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Home / News and Information / News - March 2005 / BPC students spend spring breaks on mission fields

BPC students spend spring breaks on mission fields

Six Brewton-Parker College students, under the direction of Dr. Hal Ostrander, chair of Brewton-Parker's Division of Religion and Philosophy, spend their spring break week in early March working with students in Minsk, Belarus.
Six Brewton-Parker College students, under the direction of Dr. Hal Ostrander, chair of Brewton-Parker's Division of Religion and Philosophy, spend their spring break week in early March working with students in Minsk, Belarus. Participating Brewton-Parker students were: Kara Mixon, Allen Rea, K.C. Seabury, Joey Thomazin, Scott Welborn and Lori Wilson. (Photo by Hal Ostrander)

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

Many college students use their spring breaks to travel to places like sunny Florida, or perhaps for hiking in the mountains or maybe even for a quick European jaunt.

Three groups of Brewton-Parker College students spent their spring breaks in such areas, not on vacations but rather in ministerial opportunities.

The largest group, of 26 students, traveled to the southwest Florida community of Fort Ogden to participate in the college's second venture of hurricane disaster relief from the 2004 storms under the auspices of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Another group of nine students and two leaders, led by campus minister Glenn Wallace, ventured south to the mountainous region of Nicaragua for a week's time of gospel sharing.

Dr. Hal Ostrander, chair of Brewton-Parker's Division of Religion and Philosophy, led a group of six students to the former Soviet republic of Belarus where they worked side-by-side with Belarusian students.

That trip was arranged through Bob Hartman International Ministries and organized at Brewton-Parker through Ostrander's Apologetics Practicum course.

While teaching Christian apologetics was the mission group's primary thrust, witnessing with apologetics in mind had to be done under restricted circumstances, in this case under the auspices of an English as a Second Language course in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.

The Brewton-Parker team members spent their mornings in chapel services and classes with the host students, and then were on prayer walks during their afternoon hours before their ESL classes during the evenings.

Allen Rea, a Brewton-Parker sophomore from Hazlehurst, said the ESL students were very interested to learn about their American guests, and thus the doors of opportunity to share their Christian faith were opened. "I think God was able to plant and water some seeds," he added.

"They led the discussion to the theological questions," added Scott Welborn, a senior from Elko. "The first night was just about all theological in nature."

"That was probably the most effective way to minister because they are a very stoic people," said Joey Tomazin, a sophomore from Rincon. "We also helped to affirm the Belarusian students that their faith is the same as ours, that their faith is being proclaimed all over the world."

Lori Wilson, a senior from Waynesville, said a subway trip in Minsk enlightened her to the much-needed embrace of God's love that the Belarusian people need.

"We were laughing and cracking up, and I was looking at people's faces and just seeing how they had no joy," Wilson said. "God is the one who gives us hope and joy, and the people of Belarus need to find that hope and that joy."

Ostrander said he hopes to make the Belarus trip an annual event. "I think we instilled a real love for that part of the world on these students," he added.

The Nicaragua trip was born out of a visit to Brewton-Park in February 2004 by Loren Dickey, the regional coordinator for Operation GO (Gospel Outreach) ministry in the Central American nation.

A team of Brewton-Parker College students and sponsors who participated on a mission trip over spring break the week of March 5-12 in Nicaragua gather near a volcano just outside the city of Masaya.
A team of Brewton-Parker College students and sponsors who participated on a mission trip over spring break the week of March 5-12 in Nicaragua gather near a volcano just outside the city of Masaya. Pictured are: (seated in back, from left) BPC Campus Minister Glenn Wallace, Chris Elkins, Charles Conkin, Julian Bedoya, "Bing" Bower, (seated in front) Jonathan Lewis, Stephen Sweezey, Chris Rainey, Andrea Gaston, Erin Bower and (standing) Jared Middleton. (Photo courtesy Glenn Wallace)

"He sparked our interest and so we enlisted the students to go," said Wallace, who also took a student's parent on the trip.

The delegation established a base camp in the city of Murra in the northern mountainous region of Nicaragua, and the team members hiked from there daily to find smaller villages in remote areas.

On their first day, team members performed prayer walks through the villages, then during each of the following three days they distributed booklets with the Gospel of Luke to villagers. During the evenings, the American guests showed the "Jesus" film to their hosts.

"It was a physically hard trip but spiritually refreshing," said Wallace, who said he calculated that the team totaled about 250 hiked miles and about 6 miles per day per person through the mountains.

"The immediate results will be in our students' lives. The long-term results will come down there. We hold to the Scripture that the return is not void. The International Mission Board is now geared toward emphasizing the nationals to advance the work. Our presence sparked an excitement; they referred to us as 'our special guests' a lot."

The Florida trip followed one in December on which Wallace took 20 Brewton-Parker students over Christmas break. "Everybody was so excited and wanted to go back, and then others wanted to go," said Michael Brown, a Brewton-Parker junior from Guyton, who led the second delegation.

The second group worked with a construction crew from Illinois and a couple from Kentucky in clearing fallen trees from orchards and yards that remained from Hurricane Charley in August. "We just did what college students could do," Brown said.

Brown said the group attempted to empty one home, which had become molded after the hurricane, so it could be leveled, but storms during their week prevented them from completing the task. "It is amazing how much labor they still need," Brown added.

Brown said the trip's highlight was having one student accept Christ and then having his baptism at First Baptist Church in Fort Ogden, where the Brewton-Parker delegation stayed.

"I think missions is more in-reaching than outreaching," Brown said. "God really broke people's hearts that week."

Dr. David R. Smith, Brewton-Parker's president, says that the college focuses on the missions outreach of Georgia Baptists in very specific ways.

"First, our campus is a mission field with students from most U.S. states and 20 other nations," Smith said. "Secondly, our students, faculty and staff travel around the world on mission for Christ, as these spring break excursions underscore.

"Cooperative Program gifts receive double value when invested in Christian higher education. They train tomorrow's congregational and denominational leaders, and they expand God's Kingdom through missions and evangelism activities."

Brewton-Parker's focus on missions continues this summer, with 14 students already committed to serving in summer missions projects through the Baptist Student Union. Among their destinations stateside are California and Massachusetts, and internationally are Canada, Moldova and Mozambique.

-BPC-

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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
 
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Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM