those in the churches how to teach and preach in ways that the people can better understand the gospel message.
Nguyen explained how these trips would not only help students engage in mission work and utilize their majors, but also opened the door for the Christian translators to go back into the villages and not be restricted from sharing their faith and continuing to minister to the Kai people.