Cleveland State’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries recently took a group of 13 students to Granada, Nicaragua, on a mission trip. The trip was divided into three parts: elementary school visits, village humanitarian visits and island ministry.
During the elementary school visits, a team of BCM students visited a local school and were able to interact, teach and play with over 230 children and their teachers in three separate locations. For craft time, the team took a Polaroid camera and enough film to take pictures of each child.
Steven Johnston, BCM campus minister, stated, “Most of these children had never had their picture taken so imagine the surprise when they were handed a picture of themselves and placed it on a simple foam sheet and a popsicle stick.”
Small villages are spread out all around the outskirts of Granada, southeast of the capital Managua and near Lake Nicaragua.
During the village visits, the students set up appointments with 20 local families to offer them assistance and get to know their culture.
Each evening, the team packed boxes of much-needed supplies and food staples to deliver to these families.
The boxes contained about two weeks’ worth of supplies. After presenting the families with the gift, students sat with the families and shared life stories for over an hour, and 31 adults ended up accepting Christ as a result of those visits.
Johnston said, “One of our BCM students, Selina Forester, went to Nicaragua with us two years ago and she saw a huge need for [the youngest] children to have diapers. She just thought of using T-shirts to make cloth diapers and made a pattern. One T-shirt makes one diaper, so we had T-shirt drives across Cleveland State’s campus. She calls her service ‘Bundled and Blessed’ and made 1,000 diapers to send on various trips this summer — more than 200 were handed out to the families in the villages of Nicaragua.”
Johnston continued, “We had a night at CSCC where we had several sewing machines set up and a bunch of students and community members came here and sewed diapers all night long. It was definitely a group effort; Chad Cameron, Fitness Center coordinator, was instrumental in the T-shirt drive by collecting T-shirts from people in the CSCC Fitness Center.”
“The most rewarding part of the trip was not only spreading the gospel, but also getting to put smiles on the faces of the little kids by simply taking pictures with them and playing games,” stated BCM student Kara Lance.
“This was my first trip to Nicaragua and also out of the country. I would love to go back if ever given the opportunity again. The people are so welcoming and generous, and it is gorgeous there.”
Johnston said, “Many of our students came back with a whole new perspective on their American life. Several of them are considering entering full-time service, whether it is missionary or humanitarian, because of the trip.”
According to Johnston, there are many small isolated island communities located in Lake Nicaragua with little or no access to transportation to the mainland.
Food is scarce and fresh water is a chore to procure. One project the team undertook was to deliver building supplies for a church/community center. In the course of four days, hundreds of sections of rebar, and literally tons of sand, rock, gravel and concrete bags were carried to the mainland.
All of these supplies were placed on the team’s shoulders, carried 50 yards into the lake onto a primitive boat and ferried to the island. The much-needed supplies were then carried through another 100 yards of lake water, up the beach and to their final destination — the future sanctuary on the island.
All of this was accomplished in near 100-degree temperatures by just a handful of community college students from Cleveland.
Johnston said, “I think that may be one of our biggest accomplishments even though we did not get to see it completed. Just to know we were a part of that. I think it is important for students to know that even though we never got to see the end product, it never would have happened had it not been for their hard work.”
Johnston insists the trip was not all work, there was also some play involved as the trip also involved touring many cathedrals, as well as a zipline adventure through the rainforest on top of a volcano.
Lance said, “I love being a part of the BCM because it is a place where I can go between classes and study or just have fun with the other students. There are so many fun events like Acoustic Coffeehouse concerts, holiday parties and Free Lunch Thursdays. I have made many lifelong friendships in the two years I have been involved there.”
The Baptist Collegiate Ministries has approximately 75 active members and is located at 1475 Norman Chapel Road (across the street from Cleveland State).
They provide a free lunch every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. at the BCM and a weekly Bible study on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. The BCM is also very involved throughout campus and participates in many campuswide events. For more information on the BCM, contact Steven Johnston at 423-645-4027 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.