Students take Gospel to the world through GO trips

Lauren Jekowsky from Campus Crusade at the University of Tampa, instructs the GO Tampa team how to tie-dye on March 21, 2011. | Submitted photo by Lindsay Olford .

By Ebbie Davis

The word “go” on the Union University campus is rarely thought of as a movement from one place to another; instead it has taken on a completely different meaning — Global Opportunities.

Each semester, teams made up of many different students from a variety of backgrounds get together and prepare to take the Gospel to the world. During Union’s spring break, 12 teams departed to take on this challenge by participating in a GO trip.

Students spent their spring breaks spread throughout the globe, both nationally and internationally. They felt the urgent need in their surrounding cities, as well as in third-world countries, to spread the love of Jesus Christ through their gifts and fields. Students are able to serve certain parts of the world because of their well-defined majors and the ability to use what Union has taught them.

The overseas GO trip locations this spring were Guatemala, Honduras, North Africa, Paris, Romania and Ukraine. Domestic GO sites included Boston; Carbondale, Ill.; Nashville, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Tampa, Fla.; and Providence, R.I. Each team was matched with believers in the area they visited in an effort for continuing evangelism and discipleship after Union’s teams left.

Robert Walker, sophomore computer science major, went on the GO Guatemala trip and described his experience as life-changing and Christ-moving. His team was involved in helping an orphanage called “Casa Para Niños Alleluya,” where they served 433 children and interacted with the college students living and working at the orphanage, as well as ministering through activities and working on various construction projects.

“(God) used the trip to reveal to me areas of my lifestyle that need to change,” Walker said. “In particular, my trust issues and pride. He used the brokenness of one child in particular to break through the self-sufficiency and self-centrality I had built up in myself.”

Walker said Tony, the boy who changed his life on this trip, stood alone with few friends because of the fact that he did not like to play soccer in a culture where soccer is almost essential to everyday life.

“For some reason Tony decided to be my friend,” Walker said. “I was able to get to know him over the week and see that inside the stoic and uncaring exterior there was a boy desperate to be accepted and loved, even though he was not like most other guys. Being able to spend time and love on him was worth all the time and money I had to lay aside, which ultimately was God’s anyway.”

Lindsay Olford, sophomore Spanish major, served on the Tampa GO trip where she said she had seven teammates and two leaders. She had originally planned to go on a trip overseas, but felt the need to go to Tampa instead.

The Tampa team worked in an area that was 78 percent lost and un-churched alongside a team from a local church plant called Covenant Life Church.

“A big part of our ministry in Tampa was assisting CLC in further establishing and developing relationships in the different areas of the community that they serve,” Olford said. “The Tampa trip was incredible. God united us as a team in our urgency to share the Gospel. It was a blessing to serve a church that seeks to grow in their faith and serve their community.”

The Union spring GO trips encouraged students to get out of their comfort zones and reach people on a different level. The Tampa team also got the opportunity to witness to celebrities while on their prayer walk. Jordan Timbs, junior physical education and health major, said his team was able to talk to Cameron Diaz and explained to her what they were doing in Tampa.

“We told her Jesus Christ died for her and he loves her and because of that we love her too,” Timbs said. “Toward the end of the conversation she thanked us and said, ‘I think it’s great you guys are out here doing this.’”

GO trips are important to Union University students and the churches, orphanages and villages influenced by them each year.

“I need to be intentional with all my relationships,” Timbs said. “I was humbled talking to homeless people and I was shocked by all the different beliefs people had. It encouraged me in my walk to continue spreading the Gospel and to continue reaching out to the hurting people of the world who need the Lord.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.