The book of Revelation casts a beautiful vision for humanity’s ultimate reunion at Jesus’ Second Coming – a great gathering of people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” In Matthew 28:18, often referred to as The Great Commission, Jesus tells his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” It’s clear that, to God, humanity itself is, but one, enormously diverse extension of His own family. His kids. A huge group of individual lives that He paid the ultimate price for.
But down here on Earth we’ve complicated things. National borders, languages, and multi-generational scars have divided us and allowed some of us freedoms and resources that others were never given. This is one of the many reasons we have been called to mission work. At its best, mission projects introduce people to Jesus through words, actions, and practical support. This spring, a few of our academies traveled far and wide to set about that work and they shared a little bit about their experiences with us.
Rogue Valley Adventist Academy:
In the Medford area, Rogue Valley Adventist Academy partnered with the Medford Adventist Church for a mission trip to India. “We went with Maranatha to help build a cafeteria for a school just outside of Sambalpur, Odisha, India in the small town of Binjipali,” says Pastor Bryan del Valle, “The Adventist school had no cafeteria and 160 dorm students. We completed the walls of the cafeteria and on Sabbath had the chance to serve the students food and eat with them in their new cafeteria building! It was an amazing experience. We also saw over 160 people––students, faculty and members of the community––in our medical clinic. We did home visitations on Sabbath afternoon and found a one month old baby who was desperately needing medical care. One of our adult participants, Shawn Perry, had the honor of naming the baby boy Joseph. It’s a practice in Indian culture to allow someone of honor to name a baby. The boy received medical care from Shawn’s wife, Jennifer, who is a neonatal doctor in Medford. Andrea Jackson led out in a children’s program teaching health principles to the students in the school as well. They talked about exercise, diet, and emotional health. We left on March 19 and returned March 31st.”
Livingstone Adventist Academy:
In Salem, the Livingstone Adventist Academy (LAA) senior class continued their tradition of merging their senior class trip with mission work in Golfito, Costa Rica. According to Livingstone’s chaplain, Kirk Betz, “This trip serves as the senior class trip, an intercultural trip, and a service trip. During their experience seniors are immersed into the culture and language by staying in the homes of local church members. For the class trip portion they get to enjoy activities like zip lining, snorkeling and waterfall rappelling, but most of their time is spent on several service projects. Our main project this year was painting the two classrooms at the local church, as well as helping a local church member dig out their house from a small landslide, cleaning up trash in a mountain village and teaching their kids about recycling."
Betz continued, "The trip to Golfito every year is special because we have built a relationship with the churches there. In 2009 our seniors first went to Costa Rica and put the walls up on the church. During subsequent visits, seniors have poured sidewalks, built two classrooms, installed a septic tank, a new driveway and covered walkways, completed iron work, and much more. This church was meeting under a tree in the back of the property at first, but now they have a beautiful church campus. It has been incredible to be part of it.”
Portland Adventist Academy:
Students from Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) separated for two different mission trips; one to Fiji and one to the Bahamas. In Fiji, a construction team worked to build walkways and a dormitory wall among other projects, a medical team assisted with minor surgeries and medical checkups for vision, vital signs, blood pressure, and other medical care. They also led church services, preached, and helped put together worship programming. Those visiting the Bahamas sailed for seven days, stopping to help clean up, paint, and rebuild areas affected by hurricane disasters as well as putting together local VBS programs.
Columbia Adventist Academy:
Students from the Vancouver/Battle Ground, Washington area at Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) also divided for two separate trips. One group traveled down the West Coast to work with the Mount of Olives Orphanage, helping build new housing and creating a Big Brother/Big Sister program, as well as visiting a migrant camp to deliver much needed supplies and prayer near Baja California, Mexico.
The second group visited Las Palmas Children’s Village, an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, and created a Big Brother/Big Sister program there, in addition to maintenance projects on local homes.
We look forward to the day when all suffering will end, when all of the walls built up between us will be torn down, and when, finally, we will come together with Jesus. But until that day we are called to use whatever resources we have to spread the message of Jesus and to help each other through this chaotic world––both here at home and across the globe. Thank you to all of our academies, church members, and neighbors who have already begun that beautiful work through their mission trips!