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Spring Break missions trips touch hearts, lives

March 24, 2011 : Allison Cundiff/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University freshman Ali Hagopian helps at a school in Bosnia during Spring Break.

A total of 101 Liberty University students and 10 faculty and staff members spent Spring Break (March 14-18) helping others around the world by getting involved with the missions opportunities offered by Light Ministries, the short-term ministry department of Liberty’s Center for Global Ministries.

This year, Spring Break campaigns included Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Haiti, Slovenia, countries in west Asia, countries of the Pacific Rim, and the Amazon region in Brazil. Students were given a chance to assist in medical clinics, youth ministry, food distribution, extreme sports ministry, teaching English as a second language and service projects.

Freshman Ali Hagopian was part of the Light team that visited war-torn Bosnia where they ministered to cultural Muslims by working with a humanitarian team who organized food distribution to needy families, carnivals for children that promoted health education, as well as school visits to teach English.

“This trip impacted me in ways I cannot explain,” she said. “God is doing amazing things in Bosnia and just being there for a short time, I was able to see God working. … I didn't know what to expect, I thought it was going to be like any other missions trip — you go some place, spend a few days sharing Jesus and then come home — but this trip was so much more than that. I was able to really build relationships with the people,” she said.

Dr. Ed Smither, director of the M.A. program in intercultural studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, led the trip. He said he was most impacted by the daily struggles of Bosnians, especially those who were refugees during the war and now struggle with unemployment and limited opportunities.

“I was reminded in a very tangible way about ministry in the way of Jesus — proclaiming good news with our lips but also caring for the real human needs of the poor, broken and lonely,” he said. “Part of our ministry was simply listening to the life stories of those who have suffered greatly and many who have simply been forgotten.”

Hagopian said the trip was a very humbling experience for her due to the generosity and hospitality of the families they visited.

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, led the trip. He said he was most impacted by the daily struggles of Bosnians, especially those who were refugees during the war and now struggle with unemployment and limited opportunities.

The Bosnia team teaches English at an elementary school.

“To see how little each family had and how much they were willing to offer a stranger in their house was mind blowing. These people are some of the most welcoming and kind souls I have ever met in my entire life. … It was so sad to hear the stories of war, but at the same time so encouraging to see the hope they had been given,” she said.

In January, Light Ministries led trips to East Asia and India. Light will lead several more trips in May, to Asia Minor, Ethiopia, France and North Africa, India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
In the past 20 years, Light has conducted more than 220 international evangelistic campaigns involving more than 6,900 students and ministering to more than 3 million people all over the world.

The Center for Global Ministries also offers missions opportunities for high school students through Xtreme Impact and missions internships for college students through LU Abroad. The center also provides missionary mentors for college students through its Next Steps program.