Read the students' reflections on their experiences.
Nairobi, Kenya – As Morgan Bundenthal said goodbye to her seatmate on the flight from Sparta, Michigan, to Washington, D.C., the self-identifying atheist said she was probably the nicest Christian he had ever met and wished her luck on her mission trip in Kenya.
The encounter was one of several that marked the first day of travels for 42 high school students who flew to Nairobi during the first week of July to be part of Nazarene Mission International’s Mission Immersion 2012.
We hailed from diverse backgrounds -- America, Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands – but we shared the common experience of having sensed God calling us into missions. We planned to test and confirm that call through a week of mission simulations led by current Nazarene missionaries and mission workers.
Routinely, we hear about the life-changing events during mission trips, but we don’t realize that there are also seeds planted on the way to the destination.
Placed between two complete strangers on her flight to D.C., Morgan went from sitting silently at first to asking questions of her seatmates, to hearing, “Kenya is a weird place to be going.”
Upon learning of the spiritual nature of Morgan’s trip, the atheist in the seat next to her unhesitatingly said, “I don’t like when people tell me to believe in God.”
Morgan calmly explained her point of view that “God is a just and loving God.” She said he became defensive and ended the conversation there, and the rest of the ride was “awkward and touchy.” But as they were making their way off the plane, going their separate ways, he complimented her friendly witness.
The rest of us coming from the U.S. met at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York to board our flight. A group of three women from Switzerland approached student Lexie Barbee and asked her who we were and what were we doing. We were, as Lexie puts it, “a massive group of people with matching shirts on; they can’t help but notice.”
To answer their question, Lexie explained our group was made up of students who feel a call to missions. The women asked what denomination we were serving, and as several of our group tried to explain the Nazarene denomination, the women seemed confused.
“We are here to serve the Lord,” Lexie finally told them. “They smiled at us … I could tell they were excited.”
As missionaries-in-training, we have so many opportunities ahead of us on this amazing adventure. But we already put into motion the expansion of God’s kingdom before we arrived in Kenya. So whether we are sitting by strangers, attracting attention with matching shirts, or even belting out, “What makes you beautiful” on the plane, our travel was just another step in our ongoing mission to spread the love of Jesus Christ.
I agree with Lexie when she says, “this is only the beginning!”