Mission trip opens students’ eyes to global service

WINNIPEG, MB--Senior high students at Linden Christian School recently returned from a life-changing trip to Guatemala which exposed them to Third World poverty and helped them personally draw closer to God.

The humanitarian trip was held in partnership with Impact Ministries, which has planted six Christian schools in central Guatemala. The students participated in a building and outreach project at one of those schools.

This was the third time Linden Christian School made the trip--something that is becoming an annual event. Next year's trip is already booked.

Last year, 14 students from Grades 11 and 12 went on the mission trip, and this year the number rose to 18 students, along with four trip leaders.

Meanwhile, everyone at Linden Christian gets involved by collecting school supplies, toys and other items for the missions team to bring to the Guatemalan children they meet.

Cam Stephens, director of spiritual care and campus life, says seeing the extreme poverty in Guatemala invariably challenges students' worldview. That combined with no access to social media or television eliminates everyday distractions and helps them open their eyes to God.

"When you pull yourself out of the normal, you are more open to hearing from God and what He is doing," he says, adding that because Linden Christian School is in an upper middle class area, most students go years without needing to trust God for their basic needs. "This trip helps them realize that God is involved in those everyday things."

The two-week trip involved a construction project at a school in a mountain-top village in the region of Tactic. The students also offered a vacation bible school (VBS) program for the elementary school children, and as part of their outreach, they brought the children school supplies, clothing and other gifts.

Grade 12 student Rachelle Hamm was particularly moved by the extraordinary faith she saw in Guatemalan believers despite their extreme poverty.

"The people have nothing but they still worship [God] like crazy. Spiritually they are really wealthy."

"The trip opened my eyes. It was amazing how content and happy the local Christians were. They were a godly example to us," echoes Josh Dalzell, also in Grade 12.

The students also visited a local hospital to pray for, and distribute gifts to children and maternity patients.

"The hospital experience was very humbling as was everything there," Dalzell says. "The people were all willing to accept prayer. I don't know that they were all Christians, but it seemed in that culture they were willing to acknowledge their needs and accept the help we could offer through prayer."

During the trip, students also witnessed first hand the strong influences of witchcraft in Guatemala, Stephens says. "They named spiritual warfare as real forces at work, something that is rarely mentioned when they are home."

Dalzell says although the demonic activity was clearly evident, "feeling God's presence there reminded me of how big God actually is.

"God confirmed for me that he is so much more powerful than anything else. He can overcome the darkest of dark," he says.

The trip also left a lasting impression on Hamm who, as a result, sponsored a Guatemalan child. She hopes to go back there on her own in the next few years.

Dalzell, along with all of the team members, highly recommends the experience. "It would be awesome if every Christian could do something like this."

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