On February 5, 2015, a WGM Missionary couple serving in Argentina came to OCU’s Global Café and shared their vision for reaching young adults. Due to the sensitive nature of their work, we will not use their names. Their ministry was so exciting to our students and Professor Gremillion that they returned to OCU on the following Monday and Tuesday to speak in a few select classes.
This couple has discovered a unique way to implement a program similar to what has been called Community Health Evangelism (CHE) at WGM. This type of outreach seeks to meet the felt needs of non-believers in ways that opens the door to sharing the Gospel.
University leaders in Argentina tend to be resistant to evangelical Christians and the Bible. Even so, they desire to see their students get involved as volunteers in humanitarian efforts within their local communities (comparable to OCU’s Community Action Day and Christian Service projects). These secular students are also interested in volunteering. The struggle they are facing is how to make that happen in a meaningful, on-going way.
WGM’s vision is to help the university and its students by facilitating opportunities for students to do volunteer work alongside individuals and local organizations in need of assistance, and to provide the necessary tools for the university to promote this program. They need the help of our Christian OCU students to help open these doors.
OCU students are being invited to travel regularly to Argentina to volunteer alongside the Argentinian students in a variety of work and service projects. OCU students will then have the opportunity to invite their Argentinian peers to an “English Talk” class, as the Argentine students are eager to speak with native English speakers. The students may also be invited to attend a study on Worldviews. While sharing the Gospel is culturally difficult at this stage of the relationship, they are open to ask the big questions: Why am I here? What happens when I die? Etc. After the Christian worldview has been defended through apologetics, they are then invited to attend an evangelistic Bible study or to be part of an exciting new church plant.
What is most exciting is that every department at OCU can be involved in this on-going ministry! Our WGM missionaries can use tutors, sports teams, business majors, musical groups, etc. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
During Spring Break of 2016, OCU sent a team of six to Argentina on a survey trip. Professor Jamey Gremillion, OCU’s Intercultural Ministries Director, led the team of university students, including Liliana Burgos, Ben Caplan, Andrew DeMint and Lindsey Lawler, along with Jammie Wilhelm, who serves as an AGS Director and Professor.
Shortly after touching down from their final flight, the team joined a lively Sunday worship service, not unlike our services in the States.
The team had the privilege of remodeling a kitchen for an elderly lady who feeds nearly 60 neighborhood children every weekday. They lovingly refer to her as the Argentinean version of Mother Teresa. In two days, the team removed the old cabinets, storage area and counter-tops, replacing them with a custom-built eight foot high locking storage cabinet for food, multiple 12 foot shelves to hold the pans and supplies, and an island so that the children can be served their food. The team also cleaned, painted and installed four ceiling fans, along with an exhaust fan for the stove.
Lindsey was the first to test out the quality of their work by climbing onto the large storage unit. The whole team joined her for a unique team photo. “That I’m in awe of what God is doing in Argentina doesn't begin to describe it,” says Lindsey. “This was my first international mission trip. I left a huge part of my heart with the 75-year-old woman who cooks meals…out of her own home.”
The team also visited an education and therapy center that serves children with multiple disabilities — a one-of-a-kind ministry to needy families in the area. Lindsey noted that because of this ministry, “The children see hope, see love, and see Christ.” She continued, “So many wonderful relationships were built and I hope to see them continue to grow. Even though some of us had a little language barrier, they felt like family! I hope to make a trip back in the future.”
On one day, their plans were cancelled due to heavy rains. The team instead gathered together for a special time of worship and prayer. Jamey commented, “This unexpected time to focus on prayer deeply encouraged our missionary hosts; the wife told me that they were in need of our fellowship. They are ministering on the front lines to a people who don’t see a need for Christ. They have a difficult task. It was so beautiful to watch our OCU students lead this service. I was so proud of them!”
The missionary hosts made sure the team experienced Argentina life during their brief stay, taking them to the desert and mountains, touring city life, and enjoying some Argentinian beef. When they weren’t being entertained, team members entertained themselves by worshiping at the missionaries’ home and counting the number of cards Ben could successfully stack.
“Although I have traveled to many countries, this was my first missions trip. It was an experience that helped energize my life and ministry. There are no words to describe what I learned from the interaction with the Argentine people and also the OCU students. There truly is a movement of God to use young people to encourage the world. I am blessed to be a part of this team and look forward to the next trip,” said Jammie.
Andrew commented that his heart was full of mixed emotions as he left Argentina, adding, “Yes, I will be happy to see my familia y amigos again, but a large part of my heart will remain here ‘in the land where there are no strangers’. God has moved in mighty ways, and I want to say muchas gracias to the many of you who supported our ministry through prayer; your faith truly made a difference by helping to break down strongholds and open doors. Argentina, you have changed me forever, and for that te amo.”
Liliana posted the following on her Facebook page:
"I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground" -Hillsong
As we get ready to head back, I leave you with this:
Persevere in prayer.
God has His timing for everything.
Keep trusting in Him.
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