matt tullos

the compost pile of writer, matt tullos. mostly poems, prayers, rants and naratives... "Gods passion for the world has compelled me to be a contributor in the warfare of grace rather than a spectator in the warfare of religion."

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Location: Alexandria, LA, United States

Monday, August 23, 2004

Chris Turner's WMU Article

WMU’s first international collegiate team
makes a difference at Olympics through relationships

By Chris Turner

ATHENS, Greece—Short sentences, sign language, broken English and speaking louder are all methods employed as an attempt to successfully communicate cross-culturally. It is, however, possible to miss the obvious while engaged in vocal contortions.

A team of college students sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union could tell by the expression on the man’s face to whom they were speaking that they weren’t communicating. They missed the obvious. He too was an American, working as security for the U.S. women’s softball team.

“They had just finished playing and we were trying to get autographs,” said Melody Maxwell, a WMU student ministry associate and the team’s co-leader, “and we were trying to ask him if he could help us out. He finally told us in plain English he told us he could. We’d been trying so hard to communicate with so many peoples of different nationalities throughout the week we didn’t realize the guy spoke English.”

The six collegiates ladies and their leaders did more than just speak to people, they built relationships and sowed a ton of spiritual seeds. It was the first time in its long prestigious history that WMU has sponsored an international missions trip specifically for college students.

“At one point early in the week we made a list of all the different people we’d talked to and we came up with 25 to 30 different nationalities,” said Kimberly Cole, 20, of Brandon, Miss., and a student at Minnesota State University. “It was awesome because we realized that we were having the chance to touch the whole world with the message of Christ right here in Greece.”

The team used ballooning in the park, volleyball on the beach, went with garbage collectors to pick up trash in a neighborhood and many other types of creative ministry approaches to engage people in conversation. Conversations eventually moved to recording contact information that will eventually find itself in the hands of either missionaries or national believers for the purpose of follow-up. One of the most important lessons the six girls learned is that ministry opportunities continue even when not formally planned.

“We wanted them to understand that every meeting with a person is an opportunity to share Christ’s love,” said Kym Mitchell, WMU design editor and team leaders for WMU’s student resource team. “Simply engaging people in conversation can lead to opportunities to minister. We wanted them to learn that they can take that home with them and apply that concept right where they are.”

That includes shopping. The group returned repeatedly to one location in particular and on each visit spent time talking to the lady who owned the shop. She wept on the last day when the team stopped in to say goodbye.

“This was an awesome experience,” said Christie Ganly, 21, of Bonifay, Fla., and a recent graduate of Mississippi College. Ganly will soon leave for Peru where she’ll serve as a Journeyman missionary with the International Mission Board. “You could tell we connected with her. I just have a passion for the peoples of the world and here at the Olympics they come to you.”

Taking collegiate women on international trips is a new approach for WMU and one it will continue in the future.

“We have something for young ladies all the way through high school but then they all move into and adult grouping,” said Mitchell. “We decided about a year ago that we wanted to have something that specifically focused on collegiate women and this trip is the beginning of that vision.

“One of our purposes is to train women of all ages to share the gospel around the world and at home. We’ll continue to do international trips and trips within the United States. It gives them the opportunity to understand ministry from many perspectives.”

More information can be found at www.missionsinterchange.com.

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