Grace Students Bring Global Perspective Back from Spring Break
By Ethan Horst
Eight students, six countries, three continents. These are their stories.
Student: Seth Bingham
The Bahamas are an ideal vacation destination for many, and for Seth, the trip began as just a way to get in his Go Encounter trip. While the students were able to experience the beauties of the tropics, taking a sailboat cruise around five islands, snorkeling on reefs, and swimming and hiking in the incredible natural beauty, they also spent a few days in the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau. They were able to volunteer in the All-Saints Camp, a place for those with AIDS and other diseases that are considered unclean. The Bahamas have a high presence of rings making money off of drug running and sex trafficking. As a result, there is a huge problem of crime lords becoming rich because they have both money and resources and the poor are willing to do whatever they can to make enough to survive. It was eye-opening for Seth to see the contrast between the properties of the rich, who are able to afford 300 or 400-foot mega-yachts, and the cardboard shacks of people who cannot even afford a proper house.
Student: Rachael Brown
Rachael has been passionate about the Korean people and culture ever since she first encountered it through Korean Club. Though she wasn’t able to be an exchange student, she leaped at the chance to be a student leader on a Go Encounter trip. The students on the trip were able to visit both historical and contemporary sites around the cities of Seoul, Busan and Pohang. In particular, they were able to visit Jagalchi Market, the largest fish market in the city, and try sannakji, a local delicacy made from raw octopus served with soy sauce. They also went to Handong Global University in Pohang, and were able to visit with past exchange students.
All of the sights and sounds were new to Rachael, as she had neither been to a big city nor another country. Everything from the quietness of the subway passengers to the street vendors selling their wares amid skyscrapers was unexpected and fresh. She said it was humbling to see how another culture lives, adding that because so much more is happening in a city, even the little things change. God used it to show her that even though she grew up in one culture, that isn’t the only correct way to live. She also was able to have more of an appreciation for her own culture because she lost her romanticized view of South Korea.
Student: Brandon Hamilton
Most students spend weeks dreaming about their elaborate vacation plans, but Brendan took a bit of a different route. He and two friends created their own Go Encounter trip, spending eight days in the greater Toronto area. They arranged a place to stay in Mississauga, which is about half an hour from Toronto proper, and made no further plans; instead, leaving the rest of their trip in God’s hands. Toronto is a diverse and populous city, containing one-third of Canada’s total population, with half that being immigrants from all over the world. They were able to split their time between touring the city, learning about the various cultures and serving with a Grace Brethren church plant there.
Brendan was particularly surprised by the population density, as he grew up in rural Indiana, which is a stark contrast to Toronto, where many of the houses are duplexes that are stacked with very little space between them. He also was impacted by the testimony of the pastor of the church plant there. Canada has a culture that is very similar to the United States, but more secularized. While American evangelism often pushes for witnessing and a push for quick conversions, the Canadian culture would dismiss that just as quickly. Christians in Canada need to first build a friendship with an unbeliever and then start sowing seeds, letting the Holy Spirit grow them.
Student: James Davis
James had a unique opportunity to take part in the first Go Encounter trip to Egypt. It was exciting for a math major who had worked through many applied principles featuring the landmarks. However, because it was the first trip, the group was going in blind, but was able to experience it with fewer preconceptions. James said it was very impactful to sail down the Nile and visit ruins of temples and the pyramids. They were able to visit the Sphinx and actually walk where ancients have walked and touch the carvings that were so well preserved. In addition, he was surprised by how welcoming the culture was. Muslims are often stereotyped as stern in American media, but the people were very welcoming and friendly. God used it to show him that there is often more to a culture than what first meets the eye or is presented on the news.
Student: Alec Carey
Alec knew that he needed to go on a Go Encounter trip, but, in his own words, “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.” The students spent five days total in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, ministering to college students and experiencing their culture. They also spent three days with tribes living in mountain villages, helping to distribute fresh food and clothes where they were needed. Alec had gone into the trip expecting the Taiwanese culture to be totally different, but found that the college students lived very similar lives, hanging out with friends and studying late into the night. God used it to teach him that the people are the same, only the language and certain customs are different.
Students: Phil Olsen, Katelyn O’Neal, Kamri Allen
Destination: Los Angeles
Phil, Katelyn and Kamri brought truth in theater to the City of Angels as a part of Remnant, Grace’s travelling drama team. They performed skits containing biblical truths and themes to a variety of audiences in both Christian and public schools, as well as some church services. Their shows used multiple small skits that focused on presenting truth either through a retelling of a Bible story, like the story of Jonah, or exploring a concept, such as prayer or religious correctness. In addition to performances, the students were able to explore a bit of the city. They walked down Hollywood Boulevard, visited a few beaches, and spent a day at Disneyland.
Both Phil and Katelyn were hoping that the trip would foster a stronger sense of the community in the group, and it did in many ways. The group had to stick together for the entirety of the trip because of performing together and because of staying in an unexpectedly shady hotel. In addition, God was able to use the testimonies shared on the trip to connect the group and teach Katelyn more about herself. Kamri found a nugget of wisdom in an unexpected place: a fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant in Disneyland. His fortune was, “Be ok to admit when you are wrong. You’re only human.” God then brought the phrase up during the rest of the trip, and it became an unofficial motto for Kamri.