As PBA students invested a week serving others, they learned lessons of spontaneity, humility, unity and the power of being present.
Brandon Martin’s experience visiting with people from the Navajo Nation taught him that he can accomplish just as much by sitting, laughing and crying with people in the United States as he can by traveling outside the country. “It was more of a relational trip,” said the Millstone, New Jersey, native.
The trip also taught him how spontaneous God is, he said, noting that at times, projects looked different than anticipated.
“You can plan whatever you want, but God might have something opposite,” Martin said.
This summer, the PBA outreach CM Global sent 21 students on 2 trips around the world. Already, PBA students and faculty have visited Indigenous people from the Navajo Nation in Arizona and served alongside a family in Costa Rica, returning with stories of how they saw God at work in their own lives and the lives of those they served.
Additionally, the Gregory Center for Medical Missions will send Dr. Jocelyn Freimuth Strum, a 2017 alumna, and a group of students to the Dominican Republic with Global Health Outreach as part of an interdisciplinary team.
Martin, like many students, found out where he was headed only a few weeks before departure, due to ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. The rising junior co-led the Arizona trip.
“I went into it with a little bit of fear but knowing that God wants me in this position, so I’m going to do the best I can,” said Martin, who is studying international business.
The PBA students served alongside a pastor who recently moved to a church in Arizona and who has been working among the Navajo people for decades. The group landscaped the church, removed weeds from the property and listened to the Navajo people who came and shared about some of the difficulties they face living on the reservation.
Tina Kadolph, who founded the anti-human trafficking organization Love Missions with her husband, Carl, helped prepare the students. Tina Kadolph has worked among the Navajo Nation for more than 20 years and has spoken on PBA’s campus numerous times. She connected the PBA group to Garland, a Navajo teenager who was caring for his grandmother. Wherever they went, Garland went with them, and by the end of the week, they became fast friends. It gave Garland an opportunity to feel like a teenager.
In the beach town of Jacó, Costa Rica, students partnered with IsleGO Missions to serve with the church Iglesia Radical. Half of the group helped a church member to pour the concrete floor and shore up the roof on the house she was building. The other half of the team helped the church put on a kids club.
Despite the split roles, the team was blessed with a supernatural unity, said co-leader Jack Vreman, a junior from Bradenton, Florida. It was an answer to their prayers from Ephesians 4:3, which calls on Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
“The whole team was unified in spirit, for sure,” Vreman said. “It was really cool to see how when we humble ourselves, God uses everyone. Everything works so much better.”
Personally, Vreman was struck by a question IsleGO Missions co-founder Dusty Cooper posed to the students in one of his nightly talks: “What is the line where God asks too much of you?” The question resonated with Vreman, a nursing student who is discerning whether he is called to medical missions.
Anishka Nathaniel, a rising sophomore from Austin, Texas, studying elementary education, enjoyed playing with the children, doing crafts and teaching Bible stories as part of the kids club.
“It was amazing to see how excited they were for the littlest things we did with them,” Nathaniel said.
If the timing works out, Nathaniel hopes to do her student teaching at a school that the church intends to build.
Like the Arizona group, the Costa Rica team was impressed by how quickly they forged relationships — in their case, in spite of the language barrier.
“It was hard to say goodbye because we were such really good friends and family in Christ,” Vreman said. “Only the Holy Spirit can build those relationships in such a short amount of time.”