Putting together a Global Outreach Team is a long process involving dozens of students and 20-30 different locations. At the end of every spring semester at The Master’s College, King Hall is frequented by students putting together final pieces for their trips ahead. Yet there is more beneath the surface of fundraisers and the jokes dropped in chapel.
About 25-30 locations contact Dr. Lisa LaGeorge, Director of Global Outreach, each year requesting teams. TMC is able to send teams to about 10 of those destinations. This year one of them is London, England. GO Leader Lindsey Mullin, a senior at TMC, says her initial reaction to London was a surprise. She thought it couldn’t be a missions trip because they wouldn’t be living in huts and it is already an English speaking population.
“I didn’t even know London was an option,” she said.
Matt and Kimberly Davis, alumni of TMC, were described by Mullin as a missionary couple who have a heart for London and its people. Striving to use their gifts to further the gospel there, the Davis’s have been working with the London City Mission, affiliated with around 100 organizations, one of which is a coffee house, run by believers seeking to engage the Muslim community.
“The goal of our mission is to establish better relationships between London City Mission and the actual people in East London,” Mullin said. “Establishing connections with the actual people and the families is a lot harder.”
Barboza, along with his seven teammates, will be holding after-school programs in the park next to the coffee house teaching young children how to play soccer. They will also host theater and arts camps. In addition, the team plans to play soccer pick-up games with Muslim men who frequent the park.
“I am excited for their opportunity to participate in some drama activities.” LaGeorge said. “They will be able to really see how that would work out in a ministry context.”
Alex Barboza, a junior, sees the strategic possibilities of where they are going to serve East London, he says, “Is somewhere in the 90th percentile of Muslim population.”
When the team began learning about their trip and the population, they were given helpful tools for evangelizing. According to Barboza, John Azar, head of the Arabic community at Grace Community Church, spoke about the culture.
“He was telling us different things about Muslims and Allah. The one name Allah isn’t, is love.” Barboza said. “And that will be a great tool to reach out to them, showing them that our God is love. They don’t really understand what they read. They just read it and believe it.
La George has worked with almost 135 teams, 85 of which have been under her leadership. Working with so many teams of students has given LaGeorge the opportunity to observe lives change as they see the work of God through their stories.
“A lot of times students underestimate the work of God in their lives. They can’t see how God can use their story.” LaGeorge said, “It’s the word that’s the power and the Spirit that works through the Word. It’s not your story that is the powerful thing.”
To LaGeorge, seeing students come to this realization is why she sits in her office everyday.
GO Team leader applicants go through an interview process, once they are accepted, LaGeorge determines their strengths taking into account their majors and their specific skill sets. Then, with the information she builds, she pairs them with a student who “has not similar but complementary vocational training.”
In regards to the team itself, LaGeorge stresses that teams are put together with consideration of who will work well together and as young people “who have a heartbeat for the vocation and a heartbeat for the location.”
Gender poses a problem for LaGeorge at times, there are not many young men who apply for GO trips, “I want to make sure we have about two guys, my preference is three guys to go with every trip.” LaGeorge said. “But it is much easier to spread out the young women”
LaGeorge recalls a team a while back that worked with refugees from the flesh trade in Thailand,
“We had 8 spots, and 17 woman who applied for 4 of those spots,” she said.
LaGeorge, Barboza and Mullin are aware of some specific challenges they may face on their trip. Issues stretching anywhere from getting caught up in the tourist mentality of London, to dealing with the quirks and habits of each individual. Sarcasm is something Barboza sees as a possible challenge.
“I think sarcasm will be our biggest thing” Barboza said. “We know when to be serious, but we are a really sarcastic group so hopefully that doesn’t affect us.”
Mullin believes the group gets along well. She says it is encouraging to see how the group takes certain situations, whether funny or serious.
“Seeing that willingness and the cohesiveness has made being a leader so much easier,” Mullin said.
GO teams have a large financial need they must address. Each team comes up with creative ways to raise money to meet these needs. Team London leaders Sam Hebert, a junior at TMC and Mullin met with their teammates to brainstorm ideas deciding which ideas most marketable to students and faculty on TMC campus.
Team London camped outside the Music Recital Hall at North Campus during TMC Theater Arts Great Expectations performances, selling coffee and snacks. Held a night of music at Honu, a local coffee shop that donated a percentage of their proceeds from the event. Attendees of this particular fundraiser said the line for drinks was out the door of the coffee shop throughout the night. They also held a fundraiser at Cold Stone. At the time of the interview, Mullin calculated the donations they made to about a thousand dollars.
“As a leader it has been super helpful to see how supportive the whole campus is of the GO program.” Mullin said. “To know that even while we will be several times zones away we still have a great support system back here is super encouraging.”
As the team prepares for weeks leading up to their departure, they remain thankful, hopeful and excited for the trip ahead.
“The Lord has been really gracious with our team.” Mullin said.
Barboza expressed that he is looking forward to using the gifts the Lord has given him as a tool to share the gospel. All the while, praying that even when are tired they will continue to keep their eyes focused on the Lord.
The team will be having a landing party on campus the evening of June 10 to publicly share their experiences and pray for their time in England.
By Stacey Schuett