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Student volunteer teams fan out from Golden Gate to 9 countries

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Brent’s* volunteer team is planting two kinds of seeds in eastern Asia for four weeks this summer: tree seeds and the good news of the gospel.

Kresten’s volunteer team is mapping cities and prayerwalking in another part of eastern Asia.

Josh’s volunteer team is doing people group research and sports evangelism among unreached people in Spain.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Brent said before he and his team left San Francisco in late June. “I’ve been [there] before, but not this part, and not doing this kind of ministry.” In addition to planting trees, the team also is helping local villages find and maintain clean water sources.

Brent’s team is known as the “get your hands dirty” group. Josh’s is known as the “maybe I’ll get to put my Spanish into practice but I know we all play sports in the same language so it will be a blast regardless” team.

These are all E-teams — volunteer groups led by Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary students, under the umbrella of the International Mission Board. More than a dozen E-teams are jetting to the far corners of the earth this summer to do evangelism, prayerwalking, people group research and agriculture and humanitarian ministry in nine countries. Almost 100 people are involved, half of them students or staff at Golden Gate Seminary, about a fourth of them college students and the rest high school students. Most trips are four weeks long.

Students pay about $2,500 each for the summer mission trips, which include a five-day orientation either on the East or West Coast, depending on their flight schedule. Orientation covers both logistics of the trips — what not to eat or drink, how to keep a low profile in airports and on city streets, and tips for recovering from jet lag — and ministry advice — how to help, not hinder, local missions personnel, how to share their faith appropriately, and cultural background information.

For the eastern Asia team, orientation included some practice: the team spent two hours one afternoon walking and praying on the streets of downtown San Francisco.

Team leader Kresten led the way, pointing subtly to scenes and images that sparked specific areas of prayer. The rest of the team followed, sometimes praying aloud softly. A news rack advertising pornography and “alternative” lifestyles inspired prayers for purity and conviction. Upscale stores like Tiffany & Co. and Chanel inspired prayers for release from materialism. Groups of people from other countries, speaking in their native language, inspired prayers that the millions who enter America through the ports of San Francisco would meet Christ there.

“We’re going to prayerwalk through the cities [in the Asian region], then begin trying to map them out,” Roxanne explained. “We’ll map out the various sections of the cities — what’s residential, what’s commercial, where the temples are, where young people congregate, what religious beliefs and customs people have, that sort of thing. Then we’ll give all that information to the missions personnel who live there and hopefully they’ll be able to use it.”

Some E-teams have already returned from the field; some do not leave until late July. Regardless of the length of stay, the impact is almost always the same: students who return with missions experience and inspiration, and another step in the growth of the gospel worldwide — from new seeds to blooms.
*Only first names are given because many students are going to locations that require higher security for missions personnel. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PREPARING IN PRAYER and WALKING & PRAYING.

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  • Amanda Phifer