Gardner-Webb University sent 71 people on mission
    May 21 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    Doubling 2011’s number of mission trips, Gardner-Webb University (GWU) sent six teams March 8-18.

    “We are especially excited about the great variety of projects and ministry activities our six teams are pursuing this year,” said Tracy Jessup, vice president for Christian life and service and senior minister to the university, in a press release. 
    One team went to Shelby Mission Camp. Another worked with a community outreach ministry in Lake Providence, La. The other four teams went overseas leading wellness clinics and conducting health assessments in Jinotega, Nicaragua, and Bucharest, Romania; serving orphaned youth at a children’s home in Fortaleza, Brazil; and assisting a school for the deaf in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
    Chelsea Usher, a senior English major, went to Lake Providence, La., for her first mission trip. She could have chosen to go to Paris with other honor students but instead she painted in an impoverished area.
    “We were welcomed into the community by a number of people from a variety of denominations, and were even invited to attend a Lenten lunch hosted by two of the local churches,” Usher said.
    “I learned just how much need there is within the confines of the U.S.,” said Usher. “Don’t get me wrong, international mission trips are wonderful, but this trip helped me to realize that there is just as much work to be done and love to be shown inside our own country.”
    As a nursing major, Tara Roberts, a junior and member of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, felt a medical mission trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua, was an excellent opportunity to serve God, explore another country and use some of the skills she’s learned.

    Photo by Jessica Hibbard

    A member of Mud Creek Baptist Church, Tara Roberts, center, helps with an eye exam in Nicaragua. Roberts was part of a team from Gardner-Webb University. See photo gallery.

    One of the larger goals was a three-day vision clinic. The group traveled to three rural areas and set up at local schools. Nicaraugans were given vision and blood pressure screenings, glasses, clothing and shoes. GWU students taught some of the local healthcare professionals and firefighters CPR.
    “I had felt God’s hand pushing me towards missions for a while, and I knew Nicaragua was an open door to take His Word to others,” Roberts said.
    Roberts was joined by 26 other students and two nursing professors. Being her first international mission trip, Roberts wasn’t sure what to expect.
    “Nicaragua was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen,” Roberts said. “Pictures do not do it justice.  However, there were some very devastating parts of the trip. The health care is nowhere near what we are used to here in the U.S. and by no means is [it] up to our standards.”
    Roberts said it was a humbling experience to visit the dump and the 20 families that live there. She will never forget the smiling faces of those people in spite of their living conditions. “It was incredible to see how much God worked and moved on this trip, and I will never forget the feelings, emotions, and movement of Christ,” Roberts said. “I learned to appreciate and not take for granted anything I have been blessed with.  These people have very little yet were so appreciative of even the little things they were given.” 
    Blanca Flor Torres, a sophomore studying nursing, wanted to experience a mission field outside the United States.
    “I learned that people everywhere are in such need,” said Torres of her time in Nicaragua. “Yes, physically our body is always in need: shelter, warmth, water, food, healing, but more importantly, they are in greater need spiritually.”
    “Sometimes I don’t realize that there is as much spiritual need at home as there is anywhere else. We are called to do missions, whether it is in another country or maybe even at home. But my prayer, my constant prayer is that God will continue to give me His words so that I may go and make disciples. I desire to have an overwhelming passion for God and for Him to break my heart for what breaks His.” 
    Caitlin Blazek, a graduating senior from Gardner-Webb and member of Masonboro Baptist Church in Wilmington, considered another trip through the university. But the biology major who aspires to be a physician assistant decided going to Nicaragua would expose her to some medical experience. “It was eye opening to visit these places [in Nicaragua] and see how they do medicine,” Blazek said. “The dump, however, was an experience beyond what we could have prepared ourselves for. Several families live there, competing with stray dogs, chickens, and vultures for food.”

    Blazek mentioned the numerous flies that enveloped the group as they got out of their van. “Despite the awful situations, we found joyous children and a church body there,” she said. “We were reminded that God is not limited by language barriers like we may be sometimes. His love can transcend languages, and that was awesome to see.”

    Related story
    Students skip ‘break’ to serve
    5/21/2012 1:44:07 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Missions, University

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