After a year of planning, Ouachita Baptist University’s Pruet School of Christian Studies hosted a hands-on mission study trip to Santiago, Chile, and surrounding areas this summer. Students helped missionaries on the field while earning course credit and gaining an irreplaceable experience.
“The goal of the trip was to aid the missionaries in Chile, to identify and encounter Chileans who have no faith in Christ and are unchurched,” explained Dr. Terry Carter, associate dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies and W.O. Vaught Professor of Christian Ministries. “According to the missionaries, our student teams truly helped open doors in some schools and areas.”
Ouachita alumnus Cliff Case, a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary to Chile, served as the team’s on-site missionary and “set up the entire experience,” Carter noted. Case’s older son Caleb is also a Ouachita graduate, and his younger son Clayton is currently a freshman at Ouachita. In addition to working with the Cases, the Ouachita group contributed to the work of several other missionaries in Chile.
“This short term mission trip was a blessing on my life,” said Timothy Stringfellow, a freshman Christian studies and Christian missions major from Kingsland, Ark. He said the trip was valuable to him because it allowed him to “learn hands on precisely what it means to be a missionary.”
In addition to establishing relationships with the Chilean people, the students and professors also rafted down the Maipo River in the Andes Mountains during freezing weather, watched the national soccer team on TV in Chilean homes and ate Chilean hotdogs.
The group lived in seminary dormitories, hotels and apartments while getting as much work done as they could in 22 days. Participants divided into four teams each led by a different professor and with different means of reaching the Chilean people.
“Sometimes the work was challenging,” Carter said, “but for the most part, it was the most successful mission trip I have been involved with.”
Dr. Ray Franklin, associate professor of Christian missions, led the sports team with the intention of reaching younger school-age children. They cleared an area for a new basketball court, provided basketball and soccer clinics and prepared Youth for Christ mission adventures, among other tasks.
The English as a Second Language (ESL) team was led by Carter’s wife, Kathy, ESL instructor for Arkadelphia Public Schools. She led her group in offering parenting workshops, youth activities and witnessing while teaching English.
The drama and music team, led by Dr. Carter, prepared seminars on parenting preschoolers, a “Kids Club” for ages 3 through 5, prayer walks and surveys of the neighborhoods and drama and music programs for schools.
The fourth team implemented GPS-led adventure hiking. Dr. Scott Jackson, assistant professor of Christian ministries, led the team in preparing GPS treasure hunts, introducing participants to the Bible and its importance, as well as multiple day hikes for groups of 15 to 20 unchurched kids.
Along with their specialized groups, the students led worship services, with a member of the team preaching. During every activity, there was an opportunity to share the gospel with the Chilean people through personal testimonies or simply by example.
Affirming the significance the importance of mission study trips saying, Franklin said, “Trips like this enable students to learn things which cannot be taught in the classroom: culture, language, travel, ministry, etc.”
Students who took part in the trip include: Jessica Bowling, a sophomore art major from Santiago, Chile; Ruth Bryan, a junior Christian ministries and Christian missions major from Wimberley, Texas; Jennifer Caudle, a senior early childhood education major from Bossier City, La.; Sara Hanson, a junior dietetics and nutrition major from Tyler, Texas; Rachael Herrmann, a junior philosophy major from Rowlett, Texas; Whitley Hoppe, a junior biology major from Montgomery, Texas; Grady Howell, a freshman Christian missions major from Mesquite, Texas; Jordan Lentz, a junior communication science and disorders major from Waterproof, La.; Cameron McElroy, a sophomore Christian missions, philosophy and Biblical studies major from Mesquite, Texas; Katie Osment, a junior history and Spanish double-major from Jonesboro, Ark.; and Neal Ozmun, a senior mass communications major from Arkadelphia, Ark
Other students who participated include: Katie Roam, a junior Christian missions major from Pittsburg, Mo.; Hanna Rose, a sophomore psychology and Spanish double-major from Baytown, Texas; Heidi Sanders, a senior communication science and disorders major from Monticello, Ark.; Timothy Stringfellow, a freshman Christian ministries and Christian missions major from Kingsland, Ark.; Rachel Swayne, a senior Christian missions, Biblical studies and Christian ministries major from Montgomery, Ala.; Lauren Tallakson, a junior early childhood education and Christian missions major from Keller, Texas; Leah Turner, a senior middle school education and Spanish double-major from Carrollton, Texas; and Katie Uttley, a sophomore Christian ministries, Biblical studies and Christian missions major from Heber Springs, Ark.
By Rebecca Stone