By Mckenzie Masters
Several students took advantage of two new Global Opportunities mission trips to New Orleans and New York City during spring break last month.
Union’s Office of Spiritual Life sponsored 12 GO trips in spring 2013.
“For the New Orleans trip, there were also opportunities over the summer to connect with the work of Hope Church and Matt and Elaine Tipton, both Union graduates,” said Julie Bradfield, director of student mobilization. “New Orleans is known to have its own culture and identity, which creates unique barriers and bridges to the Gospel.”
Many New Orleans residents were first positively exposed to the church through hospitality and generosity following Hurricane Katrina, but many are now left with questions about their religious beliefs or lack thereof, Bradfield said.
When students arrived in New Orleans, they met Matt Tipton, pastor of Hope Church and president of the Parent Teacher Organization board at Airline Park Academy, said Christa Seyler, sophomore nursing major.
“On Sunday, we helped out at a New Orleans football game and assisting children with crafts,” Seyler said, adding the group spent much of the week working at the school building in the morning and in the Metairie and Kenner neighborhoods in the afternoon.
There, students hung flyers on doors that specified Hope Church’s Holy Week services.
Amanda Dick, senior biology major, recounted her favorite experience.
“We were able to host a crawfish boil for local college students and basically get to know them and have intentional conversations with them,” Dick said.
Seyler said she enjoyed it, too.
“[The] crawfish boil has taken its place among the top 10 best days of my life,” Seyler said.
“I learned that New Orleans is a city that desperately needs Jesus,” Dick said. “My heart broke for the people down there.”
Those who traveled to New York City helped a local church.
“Over the summer break we had an unexpected visit from a Union alum who currently serves with the Gallery Church,” Bradfield said. “As a result of that visit and further conversations with the pastor of Gallery Church, we felt the timing was right to move forward with a GO trip to New York City.
“While this is a domestic destination, this trip provides a lot of cultural and religious diversity. In addition, ministry in a busy, suburban setting looks very different from ministry here. It is our hope that students begin to see how God is at work among those living in cities as well as among the nations here in the U.S.”
Jessica Duck, junior education major, said students passed out invitations on streets to attend an Easter party at Gallery Church.
She added that a small percentage of New York City residents are evangelical, a number that is on the rise.