“All things new.” In bold letters on the face of the 2012 Global Outreach (GO) Trip books, those three words mirror the fresh approach being taken to this year’s university-sponsored mission trips.
Colorful photographs from previous trips around the globe fill the pages and accompany the official announcement of the 2012 trip locations.
The books were released during Global Opportunities (GO) Week in past years, but this year they were handed out a few weeks early.
“It gives you more time to think and pray about where you want to go,” said Rusty Tuders, senior youth ministry major. He participated in a trip to Honduras last spring and is a member of the GO Week leadership team.
GO Week highlights the opportunities students have to be involved with missions year-round — in Jackson and around the world. As usual, GO Week, held Sept. 19–23, will feature chapel speakers, ministry fairs and special sessions. Applications for GO Trips will be due by Sept. 23.
Deciding what trip for which to apply may also be easier this year since the trips are now grouped into one of three categories: living, learning and serving.
These categories are intended to encourage applicants to think about the best type of trip for them rather than just the physical location, said Julie Bradfield, director of student mobilization.
Nursing students could find their best fit in the “learning” category, on the annual medical trip to the Dominican Republic. Students interested in serving could find their niche in areas such as church planting, orphan care and collegiate ministry. For those seeking a longer experience, “living” trips span several weeks in the summer and provide a glimpse of long-term ministry.
Regardless of category, all trips are designed “to provide members of the Union University community a chance to pursue Christ’s ministry of reconciliation to the world,” according to the GO book.
The GO trip to Isreal is now under the “learning” category. Students learn from touring Biblical sites, but also share their faith.
In 2011, Tucker Messamore, junior biblical languages major, participated in the trip.
His team formed relationships with the primarily Muslim university students, giving them an opportunity to start conversations about Christ.
“It was a slow process, but I think some seeds were planted during that time,” Messamore said.
While many mission trips are available to students, Bradfield said Union’s GO trips give students a unique opportunity to travel alongside their peers and with a faculty member, enhancing their university experience.
“It’s a good experience to get out of the country or to see the different areas of our country that are in need of the light,” Tuders said. “It’s a good way to build community with people you don’t know. When you’re forced outside of your comfort zone with a group of people, you kind of cling to that group, and you get to know them.”
The training GO teams receive for their trips and the things they learn from their experience are relevant no matter what vocation they plan on entering, Bradfield said.
“You’re learning to share your faith, you’re understanding the Gospel more, you’re learning to intentionally engage with non-believers and you’re hopefully seeing examples of healthy ministries,” Bradfield said.
Teams will live, serve and learn this year in Botswana; Dominican Republic; Germany; Israel; Memphis, Tenn.; Boston; Honduras; Illinois; Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn.; North Africa; Providence R.I.; Romania; Tampa, Fla.; East Asia; Central Asia; and the Middle East.
“We want people to go on a GO trip and then go live intentionally — in the corporate world, in the classroom or in a hospital — wherever you are,” Bradfield said.
For more information about GO Week, visit www.uu.edu/events/goweek.