In addition to Nike, Coke, and George Bush the impoverished residents of Los Lopez, Nicaragua, can add “Oak Springs Baptist Church” to the list of English words that they know. The reason? Short term missions. A team of twelve high school students from the suburban Kansas City church recently completed a week-long mission trip that theologians and missiologists are calling “the most successful short-term mission trip since Pentecost.”
The village, which has been under a cloak of darkness and impervious to evangelism since the mid-900s when it was home to much Mayan sun-worshipping and virgin sacrificing, came to know the light of Christ in a matter of days thanks to the efforts of the kids from the Oak Springs youth group.
Lifelong missionary George Edmundson, who has been toiling fruitlessly in the malaria-infested jungles for the past thirty years, had this to say regarding the team’s success.
“It’s unbelievable! The boys played soccer with the village kids. The girls sat under shade trees taking pictures and fanning themselves. They just modeled authentic American Christianity, and the Nicaraguans really responded to that.”
Rev. Edmundson has since revamped his evangelistic efforts to incorporate the successful methods of the Oak Springs kids. “I’ll definitely be buying a lot more Sprites and complaining about the weather more often. It worked for them, it can work for me.”
The students – who also built an orphanage and taught the entire village to read – seemed as surprised as anyone at the receptiveness of the natives. Tenth grader Jeremy Foote credits conversation and relationship building with opening the way for the gospel.
“[John] Clark and I just walked around saying things like ‘Donde esta mis pantalones’ and ‘El quiere a chicos pequeños,’ which I think means ‘he likes little boys.’ All the little kids would laugh every time we said it and I guess they learned to love the Lord at the same time, which is definitely a bonus.”
Sarah Boone, who started dating college intern Zach Gilbert during the trip, talked about the life-changing impact the trip made on her and her peers.
“Ohmygosh! It smelled sooo bad there. The mosquitos were, seriously, bigger than your face, and I saw like eight guys peeing in the street. This experience definitely showed me that I’m not called to missions or to ever spend any time in Central America ever again.”
Following the success of this trip, the church has planned more trips to other strongholds of illiteracy and paganism including East St. Louis and Canada.