This summer, Corban sent out four Summer of Service (SOS) mission teams around the world. Students and faculty went out to Colombia, China, the Czech Republic and Turkey for two and a half weeks. While the participants had different reasons to go, God was clearly working on each trip.
Abigail Barnett of the China team wanted to go on one of the SOS trips since the beginning of her sophomore year. Since hearing about the opportunity during World Outreach Week her freshman year, Barnett thought of the opportunity often.
“I’ve always had missions on the brain; I just didn’t know if I could actually do it,” Barnett said. “I was praying about it at the beginning of sophomore year. I was saying, ‘If you want me to do this, God, please open some doors.’ And He did.”
Through the lengthy process of paperwork and tasks, she said “there were never really any obstacles.”
Jacob Fuqua committed to the Colombia trip after seeing a connection between it and himself.
“I chose Colombia because I already knew the language,” Fuqua said. “I felt it was the one most geared towards me. Plus, I was able to work with children and that’s kind of what I like to do.”
Dr. Annette Harrison joined as a veteran member, marking her third year on the Czech Republic team.
“God chose it for me,” said Harrison.
“A few years ago, there was going to be a student leading the trip, but then that didn’t work out,” she said.
While these trips are for the people being served, they often leave some sort of mark on those serving.
“I definitely came away from the trip with my perspective on people and how God works very broadened,” Barnett said.
Before going to Colombia, Fuqua encountered people who were concerned for his safety in the country.
“Being there, it was the total opposite of what you envision,” he said.
He was greatly impacted by the reality of the country, having beautiful countryside and kind people. Having an opportunity to see how a different country does schooling and to experience teaching in such a different environment was a powerful experience for him, Fuqua said.
Harrison could see the growth in the Czech Republic trip over the past few years and noticed the spread of their influence.
On one night, the team attended a youth group.
“[The youth group] was a result of what we have been doing,” Harrison said.
“That wasn’t there a few years ago.”
Through the contrast of previous years, it was clear to her that the local church was getting more onboard with the group’s goal.
“They are starting to come around to using English as a way to find common ground and involved the Corban team in the process while they were there,” she said.
People on the trips saw God working in both large and small ways.
Prior to her trip, Barnett began memorizing Psalm 103, figuring it would be helpful in evangelizing.
“It never came up in that way,” she said.
The first time they attended a house church, the pastor directed the congregation to Psalm 103.
“I was just sitting there like, ‘Oh wow! I have a connection with a Chinese pastor across the world!’” Barnett said.
After talking to her host family, she found out it was actually the pastor’s favorite passage.
“[It showed] God is present everywhere,” she said.
Fuqua was able to see God working through his team.
“We were able to show them that people in the United States care,” Fuqua said.
“When we went to cities with flooding, it was showing God’s love through giving,” he said. “We put our money together and made baskets, bought stuff, and took them to people who had lost their entire homes.”
Harrison’s interactions with locals demonstrated God’s work through people.
At one point, a teacher wanted Harrison and a woman from the church to come see her dance group.
“While we were watching, we began talking about illnesses,” Harrison said.
The woman had been living with the illness they were discussing, and she began sharing the Gospel to the teacher through her own story.
“It was a different experience, being able to see the shared connection between a Christian and non-Christian Czech,” she said.
Later, the teacher came to an event held at the church. Harrison hopes she returns.
“There is some hope for her life,” she said.