Mission Lazarus- Honduras
Brian Johnston, senior education major from Abilene, was looking forward to a “cool” summer mission trip. Instead, he faced an incredible and moving journey he was not expecting.
Mission Lazarus is a holistic mission, meaning it meets many different needs. The four branches of the mission are medical, agricultural, spiritual and educational, along with a refuge kept for children. The refuge holds about forty kids at a time, similar to the United States’ Child Protective Services.
Johnston and 13 fellow interns traveled to four communities in Honduras: Duyure, Limon, San Marcos and Mojaras. He was a part of the educational branch, which allowed him to assist teachers with discipline and lesson plans through seminars and meetings.
“These kids need a lot of help,” Johnston said. “They have a low-level of education.”
Johnston said Limon was the “roughest” place. Families live in government housing and deal with sexual abuse as well as impoverished living conditions. Johnston and his group desired to provide lasting change for these people.
Needless to say, Johnston was greatly affected by many things throughout his journey, one being living in a real third-world country for two months.
“You hear about it, but it really slapped me across the face,” Johnston said.
Now he considers himself blessed to have a great family, plenty of food and many opportunities – things that are not easy to come by for the less fortunate people of Honduras.
Johnston was also humbled by the fact that he could not change the lives of the people.
“These lives are in God’s hands. I just want to be a part of what He’s doing,” said Johnston. “God pulled away layers that I had built on my heart. He showed me how to love and how to care.”
Village of Hope- Ghana
Lacy Butler, sophomore nursing major from Sunnyvale, traveled with Worldwide Witness to Ghana. Ghana’s Village of Hope takes care of orphaned, needy and abandoned children. Butler’s mission group spent time teaching the children, working in a medical clinic and getting to know the locals on a personal level.
“The kids were very welcoming and thankful,” said Butler. “They see a lot of people come and go.”
Lake Volta, located in Ghana, is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. In Ghana, parents are persuaded to release their children to work for fishermen in exchange for pay. The fishermen often take the children as slaves for their fishing business. Many children are beaten and forced to do extremely dangerous things, sometimes resulting in death. Butler was able to meet survivors of this horrendous lifestyle through her work with the Village of Hope.
“Twenty-five kids have been rescued from Lake Volta by the Village of Hope,” said Butler.
The hope and thankfulness of the children was even more moving than the stories of the survivors, said Butler.
“Listening to the kids pray was like listening to an older man pray,” said Butler.
Butler said the culture of Ghana was extremely relaxed, making it easy for “Satan to corrupt thoughts.”
“I have never encountered Satan as I did there,” said Butler. “Satan is so real.”
However, Butler also experienced the power of God.
“It was the most amazing thing seeing the Lord overcome all of it,” said Butler. “He can constantly overcome anything.”
WorldWide Witness- Thailand
Jennifer Lewis, senior family studies major from Plano, had the “best experience of her life” this summer while interning in Thailand.
“The Thai people were incredible,” said Lewis. “And we had an amazing team.”
While in Thailand, Lewis stayed in the Payap Christian Zone, which consists of a church, some classrooms, fellowship rooms and apartments. The interns would talk and play cards with the students in an effort to bond with them.
During her stay in Chiang Mai, Lewis and her fellow interns taught mainly college-aged students English. Although the Thai students were slightly intimidated by the English language, Lewis jumped right in and began forming relationships. Though Lewis was stepping out of her immediate comfort zone to talk with the people, she did not find it hard to do; instead, she thought it was something “exciting.”
“Something I learned is that God uses you, without you having to do hardly anything,” said Lewis. “God taught all of us.”
Lewis said a great amount of her spiritual growth can be attributed to her mission work in Thailand.
“I spent an hour each day in quiet time,” said Lewis. “Through everything, I realized how God speaks to you. He wants to speak to you and overflow your life.”
Even though Lewis has had a love for the Lord, it has grown deeper within her.
“This was a training period to prepare for the rest of my life. I learned how to put God first,” said Lewis. “I crave talking to Him.”