Truman BSU took 21 students to Nashville, TN, from March 13-17 for a mission trip with a unique spin. The trip was as much focused on the students going on the trip as it was on those they were serving. Of the 21 students who piled into Memphis Baptist Church’s (MBC) minibus along with Campus Missionary Greg Xander and MBC’s pastor and youth pastor, only 6 were BSU students. Most were internationals from Nepal, Africa, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and India. Over half the trip’s participants were unbelievers—and that’s on purpose.
Xander sees mission trips not only as an opportunity to serve and share the gospel elsewhere, but also as a mission to those who are on the trip. He says it’s like “creating an excuse, setting up a date” to impact unbelieving students with the gospel. His hope is that by spending so much time together, unbelieving students will “see there’s more to Jesus than they thought,” he says.
Over the course of the week, they worked with Christian nonprofit agencies primarily serving the homeless, elderly, and underprivileged. Every night, the team ended with group time, which included both debrief and devotionals. Xander intentionally sought to use this time to plant seeds and introduce ideas about Jesus that might spur further conversation. One night Xander was up well past midnight with a student who wanted to dialogue further about Jesus.
Since the trip, the students have continued to spend time together. “Our big deal is the follow through,” Xander says. “We want to see these students move closer. Xander says to those who help support their ministry that taking these unbelieving internationals on a mission trip with him is like “supporting international missions in your backyard. Imagine how much it would cost to send teams to those five places…You’ve just invested in us reaching them.”