There are many ways to spend spring break. Some students choose to go home and spend time with their families; others choose to take a road trip with some of their Yellow Jacket friends. Still others, like me, decide to go on a Global Outreach missions’ trip, either in the States or overseas. This year, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Boston, Massachusetts, aka “Beantown” to learn about church planting with about 30 other college students of various years and majors. I’m from New Hampshire, and my house is about two hours from Boston. I’ve driven through it many times but have only visited it once. I never knew that the city was home to 5 million people! What’s more devastating is that of that 5 million, only 3% are evangelical Christian. This trip exposed me to the very real need for the Gospel not just in Boston, but also in other places in the States and around the world.
The entire team was split up into three groups of about ten students, each with two leaders. The Green team was led by Dr. Jon Wood and his wife, Ellen, who also brought their four kids. The Red team was led by math professor Dr. Adam Hammett and his wife, Rachel, who also brought their four kids. Lastly, my team, the Blue team, was led by former SGA Chaplain Cameron Sardano and his wife, Carissa. Altogether, there were about 45 people on this trip! I learned so much about how the Lord is and has been working on this trip, and made some new friends along the way. Let me tell you all about it.
Day One: The Long (But Fun) Drive
Including stops, the drive took a total of about 14-15 hours. While this may sound absolutely dreadful, it was actually quite fun! One of my teammates created a music playlist on Spotify so we could all add our favorite tunes to. We slept, ate, talked, and jammed the entire way from our quaint little town of Cedarville, Ohio to the large urban city of Boston, Massachusetts. Of course, we had to stop every now and again to stretch our tired legs, switch drivers, and of course fuel up on fast food!
We finally made it to the Airbnbs around 10:00-10:30 at night. Once everyone got situated, we all hit the sack for the night. Who knew just riding along in a car for that long could be so exhausting!
Day Two: Team Orientation and Touring the City
The next morning, we had a team orientation meeting with our trip coordinator in Boston, Jon Chasteen, the director of GenSend Boston. Thankfully, it wasn’t scheduled until 11:00 in the morning, so we all had a chance to sleep in a little bit after the long drive the day before. We took the T, aka the Subway to get to the area of Boston Tremont Temple Church, where our meeting was held, was located in. He asked us to share what we hoped to get out of the trip and gave an overview of what the week would look like.
For the rest of the day until dinner time, we explored the city. We got to see Paul Revere’s house, a statue of Paul Revere on his horse, ready to go on “The Midnight Ride” as the famous poem calls it, to warn the citizens and troops that the British were preparing to attack, and many more famous monuments. Near the beginning of our sightseeing excursion, we went to a museum that had bust statues of George Washington and other famous men, as well as a ginormous painting of a meeting with Congress.
We went back to Tremont Temple Church for dinner and heard about a story from a woman who had gone on this trip several years ago, and is now living in Boston with her fiancé, serving a local church and sharing the Gospel with her coworkers at the hospital she works at as a nurse.
Day Three: Visiting Various Churches
The previous night, Jon Chasteen told us about six different churches we could visit, and we all split up into six separate teams to attend various churches. I visited Charles River Church with a couple teammates from the Blue team, Cam, Carissa, and a couple guys from the Red team. I will explain a little more about this church on Day Seven.
I need to go on a tangent here. My father was the Resident Director of Lawlor Hall when I was born, and we moved away when I was a few months old to Waldoboro, Maine. My parents had both graduated from Cedarville University in 1998 (back then Cedarville College), Daddy with a Biblical Studies degree, and Mom with a Piano Pedagogy degree. She taught piano lessons to many kids from our church, including a girl named Gracie*. My father passed away of cancer in 2009, when I was six years old, and we moved away to New Hampshire almost four years later. Gracie* and her family also moved away around the same time we did to a different part of Maine. When I was at Charles River Church, a girl approached me and said that I looked really familiar. She asked for my last name, as she had heard me say my first name a few moments earlier, and after I told her, she said something like “Oh my goodness! I think your mom gave me piano lessons!” A light bulb lit over my head. Was it really her? It was! We both laughed in disbelief, because it had been approximately a decade since we had seen each other! I called my mother later that day and told her, and she couldn’t believe it either! It is very clear that the Lord wanted me to go to Boston and, more specifically, to attend Charles River Church. The Lord works in mysterious ways!
Day Four: Geneva Initiative and Beloved Initiative
On this day, we went back to Tremont Temple Church and learned about two ministries with offices in the building. The first one is called the Geneva Initiative, which works with displaced individuals, and the second one is called the Beloved Initiative, which works with victims of human trafficking. Our team was split into two groups, and my group spent the first half of the day learning about the various services Beloved offers to victims and helped them make jewelry and write encouraging notes for victims. Halfway through the day, the groups reunited and took a lunch break. Then my group spent about half of the afternoon with the director of the Geneva Initiative and learned about the different ways they help homeless people. He took us to a couple of historic sights nearby, and we stopped for coffee at a coffee shop called The Well, which also serves as the meeting location for the Church at the Well on Sundays.
About midafternoon, both groups reunited once again, and after a relatively short break we listened to the Geneva director read true stories of displaced individuals. Before he started, he gave each of the tables we sat at four stacks of sticky notes, all different colors. We were instructed to take four of each color. One color represented four important people in our lives, one represented some of the different roles we play in our lives (daughter, friend, etc.), one color was used for four of our most prized possessions, and the last one was for us to put four different hobbies and ways we like to spend our time. As he read each story, we got rid of some of the sticky notes. The first time, we could see them all and got to choose one sticky note from each category/color to get rid of, but then we had to flip them upside down. During the second story, we had to randomly choose one from each category. Partway through the last story, he and his assistant came around to each of our tables and snatched away random sticky notes. At the end, we flipped over the ones we had left, and found that our one role we had in life did not match the only family member we had left, and our hobby did not match what prized possession we had left. For example, my last role was the role of daughter, but the only family member I had left was my brother, and my prized possession might have been my Bible (I can’t remember), but my hobby was listening to music. The purpose of this entire exercise was to illustrate the different ways displaced people lose everything. In some cases, they have the ability to decide which things to sacrifice, while in other cases, they have absolutely no control over their losses. Listening to these stories made my heart grow heavy, and it taught me not only to help the homeless, but also to be thankful for the roles I play in life, the people in my life, the things I have, and the ways I like and am able to spend my time.
Once we were dismissed, we took the T back to the Airbnbs and had dinner with our teams to process everything we had learned so far.
Day Five: Harbor City Vision Tour & A Quick Trip to Maine
Harbor City Church, like many of the churches in Boston, is very young, as it was started around 2017 or 2018. The worship pastor and his wife are actually both very recent CU grads from the classes of 2019 and 2020! The red team went to learn about the story of the Church at the Well, while the blue and green teams visited Harbor City.
We met at their office location, which is where both pastors work throughout the week. On Sundays, the church meets in a middle school gym. I wish I could remember all the details, but both pastors shared with us how the church got started and how they have seen the Lord working in the life of the church. They took us to some of the historical sights nearby, and the pastor had a story for some of them of how someone whom he had been visiting with at this spot came to Christ.
After touring the sights, we went back to the office and had lunch while we listened to one of the church members, a Boston police officer, share his story via video and verbally as well. At one point, he talked about how there was a lot of rioting going on when George Floyd died, and all police officers, as well as state police, were called to the scene. He said that in the history of Boston policing, there has never been such an event where an all-call was needed. He and his coworkers were all in a black van with no windows and had no idea how bad it was going to be until they got there. None of his coworkers are believers, but one of them asked him to pray for them, because they wouldn’t go out into the mob until he did. While they may still not believe today, the Lord was and still is working in their hearts.
Early in the afternoon, the worship pastor, his wife, their little girl, and the rest of us all made a fifty-minute drive (shockingly) to York, Maine, to visit Nubble Light House. After walking around on the rocks and getting lots of pictures, we headed over to Kittery Trading Post, where some of us bought some Maine merch. In the early evening, we went over to Bob’s Clam Hut for a dinner filled with all kinds of seafood. Then we drove back to the Airbnbs.
Day Six: Learning About Living Life on Mission and Touring Historical Sights
Once again, we spent the morning and some of the afternoon at Tremont Temple Church to hear about how two men who live their lives on mission. One of them works at Fidelity, and the other with a Boston Consulting Group. They both shared various ways in which they try to “let their light shine before men” at their workplace and show the love of Christ to their coworkers. They also gave us helpful advice about living our own lives on mission and how we will have to put ourselves out there in a way.
Afterward we had lunch while we listened to Aaron Cavin, who spoke in chapel twice this past year, share his story and some of the ministry that he does. One thing he talked about was practicing Sabbath. While I am sure many of us have traditionally thought that the Sabbath must be practiced on Sundays, for him that is just not practically possible, because he preaches on Sundays. So, he said that he works Sunday through Thursday evening, takes Sabbath from Thursday evening until Friday evening, and then goes back to work. This is something I have tried to practice more in my own life, and I would encourage you to do so as well. I know it can get very busy with classes, chapel, relationships, and many other things in life, but God made us to need rest. I heard a quote somewhere that said, “God doesn’t sleep so we can.” I urge you to take that to heart.
That afternoon, we all split off into different directions and had a little leisure time. Some went to grab coffee (again), some went to pick up a sick teammate, and the last two of us, including me, went with the Hammetts, the Woods, and the Sardanos to go explore some more historical sights we haven’t seen yet, including Paul Revere’s grave! We then took the T to Charlestown, the area of Boston where our next church to visit was located and saw the sight of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Then we headed over to a small museum nearby to check out the various exhibits they had on the Revolutionary War.
Eventually we headed over to Christ Church. The pastor shared that many before him had tried to start a church in that same area and had failed. However, the Lord has been and is working in that area. The church was able to redo the interior of their building, and Charlestown Mothers Association, an organization they’ve been working with, changed their policy so that they can and will work with churches, which they were originally opposed to for a while. They work together to organize various events for the general public with the goal of raising support for CMA and to invite people to the church. They seek to love the community and share the Gospel with them.
After spending a couple hours there, we headed back to the Airbnbs to, once again, have dinner amidst rich conversations. As you can see below, my team took a selfie.
Day Seven: Charles River Church & Debriefing Meeting
While the red team visited Harbor City Church and the green team visited the Church at the Well, the blue team had the chance to learn more about how Charles River Church got started. We helped the pastor of discipleship with a small project, and learned about how the Lord has worked in his life and the life of the church. He had started a vegetable garden for the kids in the neighborhood to plant vegetables and such that he used as an outlet last summer to share the Gospel. However, he quickly discovered that, unfortunately, gardening is not as fun for kids as he originally thought, so he decided to put the idea on the back burner for the time being. We helped him out by clearing out some dead plants and stirring up the dirt a little bit. Once we were done with that, we went back to the office for a little bit, and then went to a public park nearby to each lunch. Then we went to the church for a little bit before heading over to Tremont Temple Church in the midafternoon to debrief with Jon Chasteen and share what we’d learned from the past week. Afterwards we all had one last team dinner with our teams at the Airbnbs and started packing up to head back to the Ville the next day.
Day Eight: Another Long (Both Fun and Sad) Drive Back to the Ville
Bright and early in the morning, we began the long drive back to the Ville. It was a little sad to be heading back home, but we all looked forward to sharing our experiences with our friends and family. While we were all a little sad, the drive, like the last one, was still very fun. Kind of the same as the last one, we stopped periodically to change drivers, walk around, and fuel up on food. We arrived back at the university around 10:00 that night, and headed back to our various dorms.
My GO Boston Mission’s Trip was a wonderful experience. It was full of hearing pastors share how the Lord has been working in their own lives and the lives of the churches they serve, learning more about what church planting looks like, taking lots of coffee stops, and forming amazing new friendships. One thing I thought was so cool was that one of the church pastors said that the churches in Boston don’t have time to argue about things like baptism and other doctrinal topics, and that they all work together to fulfill the common goal they have of evangelizing to the people in Boston. They truly do seek unity for the good of the body of Christ and for the good of the lost in this large city of 5 million people. I would highly recommend this trip to any and all students, whether they have been on a mission’s trip before or not, who are also seeking to learn more about church planting and desiring to be spiritually challenged. It will change your life.
Year & Major: Junior, English
Favorite Music Artist: Jeremy Camp, For King & Country
Favorite Quote: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but one of my favorites is, “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”-Christopher Robin in Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
What do you like to do in your free time? Reading, writing, cooking, baking, playing the piano, playing the guitar, spending time with friends and family, visiting coffee shops and bookstores.
Favorite Bible Verse: Psalm 23