FROM MARCH 2-12, STUDENTS TRAVELED TO NICARAGUA, SWEDEN AND ARIZONA ON MISSION TRIPS THROUGH CO:MISSION.
The organization, formerly known as “Ninedays,” provides students from any major to participate in missions work over spring break locally, nationally and internationally.
By Crystal Goutierez & Erica Hillard
The Nicaragua team traveled through 10 different cities within 10 days, ministering to the needs of each community, including Managua, Nueva Guinea, Rama, and other villages. During their time, the team partnered with North Central alumni missionaries Ken and Kendra Doutt, who have ministry programs all over Nicaragua. These programs help feed over 5,000 children every week and provide practical aid as well.
Senior elementary education major and Co:Mission director Kate Pilman shares the team’s experience in Nicaragua.
“We did over 20 children and adult services, and as a team fellowshipped and prayed in over 100 homes. We gave out backpacks with school supplies, [and] helped aid in a few of the food programs,” said Pilman.
Pilman shares the goals of her team’s work.
“Our goal was to serve. We had no agenda. Many people find it easy to think that they know what they need to do to meet the needs of the people in a place where they have never been. We helped in aiding the missionaries by doing whatever they needed to bless what the Lord has done, to be the extra hands and feet they need,” said Pilman.
Before outreach comes preparation
With 10 days of nonstop serving and volunteering, there must be a time of preparation both practically and spiritually beforehand. Pilman explained how her team prepared for their work in Nicaragua.
“I prayed. I prayed for our team, the missionaries, the country, the people, and that the Lord would guide us as we go to this foreign land… We also had to prepare a drama and a song to share while we were there,” said Pilman.
This preparation allowed their team to become more united and stronger as they worked in each city. Pilman explained the dynamics of her team.
“I saw a lot of spiritual growth in my team members. This trip was a reminder of how God’s love is always constant to all people. Our lives should be lived as a vessel for the kingdom, dead to our self. In my team, I saw ‘American social norms’ being broken. We were pushed physically and spiritually,” said Pilman.
Looking back on the trip, Pilman described some of the most memorable moments of the trip.
“Some fun moments were when junior elementary education major Mickal Sayler and I killed a chicken, standing in a cattle truck for an hour with 20 plus people, experiencing the pouring rain in a canoe down the river, zip lining, visiting an active volcano, and running through the market for six dozen backpacks and school supplies,” said Pilman.
Overall, the Nicaragua team experienced a time of service, sacrifice, and outpouring of God’s love as they made efforts to meet the needs of each people group.
Another group of students traveled to Sweden, visiting a number of cities including Linköping, Stockholm, and Uppsala, where they focused on reaching out to fellow college-aged students. The team partnered with two North Central alumni, Phil and Katja Zarns, who are missionaries to Sweden.
Knowing that the people in Sweden typically look down upon Christianity, co-leader and junior media communications major Alyssa Wallace said, “We were all pretty nervous before we went, that we weren’t really going to have anything to do, but that of course is underestimating the power of God, because of course he showed up.”
Wallace continued, “The culture of Sweden is very cold and independent. Sweden is three percent Christian – meaning following Christ, and Stockholm is one percent Christian. This mission trip was much different than a typical mission trip. It was completely relationship- based.”
Relationship = Outreach
The team’s first outreach project was to help a young adult group host an event in the city of Linköping and hand out flyers to many young people in order to draw greater attention to the event.
“This was the first time they were putting on this event, so it was God’s impeccable timing that we were there to help,” said Wallace.
The next outreach project was to simply build relationships within the community, where they offered free cinnamon rolls and coffee for the students and invited them to an event that was hosted the following night.
Wallace described the outreach opportunity and said, “It was amazing to be a vessel of the Lord as he would point specific people out that we would approach. It really showed the love and care he has for every person and how he knows exactly how they should be approached in love and trust.”
When God shows up
On the day of the advertised event, the Sweden team had anticipated around 50 college students. Much to the team’s surprise, 250 college students showed up, providing a massive opportunity for the team to minister.
With the remainder of its time in Sweden, the team supported local churches, small groups, and other campus organizations. Through these opportunities the team was able to meet and pray with students and young adults. The group was also able to do a prayer walk around the university.
“God used us to encourage and lift up the incredible work of the Christian groups already moving in Sweden, which in turn was an encouragement to us because we met some of the most on-fire people, we decided, that we have ever met,” said Wallace.
Overall, there were many relationships built between the students of North Central and the students in Sweden. Some team members have connected with those they met in Sweden on Facebook and continue to keep in contact and speak into those students’ lives.
“A lot of us have been inspired to love the college students and young adults in the Twin Cities area in a more Christ-like way,” said Wallace.
Through Co:Mission, a student-led missions organization, six North Central students participated in a mission trip to Arizona. The leaders of this trip were senior youth ministries major Courtney Muller and senior pastoral studies major Caleb Krause. During their time in Arizona, the team paired with an organization called Native American Outreach Ministries, Inc. (NAOMI). Together they shared the story of Christ to children who were victims of abuse and neglect.
The NAOMI House is located in Jack Rabbit, Ariz. The team spent four days alongside the children. When the kids were off at school, the team went to work by cleaning and organizing the large amounts of donations the organization received.
Here am I?
“God really confirmed the fact that I [and we all] need to take ownership of missions wherever, however, and to whomever that may be. All he asks is if we are willing to go,” said Krause, who strongly encourages others to partner up with Co:Mission for a spring break trip at least once.
Not only did the team work with the children at the NAOMI House, but they also went on an adventure into the Grand Canyon. Although the weather seemed to work against their plans, they made the most out of it.
“Do it [Co:Mission]! The experience will change your life and absolutely wreck your heart. It sounds scary to be that vulnerable with God, but the reward is worth more than we can comprehend,” said Krause.
The prayer team is a dedicated group that has a heart to serve in a different way. They didn’t travel anywhere for Co:Mission, but rather stayed on the North Central campus.
Around eight volunteers pledged to show up every day and pray for at least an hour for the various trips. These volunteers prayed and interceded in the Upper Room, which is located on the third floor of Liechty Hall.
Other students were encouraged to join in and pray, which many did. While the mission trips to Nicaragua, Sweden and Arizona took place, the prayer team members were in constant prayer for each and every one of the team members.
Seeking his face
”Ironically enough, we prepared for this prayer team by seasoning it with prayer,” said junior intercultural studies major Tyrone Waldon. “My co-leader [senior elementary education major] Hannah Veer diligently read through ‘Intercessory Prayer’ and gave us some food-for-thought every now and then.”
“I focused most of my prayers on the Sweden team, praying that the Lord would do miracles through the team, as well as in the team,” said Waldon. “I am very glad that God was with them and preparing the way.”
The students believed that God worked in the lives of the prayer team members and spoke to them in profound ways. They gave up their spring break to pray and seek God on behalf of those who were on mission trips.