Four Oklahoma Baptist University students and two alumni traveled to East Asia June 1-July 2. The group focused their time and energy on building relationships with local college students in hopes they would be able to share the Gospel. The Eastern part of Asia has over 100 colleges that are filled with young adults searching for meaning and fulfillment in life. Through these new friendships, the team witnessed lives changed by the powerful love of Jesus.
Each year, dozens of students, faculty and staff take Global Outreach (GO) Trips which enforce OBU's mission to transform lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world and live worthy of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach mobilizes, trains and oversees GO Trips.
The team stayed in a host home in East Asia. Surrounded by mountains, the area is considered to be the "countryside." Although they were located 30 minutes from the city district, the area still had many urban comforts, such as taxis and buses. The team spent most of their time at the university close to their host home.
"We stayed right across the street from the university that we worked," one OBU student said. "This made it easy for last minute lunch appointments or even to just go 'hang out' on campus. I really enjoyed where we were."
This student said she didn't originally choose to go to East Asia. She applied for a GO trip, but didn't specify a country -trusting that God would send her where she needed to go. Dr. Joy Turner, director of Global Mobilization at OBU, soon suggested the East Asia GO trip.
"I prayed about it and really felt God's peace about going," she said. "I really believe that it was all a God thing. I know I was serving where I was supposed to be."
Another student, a senior special education and elementary education major, said God laid East Asia on her heart during a previous trip to the same area. During the summer of 2013, she spent time in East Asia, teaching English to elementary students.
"It was such a blessing to be there [last summer] and I couldn't wait to return and see what His plans were for me this time as well," she said.
Although there was a language barrier, God provided translators and the group was able to form friendships with several students.
"They're very social, but the people as a whole are searching for a higher meaning in life," she said. "They're looking for something more than just the dream everyone has of a good college education, a good job, a good marriage and great children. They're beginning to realize that it won't satisfy them."
One evening the group watched a Gospel film with a few local students. One of the locals was engrossed while watching the crucifixion of Jesus. "[She] could barely watch, yet she couldn't take her eyes off Jesus being nailed to the cross," she said. "It was a sweet moment when she said her favorite and most difficult part of the movie was that Jesus died so she could be forgiven."
Hearing her new friend say those words was one of the most rewarding moments of the trip. "It was so precious to see a dear friend realize this for the first time," she said.
Seeing lives changed by the Gospel is what motivates OBU to send teams around the world on GO trips. Those who participate in these trips experience first-hand how powerful and sovereign God is. Team members go with the intention of serving others, but realize tremendous blessings personally, growing closer to God and making unforgettable memories and relationships.
"It is amazing to see how God has changed me through this experience," one student said when reflecting on her trip. "He called me to get outside my comfort zone and try something new, which caused me to be more dependent and trusting toward Him. It strengthens and grows your faith and beliefs beyond what they were before."
For her, the trip changed her outlook on the world and the need for sharing the Gospel. "Going on these trips causes us to be aware and in-tune with the lost people and nations of this world," she said. "I have always thought I would teach young children; however, after this trip, I could easily see myself working with college students, if that is God's plan."
"Going somewhere to serve has the power to change your perspective on the people in your life," the second student said. "It's so amazing to see God work in great ways when we surrender and are out of our comfort zone."
"I've been twice and would go back again in a heartbeat. You never regret going, but people do regret staying behind," she said.
For more information visit www.okbu.edu/GO or call (405) 275-2850.