Christian Challenge NAU team on mission in Hawaii

By Lainee Pegelow | Jan 24, 2023

Arizona Southern Baptists have a rich history of missions. From our earliest of days, men and women have answered the Lord’s call to go and serve. This legacy of obedience fuels our modern-day drive to see the nations know Jesus Christ.

For over a decade Christian Challenge at Northern Arizona University has maintained and invested in a partnership with the Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention. What began with a few students traveling during their Christmas break to serve in an Oahu mission in China town has grown and flourished into a much anticipated annual journey to connect and serve with family living in the middle of the Pacific.

January 2023 saw the largest group yet to go. Two campus missionaries and 10 students, freshmen to graduated seniors, spent months praying, fundraising and preparing to serve and fall in love with a people they had yet to meet. The team ministered alongside churches, an international student ministry and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Hawaii.

The beauty of the longevity of this ministry partnership is in reconnecting face to face year after year and seeing how God has worked in the lives of those we have served and watching college students develop a kingdom mindset to carry through the rest of their lives.

The best way to experience being on mission is for one to go. The second is to see it through the team’s eyes and hear their words of how God worked in and through them.

Maya Bickham, the newest campus missionary at NAU, said, “This trip allowed me to grow in my faithfulness and trust that God has a plan. After four-and-a-half years of praying for a church and land I’d never set foot on, I was able to finally meet the people I’d been praying for. God opened my eyes to how respecting Hawaiian culture and caring for the land has given opportunity for the church to share the gospel with its community.”

Abby Vega, a graduated senior in nursing, finally was able to spend her winter break on mission. She shared, “This mission trip opened my eyes to the joy that comes from serving the Lord. I could not be more grateful for the people I met, served with and prayed for. I loved learning about the Hawaiian culture and land. It taught me the importance of digging into my own roots and staying consistent with pursuing God. I will forever love my second family in Hawaii and hope to return in the future.”

Freshman Kylie Gagnon shared, “One of the biggest things I learned was how to be bold in my faith. Walking around on the University of Hawaii campus, I was intimidated at first. But after stopping and praying with a teammate, I became more comfortable in approaching students and inviting them to the events planned that week. I saw the result of my obedience and God’s faithfulness when some of those individuals actually came to the events.”

Jared Deibel, one of the three male students on the trip, said, “This trip totally lit a fire in my heart for missions. It was so awesome to get the opportunity to serve and partner with my team and the ministries in Hawaii. It was amazing to watch God work through and in the lives of everyone involved. I learned that when God puts something He wants in your path, all you have to do is say, ‘Yes Lord!’”

Missions is a core value of Christian Challenge.

Lainee Pegelow, a freelance writer and photographer, is communications specialist, missions coordinator and a campus missionary for Christian Challenge AZ. She is a member of Challenge Church, Flagstaff.

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