Operation Central America

Come and see what is happening on the Operation Central America missions trip. Also learn about the teams and their prayer requests.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

OCA 2012

For most of our students (and staff), the OCA trip is not so much a life-changing as a life-clarifying experience. Experiencing the putting aside of their American comforts and engaging whole-heartedly in living God’s love for whoever we come into contact with is invigorating and humbling. When they start out the think we are going there to preach the Gospel to people who had not heard the message before – after all, that’s what missionaries do, right? But they soon find their opportunities are much more subtle and complex than that.

There are, of course, people who are hearing of God and His plan of salvation for the first time, and seeing the joy in their eyes when they comprehended that incredible gift is indescribable. But we will also meet believers at all different stages in their personal walk, as well as those who have heard the Gospel and are not moved by it. Hopefully our students will come to understand that “preaching” is so much more than giving a persuasive speech and then counting the raised hands or people who come forward. One goal is for them to recognize that their message has impact because we live it first and then explain what was behind our actions. James 2:12-14 says “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” Being part of this first trip provides students a glimpse of the blessing available to and through those who are willing to step out an faith and say “I don’t know what you’ve got in store God, but I know it will be good so lead on.”

In the past ten years we have seen nearly 500 students face fears and challenges of many kinds and come out with a stronger faith and a better awareness of the men and women they have the potential to become. Thousands of people have been treated
by our medical team, thousands of children have been served by our childrens team, and countless numbers have seen and heard the Word of Life from our pastors and drama presentations. In travelling back to towns and villages our teams have visited we see the positive effects on the community, the ripple effect of the life-changing power of the message we plant in those we serve
who, in turn, serve those around them with that same God-given grace and mercy.

Our structure and approach is still very much the same as when these trips started over 20 years ago. We will be splitting our team of 58 students into 5 smaller service teams – mime, medical, childrens, sports and drama, and service – and they go out into the different communities to meet the varying needs of the people God has set in our way. Over the course of 2 weeks we will be visiting 3 different towns, serving in each for 2 to 3 days before moving on. We will work with a local church, following their lead in terms of where and how to serve. Our goal is to build awareness in the community of this thing called God’s love and then connect those who want to learn more to the local church for ongoing encouragement and learning. We have worked with the same churches over the years so we have built up quite a bond with them, which helps make our visits that much more richer and

This year we will be travelling from June 10 to June 23. There are three main purposes of this trip:
o To spread God’s word and show His love,
o To serve the people we meet in whatever ways we can, and
o To provide a positive cross-cultural experience for both the members of our team as well as the people we meet.

Over the course of the two week trip we will visit three very different communities in three very different climates. One is a town high in the mountains, another border town on the coastal plains, and the third is a small village that was nearly wiped out several years ago when Hurricane Hugo ravaged Central America. The children’s team will be visiting a variety of schools and childcare facilities, putting on puppet shows and engaging the children in various activities. A team of Guatemalans with a marvelous clown act will travel and perform with them. Our sports team will be playing games of different types, primarily soccer and basketball in middle and high schools. They will also be presenting a mime presentation of the power of God’s forgiveness. Our mime team will present a series of sketches, creating a program that lasts up to an hour, that illustrate key tenets of the Bible from creation to the end times. The service team will be doing whatever the local church needs help with – painting, cement work, or constructing houses. And the medical team will be bringing care to people who can’t afford to see the local doctors. In each town we members of the local churches work alongside our students, so that the people who are touched by the message of Christ’s love will have ongoing support and opportunity to learn more.

These trips cannot succeed on their own power alone. I am hoping you will be willing to be part of our faith engine, praying for the effectiveness of our work and our health and safety. Each year we are amazed at how the power of prayer is revealed time and time again. God has richly blessed the past trips and we know that a huge part of that blessing is the result of the continuous and
heartfelt prayers of our supporters back home. Other prayer needs include:

o That the team members stay healthy, safe and rested
o That we are able to effectively communicate our faith to the people we meet
o That we don’t get discouraged when our plans and expectations don’t align with what God has in mind for us

Thank you for taking the time to read about our trip and your continued support of our team. We are looking forward to participating in this trip and having the opportunity to share the experience with you.