Palm Beach Atlantic University student leader Alissa Cutforth says she witnessed miracles during her recent spring break mission trip to Rio de Janiero.
|PBA student Alissa Cutforth with children in Rio.|
Cutforth, a sophomore psychology major and member of the University’s Mission Planning Team, was part of a 13-member group that traveled to Brazil to work with New Hope International Ministries, an organization founded by PBA alumnus Edson Souza (’91/’92 MBA) to serve and minister to impoverished children and families in Rio’s slums.
As the PBA students interacted with the local children, Cutforth noticed a change as the week progressed. "At the beginning of the week the boys were sitting in the corner, and a lot of the kids were shy and afraid to talk to you," she said.
"By the end of the week the older kids were giving the little kids piggyback rides, and the house became a safe haven for all the kids to get out of their oppressive home life. There are so many things that these 8- and 14-year-olds have been through that they should not have to know how to deal with, yet we were able to provide a safe place for them to come and find joy again," she said.
Freshman Josh Gradwohl, a pre-nursing major who also went on the Rio trip, said many of the children in the area lacked male role models. "Being able to be a father figure or an older brother to these children was a rewarding experience," he said.
Bolivia team members dig a hole for a compost pile at an orphanage.
Senior Ethan Palmquist was part of a five-member team that went on a domestic mission trip to downtown Miami, where the students worked with Campus Crusade at the University of Miami and Christ Fellowship Downtown.
In addition to helping with some of Christ Fellowship’s ministries, such as a homeless care center, the team used photos and other evangelism tools to talk to students on the University of Miami’s campus about Christ.
For Palmquist, one of the highlights was being able to have an honest, open conversation about faith and worldview with an atheist.
"He was very straightforward with us, which allowed the Spirit to work within him," said Palmquist, a cross-cultural studies major who previously went on two PBA mission trips. "He still continues to be an atheist, but because of our conversation, he is genuinely seeking truth and putting his own beliefs into question."
|The Dominican Republic mission team and local children.|
"They don’t have running water. They don’t have food. And they’re still praising God," said Grant, a freshman theatre arts major who had been on mission trips to Jamaica previously. "I’ve never seen people so on fire for God."
By the time the trip was over, she said she felt that she was leaving there to go on a mission trip to the United States, she said.
"We have such a mission field here," she said.