Boarding a plane in DFW, Shelby Weatherly, a junior biology major at Dallas Baptist University, grew increasingly excited about the week ahead. While many of her classmates spent their Fall Breaks participating in travel studies, going on vacation or visiting family at home, Weatherly decided to join a group of DBU students to serve overseas in Denia, Spain.
“I was so expectant of what the Lord was going to do,” Shelby recalls. “Leading up to the trip, I was excited to see how my love for Hispanic culture combine with my passion for Europe, but God did exceedingly more than I could have imagined.”
The team of 18 students and three staff members was led by Chris Holloway, DBU Director of Global Missions, and the group spent their time at Alfa y Omega School putting on a Vacation Bible School for the students, who ranged from 1 to 16 years old.
Alfa y Omega was founded by Iglesia Evangelica Bautista La Trinitat, a local Baptist church in Denia, and the school has students from a variety of different religious backgrounds. Because the school itself is not specifically Christian, the DBU team had a unique opportunity to present and share the gospel to people of different or no faith.
“Over the course of the week, so many students were able to hear the gospel for the very first time,” explained senior Kylie Day. “My eyes were opened and my heart broke for the students who had never heard the name of Jesus before, but many hearts were softened and seeds were planted during our time in Denia.”
Through these moments and interactions, the students, who went into the week seeking to make an impact, were impacted themselves in return.
“Every day was different,” said Shelby, “and every day the Lord taught us something new. Whether it was learning from the teachers and pastors or sharing sweets and Bible stories with the children, the Lord used the people of Denia to show us His goodness.”
DBU students spent each day of the week teaching a different aspect of God’s character, with every character trait being used to present the gospel message in a different way. Through games, stories, lessons, and conversations, the team was able to engage the students of Alfa y Omega in incredible ways.
“We brought a message of hope that is so familiar to us to children and teens who viewed the gospel as a very foreign idea,” remarked junior Jacob Stevens. “We saw the faithfulness of the Lord as he allowed the gospel to be proclaimed in so many different ways.”
“Without a doubt the best part of the trip happened within my small group,” shared Kylie. “One of my seventh grade girls gave her life to Christ, and seeing that take place was just further evidence of how faithful God is.”
God’s faithfulness was on display in many ways through the experience at Alfa y Omega as Chris Holloway recalled.
“Alfa y Omega uses their platform to spearhead the proclamation of the gospel to the students involved in the school, which has been an answer to prayers that have been lifted by the church since 1914. It was so encouraging to our team to see the faithfulness of God through this school, and we look forward to partnering with them in the future.”
Partnering with people groups around the globe is a familiar experience for DBU students, as the Global Missions office sends out teams on different trips all throughout the year. For many, short-term mission work such as this becomes an integral part of their college experience and students from the Spain trip were no different, as they were impacted by their time abroad in unique and transformative ways. The sentiment to continue kingdom work in the Denia area was shared among many members of this team, including Shelby.
“It is evident that the Lord is at work in the lives of these students,” Shelby said. “While this was my fifth time out of the country, it is the first time that I seriously considered asking my trip leader if I could stay instead of returning home. Lord willing, I look forward to returning to see His work continued in Denia, but for now, I will wait and I will pray.”
Courtney Hackett serves as Assistant to the Vice President of Communications at Dallas Baptist University.