“This was the best day ever,” was the sentiment of Samuel, one of the children that the Mission Team from The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) had the opportunity to minister to in Lisbon, Portugal. Samuel made this declaration to his mother at the end of one of the Sports Camp days held at an elementary school in a Lisbon neighborhood where a church plant is being revitalized. Samuel’s mother let the team of BCF students know that Samuel had always wanted to learn the game of basketball. On this particular day, BCF student Jordan Johnson led the campers in learning some fundamentals of basketball, let them practice, and then choose teams from among the children, BCF students and others helping with the camp. Samuel was one of the team captains and he was able to use his new skills to play a game that he had always wanted to learn to play; for him, this day was the best day ever.
For the team of BCF students, it was not only a good day, but a great week of ministry. It was a week filled with many firsts, not only for the children but for the BCF Mission Team. For some, it was their first flight, their first international mission experience, and the first time doing ministry of this type. For some of the BCF students, it was the first time they shared their personal testimony in a church service with the assistance of a translator. Although there were a lot of firsts, the response from the students was it certainly won’t be the last time they answer God’s call to go to the nations.
The mission experience in Lisbon, Portugal was part of the International World Changers (IWC) of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a Network partner project between BCF and IWC. The project was conducted under the direction of IMB Missionary Steve Marlin and BCF Professor David Coggins. “It was a great week,” Coggins stated. “Our students made great strides in learning and applying what they have learned within the classroom as they worked in a number of different circumstances with different challenges.”
According to Coggins, our BCF students worked with two different churches during the week in multiple areas of ministry. In an established church, the students conducted a Vacation Bible School/Day Camp ministry sharing Bible stories, helping children make crafts, teaching skits, playing games and singing songs. The gospel was presented to the children through the stories and always with an evangelistic presentation. The students then moved to another community setting up on a basketball court and in a park in a community where a church plant is being revitalized. The students had an opportunity to teach and play different sports to include basketball, American football, wiffle ball and of course, soccer.
The Portugal Mission Team was able to spend some time with and hear the heart of the church planter, a recent Bible college graduate, who is working diligently under a sponsoring church to provide a presence in a community with no evangelical witness. The major strategy being used at the church plant is connecting within the community to impact the neighborhood. The Sports Camp is one of the key tactics that they are utilizing.
“My first international mission trip was unforgettable,” was the sentiment of BCF Senior Rebeka Brown, as well as BCF English Major Melody Barney and others who indicated this was their first international missions experience. “Before going to Portugal, I had never been on a mission trip outside of the United States nor had taken my first flight. I had no idea what to expect,” stated Barney. “Before the end of the first full day of ministry on the ground in Portugal, I had fallen in love with everything. The people of Portugal stole my heart. The believers’ love for the Lord was contagious.” BCF Junior and Intramural Sports Director Jordan Johnson wasn’t on his first mission trip, but this experience certainly made an impact as he stated, “This trip to Lisbon Portugal was the best mission trip I have ever been on. God really moved in my heart and through this, He allowed us to spread the gospel to all who would listen.”
“Young Samuel spoke volumes,” stated Coggins, when he said it was the best day ever. And not just for him, but for all of those God allowed to participate in the Portugal Mission Experience. Truly mission calls were heard and strengthened for the BCF students, the gospel message was heard by children and youth that need a relationship with Christ, a church plant and an established church were encouraged, and a vision was more clearly developed in reaching a community in a nation that is less than one-half percent evangelized. The average church membership for any evangelical church in that area is around 40 members. “I am grateful that God allowed our group of students from BCF to have a small part of helping to further the work of what He is doing in this country, and to help encourage the leadership there. But most importantly, to help our students see the big picture of the work God has called us to in going to the nations with the gospel and work alongside those God is using to bring the gospel to the lost,” stated Coggins.
For more information on mission opportunities through The Baptist College of Florida, please call 850-263-3261.