GO can be a life-changer

GO+can+be+a+life-changer

Bethany Reeves, Editor in Chief

Team India served in the slums of Delhi/Photo provided by Justin Lay

It didn’t take long for the empty classroom to fill up that Thursday night. As dozens of students found their seats, they introduced themselves each other. Some talked excitedly, while others hung back, shy at first. The anticipation was tangible. These students they met—some for the first time—weren’t just new classmates or acquaintances. This first GO (Global Outreach) class was just the beginning of a semester-long training program that will take them to the far reaches of the earth.

Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, away in Bangladesh that night, still opened the class with a recorded video. In an earnest tone, she described the challenges they face up ahead: the constant team environment, an unfamiliar, cross-cultural context, and the intense spiritual pressure that accompanies a trip like theirs.

“The goal of this trip,” she said, “is to make you more like Jesus at the end of your experience than you are sitting in these chairs today.”

In the summer of 2018, the Master’s University will send nine GO teams to five different continents. The teams are headed to Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Guam, India, Malawi, Madagascar, Togo, and South Africa. The trips last between six and eight weeks long, and they offer experience for students of all different majors.

The class continued with an exhortation from Dr. Joe Keller, Dean of Student Care, as he challenged an incorrect, yet common, notion of missions. He explained that missions is not what you do; it’s who you are. It’s not about bringing your gifts and contributions to others, but rather how you participate in the Lord’s work.

“It’s not about getting on a plane, going across the world, to hand a tract to someone,” he said. “It’s an expression of our salvation.”

The students split up into their various teams and spent the rest of the night talking, sharing stories of past trips, and asking questions. After learning about the trips in early November, making the decision to pursue it, and compiling an application, this was the night when it was finally becoming real.

Veterans of the GO teams will tell you that they are both intense and life-changing. Justin Lay, a senior Communications major, was a member of Team India last summer. This year, he is a leader on Team Malawi.

“One thing [about last year] that surprised me was that there were familiar aspects to India,” Lay said, comparing it to the city he grew up in. “It was dirty, bustling, crowded with people. But there was a whole set of rules that were different in India that weren’t written down.”

Being a part of a second trip, going to a different country, brings a whole new layer of anticipation.

“It’s scary to be a GO leader, to be responsible for the lives of six other people in a foreign country,” Lay said. “You’re responsible for the team’s communication, for their schedules, transportation, and passports. On the other hand, it’s good, because it’ll help me rely on the Lord.”

Carissa Arend, also a senior, led Team India last summer.

“My faith in God’s faithfulness was strengthened by seeing how the Lord brought the team together last year,” she said, “so I have great expectations for this year.”

Arend shared about spontaneous situations they were sometimes thrown into, including times they would have to perform improv skits on the spot, making stuff up in front of an audience of eighty or more. The public transportation was could be hazardous, and even crossing the street was a challenge. The team was forced to watch out for each other–something that brought them closer together.

In light of everything she faced last year, I asked her why she decided to apply again. She responded without hesitation.

“My experience last year was the most paradigm-shifting one of my life, so I had to do it again.”

Team India 2017: Pictured from left, top row: Justin Lay, Emma Hurley, Paul Patingo, and Joshua Collins. Bottom row: Abby Baker, Julia Ingoldsby, Carissa Arend, Professor Kellie Cunningham, Ellie Kindlund, and Allie Jacobs./Photo