How to Prepare for GO Trips 2020

Alaska and Canada in North America. Honduras and Costa Rica in Central America. Albania and Ukraine in Europe. Madagascar and Togo in Africa. In summer 2020, these eight teams will GO around the world to minister to people, some of whom, says Esther Kuiper, a senior studying teacher education, don’t even know they need Jesus. 

“I went on the GO trip to London – London, England – and that was last summer, so summer 2019,” said Kuiper. “It’s like America in the sense that as a first world country you have everything you need pretty much, so you don’t think you need Jesus.”

And applications are still open.

Josh English, Director of Global Outreach, said priority goes to applicants who submitted before the priority deadline of Dec. 4, as well as seniors who may not have the opportunity again and students with skill sets that are particularly suited to specific missions. Applications also ask for students’ top three preferences, which are then considered when assigning students to teams.

Some important things to remember are to submit references (parent, pastor, and RA) and not to panic about not yet having a passport — it doesn’t affect the application. In fact, students can start the passport process on Christmas break.

Preparations for GO start months in advance. Team leaders are already meeting once a month, and they will meet every week before GO classes in the spring, while serving as the contact points for partnering missionaries. GO classes are mandatory for all team members and will be held on Thursday nights from 6:30-9:30. GO class is a 3-credit course that can apply to student majors on an advisor basis, unless students opt to take the course for no credit due to maxing out on tuition.

English described some of the projects assigned in GO class — sending out support and prayer request letters, getting passports, reading books like When Helping Hurts or Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper, a group project on the team’s missionary destination, preparing students’ hearts for service, and understanding biblical mission and culture.

Kuiper, who went on a GO retreat preparing teams for the rigors of missions, says, “I do appreciate that we had the GO retreat to just be together as a team.” Still, she says, “nothing can prepare you as much as actually just going.”

“Like in London, it’s like there’s nothing keeping us from serving except our own bodies at that point and being tired … You can’t get that three weeks of hard work on a retreat, and then see (sic) how you have to push through that last week.”

“Be prayerful,” says English. “I think the temptation is to view it as an experience for me. You may not know that is your chief desire until you’re actually there on the ground. Like ‘This is hard.’ ‘I don’t know these people.’ ‘I can’t speak the language.’ ‘I want to go home.’ I felt that when I was on my trips in different ways, but when you go in with the mentality that I’m gonna go in to serve the missionaries, it doesn’t matter what I face or how hard it is. I’m not gonna just try to live for comfort. And the missionaries, they view it that way as well.”

Kuiper was able to reap the rewards of likesame heart preparation. “We worked with the Davis family and they are the most humble, sweetest people in the world but so down to earth and full of life,” she says.

In reference to kid camps they helped with, Kuiper says, “We continue to hear updates about what’s going on in those kids’ lives and whether or not they’re connecting with the churches.”

She recounts being able to communicate with a Portuguese woman who had not been to church for a couple weeks.

“We started writing words down together and we’d be like, ‘Oh, this word means this.’ We’d use our Spanish, and then I’d be able to write this English word in her Portuguese word. Then, we’d start to know what each other were saying … Hopefully encouraging her that I was willing to take the time to communicate with her and wanted her to stay at the church to connect with the people there.”

Overall, she says, “It really taught me how powerful the gospel is because it is enough to change a person’s life. I don’t need to give them food or clothing. But it is really hard to stand there and be like, they don’t believe what I’m saying, and they think I’m stupid. We left London stressing that there would be fruit there even if we couldn’t see it.”