GAC students recently traveled to various locations worldwide to participate in mission trips during Winter Break from February 13-17, 2023. These mission trips allowed students to serve communities in need while also gaining valuable experiences and insights into other cultures. Students saw firsthand the power of God’s love.
Read on to learn more about each trip, and the experiences students, faculty, and staff had.
A group of High School students traveled to Ecuador, where they served with Fundación PESCA, a nonprofit organization that serves the people of central and eastern Ecuador.
Led by Kristen Wright, TJ Dixon, Tim Ball, and Karyn Arnold, the group worked to meet spiritual and physical needs in Ecuador. The group partnered with PESCA and a local church to share Christ’s love through VBS and a building project for the Yanceys, former GAC teachers who are missionaries in Ecuador.
Students shared testimonials about the experience:
“Yesterday, we worked at the Yancey’s new construction by pouring cement, shoveling rocks, and dirt, clearing land, and more. I had a lot of fun and got to bond with many of my team members. Afterward, we ran the VBS, and I was able to connect with the little kids and laugh with them despite the language barrier.”
“I enjoyed working on the construction site as it was a new experience, and many memories have been made with my team members. Learning to work together to accomplish goals for those in need has helped me grow as a person and better appreciate this opportunity. Following construction, I enjoyed VBS because of the way we learned to communicate with the children despite speaking different languages. By the end of the day, I felt really good about all we had done for the community and reflected on it during devotional time.”
Another group of students traveled to Greece, where they served AXIA 113, a subset of Hellenic Ministries. Through acts of compassion, GAC students served refugees, many of whom are fleeing their homelands looking for new opportunities and freedoms.
The team leaders, Gary Richey, Mandy Richey, Paul Cable, and Tami Miller, led the group by working with local organizations to assist refugees and other vulnerable populations by providing meals, participating in various work projects, offering spiritual support, and participating in existing outreach programs, all while showing the love of Jesus.
In the rural community of San Raimundo, Guatemala, a group of students worked with the Casas por Cristo organizations to build homes for families in need. The team leaders, Jo Ann Waldrop, Brad Denton, Lauri Fields, and Russell Lawless, led the group in constructing a home from the ground up and supporting the local community. The love of God touched the local community.
“Something that was extra special about our trip is that our students were able to encounter the gospel through serving those in need around us. When we were doing our dedication of the house to hand the keys over to the family, you could feel the presence of God there and how the students were moved through that moment.” - Russell Lawless (High School Math Teacher)
Meanwhile, another group of students in Honduras participated in a mission trip with Honduras Outreach International at Rancho el Paraiso, a working ranch located in the Agalta Valley in the department of Olancho, Honduras. Led by Kristy Shelton, Derek Wilson, Megan Wilson, and Josh Aldrin, the group provided the local population with medical assistance, education, and other forms of support.
The team worked in one of the villages helping with community and home improvements such as putting in concrete floors or building latrines and room additions. Each day, there was an opportunity to share Jesus with the village's children, teaching Bible school lessons.
Read testimonials from trip participants below:
“I always love getting to know the Honduran teachers and encouraging each other in our work as educators while also learning from my new Honduran friends about community, hard work, contentment, and appreciation for the things in life that I have. The kingdom shines brighter when we are together. Not because we brought Jesus there but because we got to step into what God is already doing in Honduras and join Him there.” - Megan Wilson (High School Math Teacher)
“What an amazing blessing to be able to return to Honduras after two years due to the pandemic. I couldn’t have hoped for a better group of leaders and students. This whole team was ready to throw themselves into loving each other and the people of the village of El Mico wholeheartedly. Each team member was truly seeking what it means to live out the way of Jesus. In the process, we learned so much about life from our new friends in El Mico. We worked alongside them to complete eight concrete floors, four latrines, four pilas, and one roof addition. Four of our students shared a message from the Bible with the village each morning before we started work, and a different team each day spent the morning with the school children in Bible school. Our theme was the fruits of the Spirit, and it was such a blessing to see our team and their village live out those fruits of the Spirit during the week. The tears that flowed from our team and the people in the village on the last day were a testament to the loving bond that was made during the week. This was a life-changing mission for all of us.” - Kristy Shelton (Assistant Athletic Director and Lower School PE Coach)
In addition to these international mission trips, a group of middle school students traveled to Mississippi from February 10-14 to participate in a mission project closer to home.
Students and leaders participated in community service projects in the community. The group partnered with Adventures in Missions and traveled to Mashulaville, Mississippi, a rural town in Noxubee County. A highlight from the trip included attending the Choctaw Christian Church service, where the hymn “In the Sweet By and By” was sung together in the Choctaw language.
These mission trips gave GAC students a unique opportunity to serve others, explore different cultures, and grow in their faith. As GAC continues to prioritize service and outreach, students will have opportunities to make a difference in the world and see the power of God's love in action.