March 12, 2010
Editor's note: Students' last names are withheld for the safety of the people with whom they worked and to not hinder future travel arrangements to places which may not be open to a Christian witness.
Many people want to travel -- to go, to move, to get an up-close-and-personal look at the world God created. One group of Oklahoma Baptist University students traveled to East Asia as part of their January Term not only to see the world, but also with love in their hearts to help people.
The trip was a partnership between OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The purpose of the trip was to support Southern Baptist representatives who live in East Asia by helping teach English and build relationships with the college students in the area. While in Asia, the students encountered firsthand that God is everywhere.
Oklahoma Baptist University students visit with a vendor during a January Term trip to East Asia.
"He is definitely not just a God of America," said Hannah, an OBU junior psychology pre-counseling major from Columbus, Texas, who went on the trip. "He is the God of the whole world, and he loves all His children, even when they either don't love Him back or don't believe in Him."
Establishing a bond with the local students was important to the OBU students who sought to share God's love through genuine relationships.
"While we were there, we prayer walked around the city we were in, we encouraged (fellow Christian believers) however we could, and we met new people at coffee shops and restaurants," said Heather, a junior applied communications major from Oklahoma City. "And if the opportunity arose, we shared the Gospel with them."
The OBU students on the trip said they realized they were offered a unique opportunity not shared by all their peers. The students came to realizations about themselves, their spiritual lives and the greater world.
"Going to East Asia helped me realize how selfish I was in my relationship with the Lord and that I needed to share the gift He gave me, not only with the rest of the world, but with my friends and family around me at home," Hannah said. "The Lord really showed me that His plans are great, and mine are insignificant."
College-age students in East Asia share a moment of fun with their new friends from Oklahoma Baptist University.
Heather said she experienced a similar revelation.
"The trip affected me many ways," she said. "The main thing I have been telling people is that God really showed me how much he loves people He created, even though they deny him as their creator. He loves them just as much as he loves me.
"I also learned a lot about loving people beyond words. Since there was a language barrier between us, I really had to learn to show Christ with my actions, not just my words."
OBU encourages its students to go out and practice Jesus' words in Mark 1:17. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "And I will make you fishers of men." Partnering with the BGCO and other entities, the GO Center ensures the students have opportunities to spread the good news of Jesus Christ around world.
"OBU is obviously committed to going to the nations, as evidence by our strong commitment to GO (Global Outreach) and our partnership with the Kai people," said Lindsey Ruthart, OBU's community ministry coordinator. "By providing opportunities for students and faculty members to go, it has helped each one of us to grow and has given us an ability to share our experiences with fellow employees and the university at large."
Asian students practice English during a class conducted with the help of Oklahoma Baptist University students in East Asia in January.
Ellen, a sophomore biblical languages major from Holdenville, Okla., said the trip changed her worldview.
"This trip opened my eyes to the spiritual warfare around me and also to how powerful my God is," she said. "This trip gave me an even greater passion for the world and especially the people of East Asia. The people there are hopeless, and they are searching for something to fulfill them. I can't count the number of people who, when asked what their spiritual leanings are, told me they believed in themselves. I can't imagine how empty that must feel at times. My life would be utterly hopeless if all I was relying upon and hoping in was myself. I'm not that great or capable.
"However, it was encouraging to meet and get to know believers there because that gave me hope for the future of East Asia. Revival there will not come down to the work foreigners do there, but it is the responsibility of Asian Christians to show their nations the hope and salvation they have found in Jesus Christ. God is not just the hope for Americans, he is the hope for the whole world."