A team of 28 high school students and five adults from Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Mich., recently spent a week on a mission trip in Guatemala—building homes, setting up medical clinics, and sharing their faith.
The group partnered with Paradise Bound Ministries, a West Michigan-based mission organization that provides assistance to impoverished areas of Guatemala. For many of the students, it was their first mission experience, said Kevin Van Wyhe, Hillcrest’s youth pastor and the trip’s organizer.
The team built six houses during the week. Along the way they built relationships with the families who will live in them. At the end of the week, church members dedicated the homes and prayed for the families.
“We give [the families] gifts, we give them their home, but we also tell them about Christ,” Van Wyhe said. “While that’s going on, the entire team is on the perimeter of the building, [laying hands on the house and] praying for them.”
Nichole Schuitema, one of the students who took part in the mission trip, said she learned a great deal about the power of prayer during the week, as well as being open to hearing God’s voice.
“God emphasized to me that I have to be open to his calling,” said Schuitema, 18, who will start college this fall.
Another student, Kayla Bouwman, recalled praying over a Guatemalan teen who had just accepted Christ. She said the mission experience gave her greater courage to share her faith.
“There’s so many people around us, wherever we are, who need to hear the good news,” said Bouwman, 18, who plans to attend Calvin College in the fall.
More than 300 people agreed to serve as sponsors to help the students raise the funds they needed to go to Guatemala. They were able to track the group’s activities on a blog that both leaders and students updated regularly, Van Wyhe said.
Van Whye hopes to continue taking students back to Guatemala for future mission trips to build upon this summer’s experience. “When you build a relationship somewhere, you create change,” he said.