‘Forever Changed’: College team serves in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Lainee Pegelow | Jul 10, 2024

Goodness comes from obedience. This simple statement had a profound effect on a group of college students from Arizona and Hawaii this summer while serving in Sub-Saharan Africa.

More than two years ago, Lainee Pegelow, a leader with Christian Challenge Arizona, and Arjay Gruspe, a leader with Baptist Collegiate Ministry Hawaii, began praying and seeking how the Lord would call and use college students.

Through continued partnership between the two ministries, a team of seven had the opportunity to travel around the globe, experience a new culture and love the lost. The trip was part of the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists’ partnership with the International Mission Board’s Sub-Saharan Africa Affinity.

The collegians and leaders experienced how the Lord brings individuals from different places together to serve Him. They met one another and became a team as they traveled across the globe. They learned that each member of the group brought specific gifts and talents that the Lord perfectly selected for His purpose.

During their 12-day trip, this team experienced such goodness that was a result of their obedience in answering God’s call — goodness in how they saw the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed to the nations, goodness in how He gave them the ability to minister in a culture not their own and goodness in how He grew them in their walks with Him.

While in Africa, this team served in several different contexts that included university students, Muslims, East Asian peoples, refugees, street kids, foreign expats and nationals.

At the universities they visited, they had the opportunity to prayer walk the surrounding neighborhood and campus. As they met college students, they found opportunities to share their 30-second testimonies and the 3 Circles gospel presentation, resulting in a young man giving his life to Christ.

“Throughout the trip, there were a few key concepts and focal points to keep in mind,” said Stan, a student from the University of Arizona. “The first would be abiding in Christ — this is the center of why we were there and what we live for is to abide in Him, seeking God — and to reflect the light that has been given to us into the lives of those around us.”

Serving among refugees and street kids was spiritually and emotionally draining for the team, but they found a deep sense of purpose in serving the least, as Christ calls His followers to do. The women on the team learned the art of listening as they sat in a modest living room hearing from several women who had fled their homelands seeking refuge in a country not their own, telling their stories of physical pain, loss and despair. The team had the privilege of praying for these women one by one and, through tears, shared the hope that they have in Jesus Christ.

“Hope in the midst of poverty and seeing the reality of the refugee struggle impacted me,” said Julia, a student at the University of Hawaii. “The hunger of the refugee Christian for spiritual growth moves me to share the Gospel.”

As this team moved around the cities and country, they were challenged to grow in their own faith and see others as Jesus Christ does. They saw things in themselves that the Lord wants to grow and refine. They were reminded that they must abide in Christ always and can do nothing in their own power. They were stretched and disciplined to become more like Christ and have a kingdom mindset about the lost, the gospel and eternity.

“As a result of this mission trip, I learned God’s grace and goodness is the same no matter where you go,” said Regan, a student at Northern Arizona University. “I also learned that God can change you so much in a short amount of time. I am forever changed!”

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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