It was a three-month road trip of sorts through numerous cities and villages across southern Africa. Each day the travelers met with local residents and prayed for them. At night, they often slept in tents.
In all, they logged an estimated 1,500 miles of travel across six countries.
|PBA student Mary Roberts interacts with schoolchildren in Malawi during this summer's Africa Trek.|
But the journey is far from over – spiritually at least – for five Palm Beach Atlantic University students, who returned recently from the expedition known as the Africa Trek.
“It changed me so much,” said Rachel Ickes, an elementary education major. “It was such an amazing experience.”
The students were part of a larger group of international travelers on the trip, which is organized by Operation Mobilization, a Christian organization. This is the second year in which PBA students have participated in the Africa Trek through PBA’s Campus Ministries.
The trip began in early May in South Africa and eventually took the team to Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. At the end of the trip, the students served as volunteers at the Love Africa conference in Zambia.
Along the way, they visited homes and schools, helped to organize assemblies and participated in service projects.
PBA team co-leader Daniel Heeney, who entered PBA’s Master of Divinity program this fall, recalled meeting a group of young men in South Africa. The men, who were eager to learn more about Christ, didn’t want Heeney and his team to leave, he said.
“Knowing that I couldn’t stay … it broke me,” he said. “These guys were just desiring spiritual food. They wanted to be clean before God.”
|PBA student Aaron Nosbisch plays a game with schoolchildren in Swaziland.|
Marketing major Aaron Nosbisch said he forged similar bonds with young men in Zimbabwe, and there were other memorable interactions as well.
Another PBA participant remembers being moved to tears as she went on house visits in Swaziland.
At one home, a mentally disabled child was being cared for by an elderly man, she recalled. At another home, four girls, the oldest of whom was 15, were living alone because their mother had died of AIDS.
“That was the first thing that really broke my heart” on the trip, the student said.
For cross-cultural studies major Mary Roberts, the Africa Trek was her third PBA mission trip in 14 months. She said she would continue sharing Christ’s love with those she meets as she transitions back to her life in the United States.
Looking back on the Africa Trek, “it wasn’t about the places or the people,” she said, “but about the encounters with God.”