In the Bible, Matthew 28:19-20 reads, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Vanguard was once known as Southern California Bible College which provided missionary training services. They have been sending out teams since 1921 and continue to this day to send out teams of students, staff, and faculty all around the world to do the work of the Lord.
During Summer 2022, the Office of Global Education and Outreach is sending out three teams: Puerto Rico, Northern Ireland, and Navajo Nation.
The Puerto Rico team will depart on May 7 and return on May 14. They are partnered with Convoy of Hope which is a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides disaster relief around the world. In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico leaving many without homes. While out there the team will be assisting in building houses, meeting homeowners, and hanging out with the children.
The Northern Ireland team departs on June 29 and will return on July 13. They are partnered with Cornerstone City Church and will assist in their children’s Vacation Bible School (VBS). For many years Northern Ireland has had a sectarian conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics which has produced protests, bombings, and explosions. The issues at hand were mainly political and cultural yet as a team, Vanguard wants to demonstrate and promote the unity of denominations.
The team headed to the Navajo Nation departs on May 16 and returns in May 2022. The Office of Global Education and Outreach has partnered with the Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ), another Vanguard department. The Global Center’s mission is to educate people on Human Trafficking and fight it around the world. They will be partnering with the Navajo Nation Office of the First Lady and Second Lady.
When asked what the team will be doing in the Navajo Nation, Matthew Holgate, Senior, Communication major, and intern at GCJW mentioned in a message, “We will be hosting the first-ever Ensure Justice Navajo Nation Conference as well as learning about the culture, land, and system within the tribal communities.”
Both the Puerto Rico and Northern Ireland teams have been preparing since January for these trips by attending weekly team meetings, doing assigned readings, activities, and fundraising together.
Students from all teams were able to raise money by signing up for shifts to put together and distribute Lions Loot boxes at the end of the semesters. They were also able to sell items and services at the Take Off Fair on Wednesday, March 2. Students sold clothes, hand-painted bags and cards, jewelry, and more.
The Puerto Rico team also had a fundraiser at Chipotle on Wednesday, March 30. The Northern Ireland team sold Krispy Kreme donuts on March 17 for St. Patrick’s Day and had a fundraiser at Chick-Fil-A on April 6.
These students have also been taking time to get to know one another, participate in team bonding, and learn more about one another. The Navajo Nation has been prepping the conference materials and connecting with members of the Navajo Nation to grasp what they are to expect.
Meanwhile, all team members are individually preparing their hearts and minds for the trips to come.
Outreach trips are amazing experiences that expose students to new cultures, ways of living, and spreading the word of the Gospel. These students will face a rollercoaster of emotions from excitement to confusion, distraught, and acceptance.
Sophie Garrett, senior, nursing major and student leader of the Puerto Rico trip explained why she decided on this destination, “Ultimately, I think what made me decide to go to Puerto Rico was that I went on this trip in 2019 and I really enjoyed my experience there and I am really curious to see the country again and how they are improving.”
Students make their decisions on what outreach trips to attend for multiple reasons. It could be because that is where they felt the Lord called them or because that outreach trip coincides with their major or future profession.
Caleb Oddo, a sophomore, and business major mentioned why he chose to go on the Northern Ireland trip, “I chose this trip because I want to serve people and kids, more importantly, to reach the next generation and present a godly influence. God made a way for me to go on this trip and changed my heart because I had thoughts of going on a different trip.”
I hope that in the future more students will consider attending these trips. The Office of Global Education and Outreach has different opportunities every year that are available to all students. Even Vanguard Alumni can attend too!
Keep these teams in your prayers as their trips get closer and they prepare to travel the world. Reach out to your friends and fellow students. Continual support is appreciated. Do not forget to ask them about their experiences and stories once they return.