Each summer, Antioch’s college ministry sends out teams of students on short term “Impact Trips,” giving them the chance to experience sharing the love of God in other countries, and even in other cities in the U.S.

This summer, the college ministry sent teams out to North Africa, Mongolia, India, Capetown, Brazil and Portland. We caught up with college staff member Maddie Phenix and asked her to share about her impact trip to Capetown, South Africa in July.

How do you think impact trips change the lives of the college students who go on them?

Our international college trips have the unique ability to have life-altering impact on each and every college student who chooses to go, voluntarily placing themselves in a new setting and environment where they are stretched out of their comfort zone and into a position where their dependence on God skyrockets. As a staff, we pray and converse with our long term teams (families and groups of individuals who have committed for a certain number of years to see a church network established) to find the best locations and destinations to send our college teams to for their trips. Students’ lives are transformed by the change in scenery, the relationships built with our long term teams and daily moments scattered throughout the three weeks. Almost every student returns with a testimony to share about their first time to share the full Gospel, their first time to see someone decide to follow Jesus, their first time to see God move in power or their first time to experience the power of the Church bringing hope, life, and joy to a broken nation. What God is able to do in the life of a student during a three week trip in a foreign nation cannot be replicated or duplicated in everyday life here in Waco.

What is something you learned about God specifically through meeting with Him in Capetown?

God is on the move in the African continent. It was exciting and inspiring to be a part of something that felt so much bigger than myself. Cape Town is a dynamic city because different parts and regions feel like our modernized America, while other areas have a European flavor and still other major parts definitely feel like underdeveloped Africa. Our team got to interact with believers and non-believers in both area!. It was powerful to see the gospel penetrate hearts and birth hope and life into every form of society in Cape Town. Also, the country is gorgeous! The best way to describe Cape Town is to say it is a collision of the Colorado Mountains and California beaches. Waking up to that environment every day awakened my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation.

How have you been changed by going on impact trips?

My first Impact Trip was to Haiti in 2010 after the enormous earthquake that devastated much of that country. That trip, in particular, demonstrated the power of the local church as our team of 16 college students shared the Gospel, baptized new believers and discipled Haitians.  In the face of poverty and utter destruction, we were able to shift the atmosphere of a nation by bringing the hope and life of Jesus.   Also having had the opportunity to go on trips to Uganda and India, my eyes have been opened to the beauty and glory of God that rests in different people from every nation, tribe and tongue.  My heart has been shaped by more than just what I grew up knowing as normal. Laying my hands on the sick in India, playing in the streets with orphans in Uganda, sharing the Gospel with college students in Cape Town and baptizing believers on the shore of Haiti have all dramatically altered my perspective of life, joy, purpose and my relationship with God and others. I am eternally grateful for my experiences on Impact Trips- they have forever changed me.

What was a trip highlight for you?

I was in a group with four other people from my team and we were eating lunch at a place called “Wimpy’s.” Our waitress’ name was Susan and we had engaged with casual conversation with her as she took our order and brought us our drinks. Whenever she brought out our burgers and asked if there was anything else we needed, I simply told her that we were a group of students from America who loved Jesus and wanted to bless her by praying for any need she had or by sharing the story of Jesus with her. She excitedly responded to us by telling us that she had never been told the story of Jesus and that she wanted some of her friends that were working to come and hear the story. We were able to share the entire gospel with Susan and her friends, everything from God creating the heavens and the earth to Jesus dying on the cross for each of our sins and then how his resurrection gives us all victory over sin and death. By the end of our story, three more of Susan’s friends had joined the circle. It was amazing! After we wrapped everything up, we asked Susan and her friends again if they had heard that story. Each of them discussed and came to the conclusion that they had heard bits and pieces, but never the full story.  Hoping that today would be their day of salvation, we asked them if they wanted to have a relationship with God and ask Jesus to come and take away their sins by putting their faith fully in Him. They were hesitant to put their faith fully in Jesus because of some questions they still had but were open and willing to dialogue more on different day when could take another break from work. Before we left them all, we asked if we could pray for them. One of the ladies sitting there had a burn on her hand giving her much pain. We were able to pray for her in Jesus’ name and the pain immediately stopped. Also, we prayed for girl who was struggling with some issues that had surfaced from a broken relationship she had been involved in. As we prayed for her and told her how much Jesus loved her and had a plan for her life, she began to weep. It was an incredibly powerful moment and a life-changing lunch for 7seven waitresses at Wimpy’s Diner.

What does the college ministry do to prep students to go on these trips?

Our preparation for these trips begins at the very beginning of the school year as we start to prayerfully consider where the trips will be sent the next summer. By the end of October, we have our trips finalized and begin to talk with our college leaders to pray and plan on who will lead each trip. As soon as the trip locations are announced, the numerous interest meetings begin for each individual team. By December, teams begin to form, conversations with parents continue to happen and dates begin to be penciled into the calendar. After teams are finalized, we encourage our team leaders to have 3-5 meetings with their teams to build chemistry, communicate details and equip them on the culture of their chosen country. At the end of the spring semester, we have a day and a half training called School for the Nations. It is an orientation type format for every college student that is going with Antioch on any of our Impact Trips. At this training, we equip, envision, and inspire our students to go and make disciples of all nations. As a staff, we look forward to this time to equip the students, as well as give vision and encouragement to each of our teams that will be heading out the door as soon as the end of May.

If you have any questions about Impact Trips or Antioch’s college ministry, contact Meredith Gordon. You can also follow Antioch College Ministry on twitter!