After a hiatus of nearly 16 months, our Alliance Short-term Mission teams were back in full swing this spring and summer. While we were limited to domestic sites, our teams still learned from multi-cultural experiences while working with Envision Atlanta in Clarkston, Georgia.
It has been said that Clarkston is the most diverse square mile in the United States with over 40,000 refugees from 700 people groups, making it a strategic Envision site. Of those 700 people groups, there are 40 unreached people groups from countries where our Alliance Missionaries are not permitted to go. We can’t go to their country, so God has brought them to us and the staff at Envision Atlanta are responding to the spiritual poverty as well as the physical needs.
Young Adult Team
The 80 team members on seven different teams from Alliance Church saw God working in Atlanta. “It was really awesome to get to be a part of the work that God is doing in Atlanta. Most people only hear about things like that, but actually getting to play a part in the ministry in Atlanta was very cool.” Said Chester Baranczyk, student short-term team member. Through Vacation Bible School our team members gained a better understanding of what the refugee children are going through. “Just hearing some of their stories totally changed my whole experience and gave me even more of a heart to help them.”
Participants learned new things about God and themselves and feel called to greater obedience to God as a result. One team member summed up what they learned with this statement: “The vastness of our God is unmeasurable. He knows every language and every person from every culture. And I was reminded of that in a great way.” And Grace Moser, one of our Student Team Members said, “I feel like during this trip I was very open to whatever God wanted me to do and I was willing to go wherever He led me.”
Many team members were challenged to step out of their comfort zone and talk to people they didn’t know while prayer walking and delivering food. One participant said, “It developed a deeper level of boldness in my faith to just ask someone if they would like me to pray for them.” Bonnie Baranczyk, one of our Student Team Co-leaders said, “As a leader, being able to experience the trip with a group of students was awesome. It was great to see how they grew as a team. And how they were able to step out of the comfort zone when serving.”
Student Ministries Team
Learning about the importance of prayer was an overwhelming response from adult and student team members. One student realized the need to pray more not just about herself and her family but for others as well. During one mission trip week, they had an unexpected night of prayer that was described by a team member as, “prayer that I have rarely heard. One team member prayed so sincerely and with such depth. It was the Holy Spirit that was pouring out of her for these refugee people.”
Were there any surprises? Here are some candid responses:
- I didn’t expect to see and feel God working as much as I did.
- I found the tour of Clarkston to be very beneficial. Seeing the amount of cultural diversity and poverty opened my eyes to how fortunate and spoiled we Americans are.
- I think it was also so beneficial to see how much a bag of food can change the lives of the people down there. So eye-opening!!!
- I saw God at work when everyone on the trip started to think about everyone else rather than themselves. I would say that was a distinct moment that changed everyone’s view on the trip.
What are the next steps for our short-term team members? The responses ranged from working with refugees locally to going on another mission trip. Some have found their experiences are challenging them to rethink what they spend their time thinking about and doing. At least two team members are praying about doing internships with Envision and several students feel the call to pursue missions after graduation. “I definitely want to go back next year, if not sooner. God is calling me back to the kids there.” And another student’s response, “I am going back to Atlanta. I am going on the mission trip next year and once I am an adult, I want to do an internship in Atlanta.”
Student Leadership Team
Students and adults alike were impacted in some powerful ways through the short-term mission trips this year. Claire Helmila, student team member was especially impacted by her experience. “My trip to Atlanta changed my life. Getting to see and interact with people of so many different cultures who have experienced many hardships truly opened my eyes to the ways I can help, and the ways God has been working. I feel so blessed that I got to be a part of it for a whole week! Moving forward I have learned to go more with where God leads me (not where I think is best) and I have found that I may be called to global children’s ministry!”
God is definitely at work at Envision Atlanta and in our Alliance Church members and we couldn’t be more excited to watch what He will continue to do. To God be the Glory!
Ways to Pray:
- Our Women’s Atlanta Fall Mission Team preparing to go October 23 – 30, 2021
- Wisdom for the Global Connections staff as we plan for the 2022 short-term mission teams
- Mission team participants to follow through on what they learned and feel called to do as a result of their mission trip