How Two Weeks Can Change your Life- Mission Trips to Bethesda Outreach (South Africa)
Every Cedarville University student is strongly encouraged to go on at least one missions trip during their time here. After praying that God would lead me wherever He wanted me to go, I knew it was my time to GO. I finished my application, and soon after, I got accepted.
After the application process, our team met regularly to film chapel videos (these were going to be played for the children at the school we would be serving) and to get to know each other. Our team laughed during our trip because these meetings were REALLY awkward. However, building relationships with my teammates was just one way that my life was changed during our two-week missions trip. I made eight of my closest friends during our time in Africa. The late-night conversations while watching the amazing African sunsets and the laughter we shared while eating chicken feet and Mopane worms really grew our bond as a team. Our team was also able to have several Gospel-centered conversations that allowed us to grow closer to each other as well as grow in our relationship with the Lord.
During our trip, we assisted the Bethesda maintenance team with various projects. We spent several days painting the ceilings of the houses, staining playground equipment, cleaning the classrooms, and digging trenches. We were also grateful to have amazing meals prepared for us by the staff. Through our interactions with staff members, it was clear that they lived out 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (ESV). One of my favorite memories happened after we grabbed shovels and pickaxes to start digging the trench. George (a staff member) asked to pray for us. He ended the prayer by asking that everything we did during our time would be pleasing and glorifying to God. It was truly amazing to see such servant-hearted staff members at Bethesda, who do everything to please Him.
Our ministry was mainly focused on the children and parents who lived at Bethesda Outreach. While many of the children were orphaned, others were the parents’ biological children. Our team was amazed that we couldn’t tell if a child was orphaned or a biological child. The parents loved each child the same and were committed to raising them to love the Lord. For a few days, we were able to have a meal with the families. This was a good opportunity to get to know the parents. We played card games, learned songs, and ate delicious homemade meals. After our time together, we wanted to talk to the parents individually. We asked how we could pray for them, and they were honest and said it is hard to raise so many children; they were struggling just like any parent does. However, they realize that God had brought them to Bethesda and trusted that God would guide them.
The ones who made it almost impossible to leave were the children. I’ve never met children who were so grateful for the things that God has given them. Even though several of these children came from horrible pasts, they never failed to bring laughter and smiles to the people they interacted with. The first full day we were in Africa, we were walking back to the team center, and we came across the children playing outside. Of course, we had to stop. A couple of teenagers greeted us, and they taught us a game called “fill the bottle.” The game was that simple: fill the bottle with sand before you get hit with a ball. We played this game for an hour. Our time in Africa also included kids bringing us unknown fruits (they were REALLY sour, and the kids laughed with us), line dancing, singing, and boxing. I am not sure who had more fun, our team or the kids. During the final days, our team was blessed to share several Gospel-centered conversations with the children (the children asked the questions, which made us all want to cry). At church, and later at the Boma (a fire that several people can sit around), we were privileged to sing praise to God both in English and Tswana (I wish I could insert a video here because it was a moment I can’t accurately describe). These moments are the ones I will always remember.
Our time in Africa was life changing. Seeing God’s presence on the other side of the world allowed us to learn more about Him and His power. This trip allowed me to think about my future and how I want to raise my children, as well as being grateful for everything that God has blessed me with. If you are considering going on a missions trip, through Cedarville, your church, or by yourself, I would highly recommend doing it. It brings great joy seeing the lives that you have impacted, but the lives that impact you are life changing. As one child said on our last day, “If we don’t see each other again on Earth, we will see each other in Heaven,” and I am awaiting the day when we can be together again.
- Majoring in Primary Education
- Hometown: Sidney, OH
- Coffee Order: Iced Cowboy from High Grounds Café
- Favorite Bible Verse: Matthew 6:25