Even though I had no idea what to expect, the spring break missions trip to NYC blew my expectations out of the water! Throughout the week, we had lots of opportunities to teach immigrants and refugees the basics of the English language, usually under direction by English teachers affiliated with UNO (Urban Nations Outreach). We also passed out flyers for the English classes and various programs and churches. There were a couple of interactions that really stood out to me throughout our week, the first of which happened on Tuesday night.
We were preparing for our ESL (English second language) class at UTBC, and Maria (UNO mission team director) let me know that there was a man that was coming that they wanted me to sit down and talk to. I didn’t think much of this, not even when I first saw the man and noticed a heavy Slavic accent. He introduced himself as Misha, so I told him my name as well. My first question was where he was from, to which he responded “Ukraine,” which immediately caught me off guard. I asked him when he got to America, and he said, “three days ago,” which caught me further off guard.
I was a bit at a loss for words, so I tried to continue the conversation and learn a bit more about him. He had found a flyer for free ESL classes and showed up on a whim. He was wondering why it was free; it seemed to confuse him. I briefly explained that the church was providing free services to immigrants and refugees, to anyone who needed to learn English. He said, “so it’s free because of that?” and pointed to a cross displayed on a shelf. That was such a powerful thing to say, and I realized he was exactly right; the classes that we were providing were just an extension of love and service that Jesus Christ as shown to us.
We began to work on past and present forms of verbs. A lot of the examples he provided through the words we were going through granted a bit of insight to what he had been experiencing back in Ukraine. For example, he explained that he had felt scared and knew the situation was dangerous, and that he had heard bombs and guns. It really opened my eyes to how real the situation in Ukraine is right now, and although there’s a lot of talk and a lot of news about the situation, it’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand. Besides the emotions, it was a great time to interact with him; he was very kind, grateful, and polite.
While our team had many other meaningful interactions, I’ll share just one more. On Friday, our team taught citizenship class at the South Asia Community Center, and I saw a man struggling and falling behind, so I sat next to him and ended up exchanging introductions. His name was Mot, and he was from Saudi Arabia.
We veered off a bit from the assignment so I could help him more specifically. He wanted to learn a bit about me, so I told him we were from Cedarville, Ohio, where I was learning about the Bible. He didn’t know what that was, so I started explaining what the Bible is, which turned into sharing the full Gospel. It was a bit slow, having to translate different words and really flesh out certain concepts, but we eventually made it, and he seemed to understand Jesus and the Gospel. Mot was very grateful that we were providing free classes, and I told him we’re volunteering because we’re trying to show the love that Jesus showed to us. Mot was such an amazing guy, and he wanted to talk to me more sometime, and I had to break the bad news that we were going back to Cedarville the next day. However, I got his Snapchat, and I’m able to keep in contact with him, giving him some English pointers and checking in with him, asking how I can pray for him.
This trip was a fantastic experience. It not only grew my understanding of other people groups and religions but also gave my team and I the opportunity to live out our call as Christians to minister and love them, sharing our hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I would highly encourage everyone to get involved with global outreach in some way or another here at Cedarville – you won’t regret it.
M. Div Student, Class of 2026
Where I’m From: Menomonee Falls, WI
Favorite Class: Old Testament Literature with Dr. Miller
Go-To Rinnova Order: Dirty Chai