Mexico (about 20 times to build houses, a children's home, and such)
Atlanta (to do inner-city ministry)
North Carolina (hurricane relief)
Louisiana (hurricane relief)
Mississippi (hurricane relief)
Kansas (tornado relief)
Arizona (projects at an Apache Reservation)
Though these trips require a lot of time, money, and effort we are firmly convinced of their value. And, though we hope that the groups we work with benefit from our labor, we believe that their greatest value is in what our students gain from the experience.
* They gain a broadened view of the world. They begin to see beyond just their experience and see how others live, how others think, and how others serve God. They begin to experience other cultures, worship in new ways, see need up close and personal. Their eyes and hearts are opened.
* They gain a greater appreciation of their ability to serve and meet needs. They contribute to the lives of others in ways that pull them out of their comfort zones and stretch their faith. Our prayer is that they carry the experience with them as they leave the UofA and that they will continue to find ways to serve and meet needs wherever God leads them during the rest of their lives.
* They experience God in deep and fresh ways. For those who are already Christians, they often return revived and closer to God. For those who aren't Christians (and there are often those with us who aren't), they get a chance to see the lives of Christ-followers up close and personal - both those they are traveling with and those they are serving. It is not unusual for these to later give their lives to Christ because of the seeds planted during a trip.
* Many begin to sense God's call on their lives on Spring Break trips. As I think of those who have left here and are now in ministry in the US and internationally, at least 90% of them took part in at least one Spring Break mission trip. I am sure that each would speak of the impact that experience had on their life.
I often tell our staff and students that there isn't anything that we do that can't be changed - but I can't see us ever not having a mission trip over Spring Break. The benefits are just too great for our students and for the places they will serve through the rest of their lives.