Vacationing with the Lord

For some students, spring break is a chance to party hard and hook up with as many people as possible. For others however, spring break is an opportunity to pray hard and reach people possible in a different kind of waywith the gospel of Jesus Christ.Several groups of students from various campus religious organizations will be spending their spring breaks on mission trips, with some traveling to Mexico and others staying in the United States.Students from the Church of Christ Student Center will be traveling to the remote Mexican villages of La Pulisima and Matlapa, located approximately 180 northeast of Mexico City, for their spring break mission trip. Twenty-nine people from the center will be participating in the trip, and the group will leave Huntsville Saturday morning, according to Church of Christ campus minister Barry Pritchard, who will be leading the trip. The group will return on March 15.The group, which will be joined by members from the Huntsville Church of Christ and a pastor from a congregation in Trinity, will be divided into two teams for their trip. One team will work in Matlapa and help begin digging the foundation for a new church building, while the other team will organize and conduct a Vacation Bible School program for children and adults in La Pullisma, Pritchard said. The theme of the program is “Christ is my Savior,” and during the program, students from the center will teach the village children about the different miracles of Jesus and also lead them in games, music, and arts and crafts activities–including decorating T-shirts, which Pritchard said is one of the children’s favorite activities.Although the teams will be working in different locations for most of the trip, Pritchard said the goal of everyone on the trip is the same.”It’s about being together with our brothers and sisters in Christ and helping them in whatever way we can,” Pritchard said.The groups will join together each night with the local people for dinner and worship. The students will stay in a hotel in Axtla during the trip, which is located between the two villages.This is the third year the Church of Christ Student Center will travel to this area in Mexico, and Pritchard said the local people really appreciate the efforts of the students.”They are always very excited to see us and are generally very receptive to the message we bring,” he said.Pritchard said the most exciting part of mission trips for him is getting to see students having their “eyes opened” after experiencing a different culture and the living conditions of the area people.”Many of the students have never been out of the United States, and after being in a different country and culture they realize how materialistic our country is,” he said. “It makes them thankful for what they have and hopefully helps them to be less materialistic themselves.”Students from Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship will also be heading south of the border for their Spring Break mission trips, but their evangelism efforts will be focused in and around Mexico City.Chi Alpha will be sending 43 students to Mexico City, where they will be split into four different teams before beginning their activities. Chi Alpha intern Will Robinson said three of the teams will participate in a “cultural exchange” program at four different universities in Mexico City, while the fourth team will travel to Chi Alpha chapters in areas around the city to support local leaders and participate in chapter building activities.Robinson said the support and service means offered by SHSU Chi Alpha means a lot to the leaders in the Mexico City area. “They are in charge while we are down there,” Robinson said. “We just try to serve them and help them in any way we can.”The three student teams participating in the cultural exchange program will be giving presentations about life in Huntsville and the United States to students at the various universities in Mexico City. The local students will also present information about life in Mexico City and at their universities to the members from Chi Alpha.Along with the cultural exchange, the teams will also set up information areas with music and different presentations throughout the week. Two open-mic “Coffee House Nights” will also be held, which will include musical performances, poetry readings and other types of outreach.Robinson, who has been on other mission trips in the past, said he enjoys spring break mission trips and views them as following the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations.”God is not just a God of Americahe has called us to serve the world,” Robinson said. “In these trips we are serving others and trying to share with them the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.”Robinson said students participating in the trip have attended preparatory meetings and prayed together about the trip and the work that will be done.”Heading into the trip, we feel like we are all unified and on the same page,” he said.When asked to sum up the spring break mission trip experience, Robinson explained with the following.”It shows service to others, it’s very humbling, and it’s definitely not boring,” he said.The Baptist Student Ministry will address the needs of those in the United States during its spring break mission trips by sending groups of students to Boston, Mass. and Arlington, Texas. Interim director Sarah Altes will lead the Arlington trip, while student intern Brown Nevels will head up the trip to Bean Town.According to Nevels, the Arlington group will focus on ministering to younger children with VBS activities and other outings, while the Boston group will reach out to college students and adults.The Boston group, which is made up of 16 students and two adult leaders, will travel to different universities in Boston and conduct “serving evangelism.” The group plans to hand out coffee and Pop-Tarts to students in between classes and also provide other services throughout the week, Nevels said.The group will also tutor area junior high students during their trip and will conduct evening worship services as well.”This trip is all about loving other people, being used by God and sharing the love of Christ,” he said.Both groups have been meeting since the beginning of the semester to prepare for the trip, and Nevels said the Boston group has also been told about the culture of the area and the different things they may encounter.Nevels said he is mostly prepared for the trip, but still has to make some additions to his clothing wardrobe before heading up North.”I live in TexasI don’t have a lot of warm clothes,” he said.Whether traveling north or south, all these spring break student missionaries will no doubt feel the warmth from the people they help and the lives they touch.

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