73 ACU students took two months out of their summer to live in another country. Sent out by the WorldWide Witness organization, these students took part in camps, medical missions, volunteered at orphanages, aided in language learning and many other missions.
Since the organization’s founding, more than 600 students have been sent around the world.
Gary Green, missions coordinator of WorldWide Witness, co-founded the organization in 2001.
“Our first year we sent students to 18 places,” Green said. “This year, we sent students to 29 places.”
These locations include Chile, Croatia, Peru, Brazil, Zambia and Bronx, New York.
Along with numerous locations, WorldWide Witness also has many different types of ministries to get involved in.
“We’re always trying to open up a wider and wider range for our students,” Green said.
Missions are often found in rural places, such as Zambia where students are involved in agricultural and refugee mission work. However, there are also missions in urban areas like France and in Eastern Europe where students minister to battered women and human trafficking. And in Japan, students continue to give aid to earthquake victims.
The offices for WorldWide Witness are found in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, but this doesn’t mean only Bible majors are involved.Out of the students who went on trips this summer, only 10 were Bible majors. Many of them were graduate students, education majors and biology majors.
Not only did these students reach out and minister to people across the globe, but they were also touched during their missions.
Kyle Yarbrough, senior accounting and financial management major from San Angelo went on a mission to Niteroi, Brazil.
“The Brazilian people were loving and compassionate,” Yarbrough said. “Living with the locals was a challenging yet rewarding experience in Brazil, because I got to learn the language and culture in a whole different way.”
Trevor Wait, senior biochemistry major went on a mission to South Africa.
“South Africa was an incredible experience where God revealed to me how truly prideful and selfish I was,” Wait said.
The experience of each student is different, but many made friendships that will forever impact their lives and live in their memories.
“I speak to my Singaporean friends every other day or so,” said Paige Berry, junior sculpture major. “I can’t wait to see them later this year.”
Recruitment for these trips begins in the fall when WWW begins speaking in classes and interest meetings. Screenings also begin in the fall to ensure health and wellness before the trip.
Students cannot go into these missions unprepared. There is a spring course that counts for a three hour advanced Bible credit. In this course, students are grouped with others who are going on the same mission.
Every week, the course focuses on a different spiritual discipline and fundraising tactics. After the course is completed, students are sent out to their fields in June or July.
When students return, WWW does not leave them to face culture shock alone.
“We really want to make sure you’re doing okay.” Green said. “We like everybody to walk through a spiritual debriefing process.”
Students take part in an evaluation of the program and a stress profile after their return.
Green said the organization searched for a book to help with this process, but was unable to find one so they wrote their own.The book is to be sent to publishers soon and will aid students in spiritual reflection and evaluation of their trip.
Green said, during recruitment each student is interviewed and asked questions about talents and passions and is then paired with the location where their abilities may best be put to use. Students from every department are welcomed and needed.