Photo by Tony Cece

Monday, June 25, 2012

Center for Global Missions Team Returns from Ghana

School of Divinity student Kerre Nitz
School of Divinity student Kerre Nitz
Photo courtesy of Janina Peppers

By Amanda Morad
June 20, 2012

A team of 14 Regent University students recently returned from a two-week mission trip to Ghana, Africa. Sponsored by Regent's Center for Global Missions, the students—ranging in age from 20 to 60—immersed themselves in a culture a world away from their own.
This year's trip, the center's fourth to the West African nation, started in the city of Accra. "It's always great to bring the students to Accra first so that they experience the culture here, especially the vibrancy of the church and of Christianity," said Dr. Clifton Clarke, director of the Center for Global Missions and the trip's leader. "While a large part of the Western world is declining in terms of the Christian presence, there are many cities like Accra that are just burgeoning and overflowing with the presence of God. I think Africa has a lot to teach the West."

One of Clarke's objectives for the annual trip is to expose his students to the global church. Through teaching, preaching, leading worship and sharing their testimonies in local churches and public settings, the group had the opportunity to experience global ministry firsthand. The students also volunteered at orphanages, conducted children's and pastor's conferences and ministered to university students.

"There is great need here [in Ghana] and great opportunity for service," Clarke said. "It's interesting to see students drawing on their own backgrounds and making that a part of our mission."

After several days in Accra, students embarked on an outing to Cape Coast, home of a Dutch slave castle that was used during the trans-Atlantic slave trade era. "To be where slaves were held in the most deplorable conditions is something I can't quite describe in words," said School of Divinity student Tanya Brooks. "On the outside is a beautiful landscape, but in the dungeons of that castle, slaves experienced hell on earth."

The trip then led students to the northern part of the country to Tamale, a city well known for its Muslim population and jurisdiction.

"I think it's important ... to understand the sensitivities and the cultural nuances that are involved in sharing Christ in a context that is predominantly Muslim," Clarke explained. The team held the first ever open-air Christian crusade in the middle of the city during their stay, a move Clarke called "audacious," but part of the Great Commission. This year's trip held a special focus on Christian ministry in Muslim contexts.

Watch Clarke's video highlights of the trip.

But much of the trip wasn't spent in the cities. It was spent in the outlying rural villages around Tamale, staying in mud huts, carrying clay pots of water four miles from the nearest river and playing with inquisitive children.

"[The kids were] fascinated by people from America," Clarke said. "People want to know, what is it like in your world? There were young girls looking at our students and thinking, 'Wow, I want to be just like you.'"

Some did home stays with villagers during the trip, experiencing local food, transportation and language in an immersive way. "Ghana is a beautiful country rich with culture. Even in their curiosity of us Americans, we always seemed welcome," said School of Undergraduate Studies senior Janina Peppers. "A few times, another team member and I opted to stay with host families rather than in the hotel, and I was blown away every time by the hospitality. These people did not know us or our intentions for wanting to stay in their home, yet they opened the door wide."

This year's team consisted of graduate and undergraduate students representing nearly every Regent school.

"It's hard to leave," Clarke added. "Students were crying when they had to leave. They all really connected with the people there."

Watch Clarke's video highlights of the trip.

Learn more about the Center for Global Missions.
Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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