Students Serve Refugees in Spain over Christmas Break

By Amber Ginter ‘19 / Natasha Grimmett, Director of Student Involvement

Instead of relaxing over Christmas break, eight Ohio Christian University (OCU) students and staff took a mission trip to Spain to serve. Devoting their time in service to others for ten days, the students made Barcelona, Spain their new home for the week, adapting to its culture, environment, and surroundings, as Jesus did when He traveled from place to place to serve others.

Through Ohio Christian University’s partnership with World Gospel Mission (WGM), Taryn Goble, Victoria Henley, Crystal Bethel, Adina Rosenlieb, Jake Routzahn, Mandi Kempton, Alexis Williams, and Alexis Sible were led by Natasha Grimmett, Director of Student Involvement. 

On this special mission’s trip working mainly with families from the Middle East, the team had the opportunity to teach the true meaning of Christmas through children’s English classes, music classes, sports ministry, tutoring ministry, a special youth event, and helping with women’s English classes. Focusing on the story of the shepherds in the field, the team was able to share how listening to God’s instruction is so important and how the birth of Jesus was the greatest gift to humankind. Fun games like “Simon Says” helped the children to remember the lesson taught and enforce their English skills, and candy canes were given as small tokens to share with family and friends. For many of these children, it was their first time hearing the full Christmas story. 

The OCU students and staff on this trip had the privilege of serving alongside long-term missionaries from many nations. These missionaries work within the city of Barcelona teaching both English and Spanish to those emigrating from countries mainly in the Middle East, and North Africa, and also giving the families the opportunity to encounter Christ, often for the first time. An Arabic speaking church that runs through the same ministry provides an opportunity for holistic community engagement. 

Only 2% of Spain is evangelical Christian. To help make this more understandable, imagine being in a pitch black room of 100 people, and only two people knowing the way out. How do you find those two people? How do you know who to ask? Would you even know that there were people who knew the way out? It would be possible to live in the darkness without ever knowing there was an alternative…unless those two people stepped out and started seeking out others to help out of the room. Those two have the key to exit the room, but instead choose to enter it, again and again, to lead others out. That is how the team could best explain their time in Spain. Despite overwhelming darkness, they were privileged to lend a hand to the “two” and help lead others into the light. 

Sophomore Mandi Kempton shared this specifically about her time in Spain, “Through our time spent in Spain, I feel like, beyond anything, God taught me that His plans and timing are perfect. Through different circumstances, the trip went a bit differently than I originally planned, however, through the disruption of my own plans, God blew me out of the water with how faithful He is in all circumstances, even if they aren’t necessarily ones that we would like to be put in.” 

Spain was Junior Victoria Henley’s third mission trip through WGM and OCU and had this to say, “Fundraising for Spain for me was one of the hardest trips to raise the funds for, but after coming back and reflecting over the work God did in my heart while there I can understand why the enemy was so against me going and attempted to discourage me so strongly! God broke my heart for more than just His kingdom’s work that was taking place there, but also for His people. The missionaries and church volunteers, the children attending classes, as well as the Arabic community we got to encounter in our day to day ministry. I saw God’s love break financial, language, and all age barriers in just ten days. I learned a lot about the long-term ministry while I was there and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for them next while I watch and pray from afar.”

For information about upcoming WGM mission trips or internship opportunities, contact Natasha Grimmett.

About OCU

Ohio Christian University is committed to offering a complete education that develops students intellectually, professionally and spiritually. OCU offers degree programs for residential undergraduate students, graduate students, and adult and online students. Every program is designed to equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, families, and the world.