May 21 2012 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    While most people picture spring break as a time to escape to the beach or the mountains, North Carolina Baptist college students took time to serve.
     
    “We were able to share the gospel with hundreds of Hindus and Muslims, many of whom asked for our translators to come back and share more about Jesus in the near future,” said Nathan Finn, associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
     
    Finn led 11 students to South Asia. “We’re hopeful some of this interest will result in conversions, baptisms, and, Lord willing, local churches.”
     
    Southeastern partnered with national translators who aspire to plant churches in South Asia.
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    Contributed photo

    Karen Ayala, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary student, stops for a photo while on a mission trip in South Asia. View photo gallery.


    Through the seminary’s Center for Great Commission Studies, Finn is trying to establish a long-term relationship in this particular region. The people who live there are among the poorest and are located in the most densely populated area of the world.
     
    “The combination of vast lostness plus the presence of solid missionaries with a tie to SEBTS make it a good [region] for us to regularly send mission teams,” Finn said.
     
    Tim Clemons, a member of Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville who is studying to be a church planter, said, “It was very eye opening.”
     
    “In scripture we read that there will be worshipers before the throne of God from all nations, but I never really thought about what that might be like,” he said. “While we were there we heard some locals pray, and it hit me: these people are real, they aren’t just statistics or pictures in a book or on TV. They bear the image of God, and God loves them.”
     
    While Clemons feels “relational evangelism is best,” he said, “this is not always possible. On a short-term mission trip you are often meeting lots of people that you will only see that one time.”
     
    Sharing the gospel, however, is key to “God setting foundations through the team, and then building it up with the missionaries who live on the field.”
     
    Karen C. Ayala, a member at North Wake Church in Wake Forest, said her trip to South Asia was “completely the Lord’s work.”
     
    Ayala, who just finished her first year in pursuit of a master’s degree in biblical counseling, usually goes to El Salvador when she gets a break from school because that is where her family lives.
     
    Although she had traveled to a number of countries, Ayala had never been to a predominantly Muslim nation.
     
    “For me I was not stricken by the poverty although it was heavy,” she said. “I was more taken aback by the sense of oppression and just a heavy burden for a nation that is lost. There was no escaping the oppression especially when you are reminded five times a day that this nation is lost.”
     
    “Being placed in a setting such as this I was reminded of how it is vital that the true believer must always abide in the word of God, abide in prayer, knowing that apart from Him we can do nothing,” she said.
     
    New York
    Savannah Swift’s second mission trip took her to the Big Apple. A sophomore at the University of N.C. at Charlotte and member of Parkwood Baptist Church in Concord, Swift said the trip also took her the farthest she’d ever been away from home without her parents.
     
    “I was super excited to see what God had in store for me,” Swift said.
     
    As part of a larger gathering of college students from across N.C., Swift took part in a scavenger hunt designed to familiarize the students with the five boroughs. All the girls shared a room with bunk beds in Metropolitan New York Baptist Association’s headquarters.
     
    As part of the church planting team, Swift prayer walked, cleaned, picked up trash, did construction and shared the gospel.
     
    “Our group was really special,” Swift said. “We all went into this trip with fears of praying in groups, fears of sharing Jesus with the lost, and fears of being uncomfortable. We learned that it’s not all about being comfortable, it’s about sharing God and His great love with just one lost person.”
     
    Rebecca Miller, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) and member of Newbridge Baptist Church in Asheville, said she was excited to be part of possibly her last Baptist Student Union trip before graduating in December.
     
    Miller helped with English as a Second Language (ESL) among Fuganese people in New York.
     
    “It was wonderful to worship and serve the Lord with a group of fellow believers that did not even speak our same language,” Miller said. “It was amazing to feel the spirit of the Lord in a worship service where the language was completely foreign to us. It showed me that God’s grace transcends words and cultural boundaries.”
     
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    Contributed Photo

    A group of students from N.C. colleges paint in New York. Different teams were sent out to do some clean-up work as well as church planting. View photo gallery.


    After services, Miller practiced English conversation skills with Fuganese believers. “If they had trouble with certain words or trouble expressing certain ideas, we would help them out,” Miller said. “Although we were there to help teach them, I feel that I learned just as much as they did.”
     
    Attending lengthy worship services, some that lasted “almost all day,” opened Miller’s eyes.
     
    “In our society, we often complain about getting up and going to church for one, maybe two hours, and we definitely don’t spend the better part of the day traveling to get there,” she said. “Their unceasing motivation to worship the Lord made me feel so guilty about all the times I have checked my watch during church or wondered how much longer the sermon would last. It made me realize that nothing is more important than spending time in the Word and spending time with the Lord and that there is no better way to do this than fellowship with other believers.”
     
    Matt Blakeley, a rising senior at North Carolina State University, could have used his break to work or do nothing, but he felt called to go to New York.
     
    At first, he was planning on participating in the construction track, where he felt comfortable. But he chose church planting, working with Connection Church in Astoria.
     
    “The New York mission trip was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “I really got the chance to step out of my comfort zone and see God work and do great things in a community. I learned that I needed to put aside my plans and let God use me for his plan. I needed to let go of my fears and step out of my comfort zone.”

    Related story
    Gardner-Webb University sent 71 people on mission
    5/21/2012 1:50:19 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Missions, SEBTS, University




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