By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
MEXICO – Nearly 200 members of the LSU, New Orleans Metro and Southern University Baptist Collegiate Ministry took a trip south of the border over their spring break to give the gift of salvation to more than 60 people.
During the March 23-30 evangelistic outreach, they witnessed a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit in a variety of ministry opportunities in which they participated, according to LSU BCM Director Steve Masters, including seeing five members of their own team put their trust in Jesus Christ.
UNIFIED FOR SERVICE
The team included 178 LSU, 11 New Orleans Metro (comprised of Loyola and Tulane University students) and five Southern University students, BCM staff, pastors and van drivers. Masters said the cooperation among the three BCMs with churches in the Baton Rouge area made for a memorable trip.
“The Mexico mission trip was a great week of missions, ministry, sharing and connection,” Masters said. “The participating students slept on the floor, worked long hours, had to take cold showers, much of the time ate sandwiches for lunch each day, gave up time with their families and loved every minute of it.”
Florida Boulevard Baptist Church, Istrouma Baptist Church and Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge; Comite Baptist Church in Central, Hebron Baptist Church and Southside Baptist Church in Denham Springs; Faith Baptist Church in Livonia; and, Zachary Baptist Church in Galilee provided vans for transportation.
SHARING FOR CHRIST
Fourteen teams were formed to work with more than 790 children in Bible clubs in 10 different cities. Teams painted churches and parsonages, installed sheetrock, constructed bunk beds and plummed hot water heaters at the ministry center in Piedras Negras.
The students also led sports clinics attended by more than 150 people each day; distributed food to the poor; and saw more than 100 patients who came through nine medical clinics.
They saw the most decisions at the Bible clubs, where 50 children professed Christ as Savior. The sports clinic also yielded results, with 10 making a commitment to follow Jesus.
Danny Currie, associate BCM director at the Loyola and Tulane BCMs, said four students from LSU responded to the Holy Spirit after a devotional with the entire team Monday night. The students were then assigned to a BCM staff member for discipleship.
“For me, it was a really special night because I really felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking through me in a powerful way and the engagement by the students was very high,” Currie said. “In fact, I didn’t plan on giving an invitation but it kind of just happened. That night set the tone for the rest of the week to encourage our students as they were out in the mission field.”
Jason Thomas, director of the Southern University BCM, said joining with the other BCMs was a rewarding experience for his students.
“Our students came back with a new outlook on giving back, as well as learned valuable lessons on serving and sharing God with language constraints,” Thomas said. “It is often the first mission project some of our students have done and it is invaluable for them learning to give up a spring break for ministry.”
Throughout the trip, God reminded students about the importance of trusting Him despite hindrances, such as overcoming a language barrier, several students said.
“The Lord revealed to me that we still serve the same God despite language barriers and cultural distances,” said LSU student Mallory LaBorde. “God reminded me of how good I have it in the States. I fell in love with the children and the family of the church. Seeing their love for each other has inspired me to love my family the same way.”
LSU student Brittany Freeman said the Holy Spirit convicted her of the need to step outside her comfort zone to be a bold witness for Christ.
“If we step back because we aren’t comfortable and feel we can’t do it, we are dulling our light that the Lord gives us,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t matter if we feel we can do it ourselves or not, because God is powerful and can do all things.”
COMMITTED FOR LONG HAUL
The LSU BCM has been involved with a Mexico missions trip from 1992-2009, when they worked with churches in Piedras Negras and just to the south of the city in the Casa Hogar orphanage. With the exception of 2010-2015 when they did not travel back due to drug cartel violence, the LSU BCM has returned to work there annually.
Masters said after conducting extensive research by visiting with pastors in the country, IMB representatives, border patrol officers and other government officials, he is confident that working in the Piedras Negras area is safe for mission teams; and, he encourages others to consider going there to share Christ’s love.
“There is a great need for other groups to work in Mexico all up and down Rio Grande River,” he said. “The drug cartel violence is still occurring in parts of Mexico, but it has subsided in the Piedras Negras area. It’s time to re-partner with churches in that region.”
Masters said the mission trip has become an annual tradition for his family. Though his three daughters are no longer participating because they have moved out of state, Masters said they still have fond memories of time spent in Mexico.
“I started taking my three daughters on the BCM Mexico mission trips when they were seven years old,” he said. “They all went each year until they graduated from college. It was one of the best things I did for them as a parent.
“It helped them understand our God is a God of all people,” he continued. “It helped them see that material possessions are not as important as faith in God, family, and the Church. It helped them learn the importance of service. Our 2018 Mexico mission trip participants had the same experience and feelings.”