Think with me for a minute about the things we do for our favorite sports teams.
We spend hours watching them. We spend money on food just to invite people over to watch them with us. We buy clothing and apparel with their name so people know we are affiliated with them. We research statistics about the team they are playing just to see the odds of winning. We even travel to see them by car or plane.
By no means are these things wrong, and in many cases, they are lots of fun. You’ll definitely catch me watching the Super Bowl this weekend rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, picture all Christians having the same excitement, zeal, and dedication for expanding the Kingdom of God and living out the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20). How would the world be different? This is the question and challenge we charged our 8th and 11th grade students with as they prepared for this year’s short-term class mission trips in the Yucatán Peninsula and Bahamas.
In these countries, they drew closer to the Lord and developed a greater hunger and thirst for Him and His Word. Through this filling of the Holy Spirit, they were empowered to spread the Gospel, encourage those who have physical and spiritual needs, and point people in those areas to the local church.
In the serving, our students gained a renewed perspective, realizing how many comforts we take for granted daily. They were not only challenged, but also came to know God better as a Great Comforter. I invite you to read the leader testimonies below to hear more about how God chose to use our students for His glory.
The Bahamas: Knowing God and Making Him Known
By: Teagan Quinnell
The Bahamas is a country full of life and culture. Yet, it is a place where, like everywhere, needs the light of Jesus. CCA students have visited Nassau for over 15 years to partner with the Adventure Learning Centre as well as schools around the island. The theme for our trip is Knowing God and Making Him Known. As our 8th grade students journeyed throughout the week, we challenged them to do these two things every day and presented them with opportunities to do so.
With our first goal being Knowing God, we challenged our students to fully commit to growing in their relationship with Him throughout the week by going through the Gospel of Mark in their devotions every morning. The Gospel of Mark is a great mirror to our trip in that it is a fast-paced look at the ministry of Jesus.
It’s a beautiful sight to see kids encounter God in a new and fresh way.
The second way we challenged our students in their walk with the Lord was by coming together at night around a campfire to worship and hear a message. Each year, there are numerous stories of students rededicating their lives to Jesus, laying down burdens, or giving their life to Jesus for the first time.
One of my favorite moments from this year’s trip was seeing a student finally let go of what was holding her back from God to finally surrender to His love and grace. It’s a beautiful sight to see kids encounter God in a new and fresh way.
As we encouraged our students to be filled by God both morning and night, our days were spent spilling out the love of God throughout the island. Our main ministry took place in schools, but there were also a few moments in which our students were challenged to minister to adults.
Through this humbling experience, their eyes were opened to see beyond themselves.
Every year, our students are taken aback by the politeness and pure happiness of the Bahamian children when they receive a balloon or get their face painted. Through this humbling experience, their eyes were opened to see beyond themselves.
One of my favorite ministries is to the residents of All Saints, which is a type of convalescent home. We went there to bless the residents by spending time with them, yet, it’s us who left blessed. We sang with a man named Arthur, played dominos with Perry, and helped Patrick clean his front porch.
Our ministry is nothing extraordinary, yet it is the love of Jesus illuminating through our students and trip leaders that makes it impactful.
Mexico: One Heart
By: Tara Fox
One Heart. It was the phrase emblazoned on the shirts of roughly 200 juniors spilling into the Fort Lauderdale airport during the early morning hours of January 6. There were, of course, more than a few sleepy eyes in the group, but excitement still hummed in the air.
More than just a class outing, the junior class trip to Mérida, Mexico is rooted in the heart of the CCA mission — to make disciples. “We did this by partnering with our sister schools and churches in Mérida and serving them as they further the Gospel in the hearts of the people in the Yucatán,” Pastor Mike Leger noted.
Throughout the course of the week, nine teams served in roughly 20 different cities or villages both in and around Mérida. Teams tackled work projects for communities and churches, visited nursing homes, organized soccer camps, and participated in street evangelism.
“Each year we board our plane with hopeful anticipation, praying that God will do a thing. And each year, He shows us that his love for us is wide and deep,” said Shawnteria Mack, CCA teacher and Gray Team co-leader. “We see God stretch and mold our sweet group. We see them walk in their gifts in a mighty way.”
During the Vacation Bible School programs that were held for children in local schools, churches, and neighborhoods, music and laughter filled the air as CCA students shared Jesus’ love through Bible lessons, skits, songs, and testimonies. Plus, with face painting, balloon animals, soccer matches, and craft stations, there was plenty of fun to go around! “It just warmed my heart. I don’t think I ever stopped smiling,” said Izzy Khan, who summed up the sentiments of many of our students.
We see God stretch and mold our sweet group. We see them walk in their gifts in a mighty way.” —Shawnteria Mack
Another wonderful part of the missions trip was the deepening of fellowship within the body of Christ. Not only did CCA students form friendships with their translators from Mexico, but they also built stronger relationships with one another. Reflection times in the evening often included an opportunity for testimonies, along with the sharing of struggles, hopes, and fears that students were walking through.
For Nick Cafaro, this was especially meaningful. “Being new to Calvary, the Mexico mission trip allowed me to get to know my classmates and form a special bond with them. It also puts things in perspective to see how happy the kids in Mexico are considering how little they have,” said Cafaro. “It was an amazing experience, and I would definitely do it again.”
This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that shifts their perspective for the long run.
Throughout the trip, God continually provided. Whether teams faced bouts of sickness, changes of plans, or unexpected challenges, He always remained faithful, and our students recognized that. “Mexico was an opportunity to feel God’s presence in a whole new way. There wasn’t a moment in which I didn’t feel his love for us,” said CCA student Majo Escobar.
It was a humbling thing to know that God did not need us but still graciously allowed us to be a small part of His great work in Mexico. What a privilege it was to partner with one heart with our brothers and sisters in the Yucatán for His glory and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If God is for us . . .
Our theme for this year is illuminate, and at no other time during the year is this theme more apparent than during our missions trip weeks. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us of our calling to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
I am blessed and humbled by our students’ boldness, faith, and willingness to serve others in the name of Jesus. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that shifts their perspective for the long run.
There will always be trepidation about things that could go wrong when you venture into the unknown, especially when you step out of your comfort zone for Christ. But remember, we have a promise: If God is for us, no one can be successfully against us (Romans 8:31).
I’m already looking forward to seeing God move through our incoming 8th and 11th grade students in 2021 and for my sons who are in elementary to experience the joy and excitement of one day serving the Lord through global missions. I pray that you too are encouraged to fervently live out your faith — with the same enthusiasm you would show for your favorite sports team or musical artist — wherever the Lord calls you.
Steve Mayo serves as the Director of Discipleship at CCA. He also collaborates with the CCFL six78 and HSM youth ministries, and assists with overseeing the church’s Vision 2023 Education Team. He and his wife Morgan have three children who attend CCA — Titus, Quincy, and Maxwell.
Teagan Quinnell has been teaching seventh grade Bible at CCA for six years. She has also led the Middle School Discipleship team along with Mr. Fanning for the last five years. Teagan loves to be goofy with her students and challenge them in their spiritual lives.
Tara Fox has served as an Assistant Administrator and High School English Teacher at CCA for one year. She has served in Christian education for fourteen years, with a background in adolescent literacy and school administration. She is passionate about learning, literature, and reaching the next generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bahamas video credits: Collin Dobbs, 10th grade (drone footage), Ms. Teagan Quinnell (filming), Cortez Valencia, 8th grade (editor)
Mexico video credit: Erik Pluemer, CCA teacher