Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The words of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples, recorded in Matthew 28:19-20
is being heard loud and clear by
His followers at Grand Canyon
This spring and summer, 233 GCU
students and 24 staffmembers visited 16 countries on
five continents to showGod’s love, preach the Gospel,
experience other cultures and find their global,
spiritual purposes. The students signed up and were
trained for mission trips organized by the University’s
Office of Spiritual Life.
GCU’s Global OutreachMinistry began five years
ago when a total of 13 students made two trips, to
Germany and the Dominican Republic. This year,
21 trips were made possible through partnerships
with global mission organizations such as Students
International, CURE and Back2Back.
The students’ experiences were nothing short of
“We say, ‘Short-term trip, lifetime impact,’ and
that goes both ways,” said Liz Martin, GCU’s Global
Outreach Coordinator and a 2013 GCU alumna who
accompanied students to India and China. “Our
students go out with these global superheroes to rock
the nation of XYZ, but they come out of that nation
with their world rocked, and they are hungry to learn
how they can continue to go out in the nations.”
Once back on American soil, some are inspired to
start volunteering for agencies in the Phoenix area,
while others are laying groundwork to pursue global
mission work after graduating. Then there’s GCU
sophomore Tashina Thuraisingam, who spent three
weeks inMay in western Honduras. There, in the
muddy waters of the San Juan River, the 19-year-old
was baptized.
A rocky road to faith
Thuraisingam’s parents were divorced when she
was young, and she spent most of her girlhood
shuttling from her hometown of Flagstaff to
California and back again. As a teenager, she
didn’t know where she fit and didn’t make the best
choices in friendships and relationships. At 17, her
world was unraveling.
“I was in a dark place, and it felt like there was a
hole inmy heart,” said Thuraisingam, who attempted
suicide and was rescued by her sister. “I feel so blessed
that my sister showed up and saved me, and I took it
as a sign that God had a purpose for me.”
After her graduation fromhigh school, she
planned to attend Coconino Community College.
That changed when Thuraisingam’s dad saw a TV
commercial about GCU, and they decided to visit.
She loved the spacious campus and believed the
University’s Christian atmosphere could give her
a fresh start. Weeks into her freshman year, the
psychology major accepted GCU’s invitation for
a summer mission trip to Honduras, not knowing
anything about the country nor what would be
expected of her. But she loved children, and she hoped
that hugging them and putting smiles on their faces
would be enough.
As He is inclined to do, God had other plans for
Thuraisingam, who, with six other students and
staff videographer Ray Chener, arrived in Intibucá,
Honduras, on Saturday, May 17. She remembered
being shocked by the poverty and repulsed by the
living conditions, which the others had seen on
previous mission trips. The old feelings fromhigh
school of being an outsider began to creep in.
“Every girl onmy teamhad that look of
determination— ‘I’m going to go in and teach them
about God’ —and I felt, ‘I don’t knowwhat I’m doing;
can you give me a script?’ I couldn’t even talk to them
about the Bible,” she said.
GCU senior Denelle Esmay noticed
Thuraisingam’s withdrawal and stepped up to
mentor her. The next thing Thuraisingam knew, she
was getting letters from the other students about
how easy it was to confide in her. That changed
everything, and she began to notice the beauty
around her — the skies that seemed to stretch
forever, the peaceful meandering river and the
stunning green meadows. In nature, she took every
free moment to read her Bible and pray.
“I felt calm, and nothing else mattered,” she said.
“It’s just you and the wind and the birds and the river.
Being in God’s creation was the most amazing thing.”
Thuraisingam had a long talk with Pastor Edman
Pineda of Hands Giving Hope, GCU’s global partner
in the Honduras trip. She began to realize that, if
God could forgive her, she could — and should —
forgive herself.
One continent, three broken countries
Parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar,
where girls as young as 10 are sold as sex slaves,
are so broken one wonders if there’s enough
1...,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,...28
Powered by FlippingBook