Every summer, the Office of Mobilization at California Baptist University sends teams across the country and around the world to serve. Some teams are sent as close as Maryland and Virginia, while others as far as Spain and Thailand.
International Service Project and United States Project are a commitment of time and money, but students involved spend time training for their team’s specific tasks such as community develpment, teaching English, or deaf outreach.
Students and faculty who are accepted into ISP or USP discover which team they have been placed on by attending Team Reveal in December. At the Team Reveal, students are split into groups to be told onto which team they are placed and meet their team leaders and other team members for the first time.
In the months prior to departures, teams meet once a week for worship, fellowship and training. This is a developmental time for each person on the team, in community and individually.
Emily Armstrong, junior exercise science major and first-time service project participant, was originally placed on the South Asia Deaf Ministry team. However, a few months before leaving she suffered an elbow and ankle injury. Armstrong had to decide whether or not she would even be able to travel.
“It was definitely not an easy decision,” Armstrong said. “I had no real idea of the timing of the healing process. Through many hard discussions with the Lord and with family, I knew I was still called to go on a (service project).”
Although traveling internationally was not a healthy option due to her injury, MOB presented her with the possibility of a USP to Baltimore instead.
“I knew it was where God wanted me,” said Armstrong. “I trusted God and I was completely healed when my time came to leave.”
Although she was set on going overseas, Armstrong’s heart was opened to a new revelation.
“(Baltimore) really opened my eyes up to the need for the gospel in America,” she said. “I think too many times we overlook our own country.”
Participants have their reasons for why they join the service projects. The majority, though, have one thing in common: to fulfill Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
Two-time ISP participant Zachary Peters, senior nursing major, said he challenged himself by accepting the student-leader position. One challenging aspect of leadership was Intensive Training Weekend, where teams are put in heightened simulations to prepare them for unexpected situations overseas.
“ITW was definitely a task,” Peters said. “That weekend taught me I tend to take too much on myself. Knowing this, I tried to make sure I didn’t fall into this habit on the field.”
While sharing and teaching others, Peters said he grew in his walk with the Lord.
“I was taught the importance of faith,” Peters said. “Faith in what we cannot see. Just because I am unable to visibly see the effect we are having does not mean God is not using us.”
Each student and leader has the opportunity to take something different from their cross-cultural experience, whether it was something newly learned or
Peters and Armstrong both encourage others to prayerfully consider being a part of a service project.
“Don’t get caught up in the challenges that come with it, because it is definitely a challenging experience,” Peters said. “But that’s what makes it so rewarding.”
Armstrong said she wants to encourage students to trust God is in control.
“No matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, God is going to use you if you allow him to,” Armstrong said. “It may be hard at first, but you have to realize that ultimately God is in control and he knows what he’s doing.”