BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Nearly 150 students and chaperones hit the shores of Oahu, Hawaii, this summer for a week of ministry during “Collide/Lima Kokua,” the first-ever coed missions trip for students sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union.
“This event is designed just for students in grades nine through 12 to give them the opportunity to make a difference in the world for Christ,” said Suzanne Reece, national WMU ministry consultant for the student team.
Sponsored by national WMU, Hawaii WMU and the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention, the week-long event originally was called “Collide,” but organizers wanted a name that would reflect their partnership and goal for the project. So “lima kokua,” Hawaiian for “helping hands,” was added.
“This image of helping hands, being the hands of Christ, perfectly describes our event purpose,” Reece said.
The name was particularly fitting for Rogelio Maciel, 13, of First Baptist Church in South Houston, Texas.
“This was my first time doing a missions trip, and I went to help out with other people and show many people about Christ,” he said.
In partnership with 17 island churches, the students and leaders served at 17 ministry sites and participated in ministry projects like Vacation Bible School for homeless children, backyard Bible clubs, painting, cleaning up trash, distributing church information, prayerwalking and other activities.
“The thing that meant most to me was seeing the kids in VBS learn about Christ,” Maciel said. “And when they grow up, they will teach others.”
Alicia Esquivel, 16, also of First Baptist South Houston, said, “I got to play with the kids and teach them about God. It was amazing to hear their answers and comments about God…. I enjoyed learning from the kids that I was teaching.”
Collide provided an ideal opportunity for growth and discovery, said Sandy Borrego, a group leader from First Baptist South Houston.
“I enjoyed watching the girls take on leadership roles and responsibilities as they worked with the children at Hawaii Kai Church,” she said. “They have grown so much through this experience. Our entire group returned home with a new excitement about doing missions.”
In addition to hands-on missions projects the week of June 28–July 4, Collide/Lima Kokua participants also enjoyed a Hawaiian dinner, group worship experiences and cultural experiences, including making leis. They also had the opportunity to listen to the music of Ikaika Higa, a native Hawaiian who serves as a semester missionary with Baptist Collegiate Ministry at the University of Hawaii. He sang, played his ukulele and even got the students involved, some of whom sang or played drums or guitar alongside Higa.
Although this was the first Collide event, group volunteer leaders said it was well planned and organized.
“All the groups had the opportunity to connect with the churches they were assigned to work with ahead of time, making the week more productive and familiar,” said Diane Miinch, a group leader from First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Mo. “The daily planning and sharing time kept us connected and working smoothly together.”
After the time they spent helping others and working with each other, students seemed enthusiastic about their experience and looked forward to Collide events in the future.
“Collide 2008 was the most inspirational missions trip I have ever been on,” said Allison Jackson, 14, who volunteered with others from the Beulah Baptist Association in Roxboro, N.C. “It was amazing to me that so many teens my age would travel from all around the U.S. to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. I only have higher expectations for Collide 2009.”
Stephanie J. Blackmon is a writer for Woman’s Missionary Union. For information about Collide 2009, visit www.wmu.com.