Four teams of students spend Interterm overseas

Biola’s Student Missionary Union sends students out to spread the gospel

Feb. 1, 2012 By Abbey Bennett

From Central American beaches to African plains, Biola’s Student Missionary Union (SMU) sent four teams of students overseas during Interterm to share the love of Christ.  SMU commissioned teams to El Salvador, Swaziland, Thailand and Spain.

Through surfing the waves, speaking at a conference, playing with children and teaching English classes, the teams were given the opportunity to share the gospel with local people. Each team was led by two Biola students who planned and prepared for their trip during the fall semester. In the midst of daily ministry, the teams recorded many of their adventures and sent prayer requests back to friends and family on their specific team blogs. Read a brief synopsis of each trip below.

El Salvador: Sharing the gospel amidst the waves

El Salvador 2012 from Cody Ramaekers on Vimeo.

The team in El Salvador set out to equip fellow believers and share the gospel through a surfing ministry organized by a Christian family. Led by junior Cody Ramaekers and sophomore Christa Rorer, a group of eight ministered in this Central American nation. Kids from the area attended the camp to learn how to surf but they left with more than just refined surfing skills. The kids experienced the love of Christ through the Biolans who taught them. The team attended a Christian Surfers International meeting, traveled to local orphanages and saw many friendships form with the locals.

The team was amazed at the work God had begun before they even arrived in the country. One of the team members, senior Zach Rose, wrote on the team blog: “We as a team have realized that we aren’t in El Salvador to start a new work, but our job as a team is to come alongside and partner with the work that God is already doing...”

Swaziland: Students partner with world-renowned ministries
Team Swaziland's Blog
The Swaziland team, led by sophomores Weston Hancock and Jenna Ewald, set out to train, empower and encourage the local people. They had the unique opportunity to teach at Youth for Christ (YFC), Swaziland’s first Youth Outreach Training Conference. Various team members were able to share lessons from their educational experiences at Biola. YFC was formerly known as only a dance troupe but now desires to reach out in more diverse ways.

We’ve realized that we have become kind of a conduit for [YFC’s] boldness in that transformation,” wrote Peter Swanson on the team’s blog, “so spending time with their staff, building relationships, and encouraging them with our own stories and laughter has been a key part of our stay.”

After a week living on the base of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Swaziland, using buckets of water to shower and learning that flexibility is key, the team began to feel acclimated. Constantly traveling between the cities of Mbabane and Manzini, the students had conversations with locals about everything from foreign aid to Jesus calming the stormy sea in the book of Mark, chapter four. The team hoped to see the people of Swaziland encouraged by the love of God and equipped for continual service long after they returned to the U.S.

Thailand: Spreading hope to a desperate people
Team Thailand's Blog
Sophomore Lucy Harig and senior Brittany Livezey, along with five female Biolans, spent their interterm in the northern region of Thailand.

“I’ve read about red light districts, seen documentaries on sex trafficking around the world and prayed against this injustice,” wrote Harig, co-leader of the trip, on their collaborative team blog. “All of these failed to prepare me for the reality we now face, being situated just around the corner from a red light district.”

The women in the area are often sold into the sex industry because their families need the money to survive. Ministering to children in the hills, Buddhists and prostitutes, the students relied heavily on prayer and God’s strength. Their time in the country was spent primarily serving through caring for children and teaching English classes at the organization TawSaeng. They also served at a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base alongside other American students from the Bethany School of Missions in Minnesota and YWAM Germany. In the midst of long days of teaching and serving, there was still time to go on elephant rides through the jungle and to ride on bamboo rafts through the river.

Spain: Seeing God’s light in a dark city
Seven Biola women went to Europe to serve local believers and share the gospel. Prior to travel, trip leaders junior Brianna Lawrence and senior Laura Dumas made connections in Spain and found a great need for English classes, service at the local churches and ministry in the nursing homes. Upon arrival, the team quickly realized that though beautiful, the city of Osuna was spiritually dark and had no presence of an evangelical church. Regardless of the spiritual oppression of the past, God’s faithfulness was evident to the team as they spent time with the people of the city and saw His divine plan come to pass. From basking in the sun on the shore of the Mediterranean, visiting the famous Castillo de Almodovar to singing High School Musical songs with students who knew little English, the team witnessed God at work in Osuna.

The four teams will share their collections of photos and many stories at “Pix ’n Pizza” on Feb. 12, 2012 at 6 p.m. in the Cafeteria Banquet room.

See an overview of the four trips, with introductions to each leader, here.

Written by Abbey Bennett, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at



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