A Mission Trip Partnership to Middlesbrough.

posted Jun 10, 2014, 9:06 PM by Ginger Bowman   [ updated Jun 10, 2014, 9:21 PM ]
It all began with looking for an international mission opportunity for our college students.  We tried South America and then Australia.  I had taken students to Europe and Africa and was ready to go to a new continent.  Then I heard this guy talk about Middlesbrough, England.  There was no doubt God was opening a door for us to walk through. During our first adventure there in 2007, we were partnered with Middlesbrough Community Church.  We brought 8 students and 2 leaders from Canyon Creek Baptist Church in Temple.  

We knew very little about this church or their leadership. The details had all been worked through Youth For Christ in England.  I would learn day one, through a grace-filled confession, that MCC was we would call back home a “charismatic” church.  While true, it was more importantly a church with an incredible heart for their community to know Jesus.  They wanted to make disciple makers, not just converts. 

The next year the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor began its partnership with churches in the Middlesbrough area.  For the last seven years, they have brought 3-4 teams of students to serve in local churches furthering the Gospel in any way possible.  We have done yard work, an all night lock-in, a talent show, home groups, weekend retreats, church clean up, painted, prayer walked, delivered flyers, public baptisms in the North Sea, a walk-a-thon, Texas Nights, and so much more. 
My heart connected to the heart of their youth pastor, Terry Young, now the pastor for the last 7 years. Terry’s wife, Anne, works with an organization called Christians Against Poverty (CAP). They help people in extreme debt to become debt free.  The hope of Jesus is consistently presented in a variety of ways throughout the time they are helping the families.  One of those ways is for a group of Texans to come clean their yards/gardens, wash their windows, iron, clean the kitchen, whatever is asked of us.  We do so in the name of Jesus and we have seen multiple families come to know Jesus as a result.  They cannot believe people like CAP are willing to help them, much less people from Texas to pay a lot of money and give up two weeks of their life to come to Middlesbrough.  The Gospel is extravagant!  

Our greatest opportunities have come in the schools.  We speak to the topics the teachers ask of us of course, but we are always able to bring it back to the Gospel.  My team has worked at Archibald primary school with Year 6 students, 10-11 year olds, for 7 of the last 8 years.  They look forward to the Texans coming.  We teach Bible stories, songs, answer questions about life in Texas (no we don’t all ride horses), play games, teach them how to play baseball, and give our testimonies.  This year the students made wikis about us as a writing assignment.  We were asked questions for hours about our lives and faith.  This year, for the first time, we had twelve kids from the school come to Texas Night to have chili, chips and queso, line dance, imitate Texas accents, and hear the Gospel presented.  One girl was able to talk her dad into staying and he heard the Gospel, probably for the first time.  

The students that go on the trip are from a variety of backgrounds and everyone’s story is different.  Every year, each team has the right people for the right needs while we are there.  God has never failed to put our teams together exactly how we need them to be.  Year after year, students desperately want to return because of the relationships and the opportunities for the Gospel to be shared.  We are even beginning to have former team members staying for extended periods of time.  

We consider these important relationships that we have built and continue to sustain in the churches, schools, and communities.  These are not “people over there”; they are our friends for whom we care deeply.   I truly understand the value of new mission opportunities each year for your students, but I have done both now and would tell you building relationships in one place for the long term has incredible value that going to a new place every year cannot achieve.  Over the last eight years I have watched MCC become a Gospel powerhouse in the northeast of England, seen people who wanted nothing to do with the church give their lives to Jesus and sign on to serve him full time, and passionate kids grow into culture affecting young adults.  This is impossible when you are never in the same place twice. 

I would also like to thank Dr. George Loutherback, chaplain for UMHB.   His vision and commitment to keep UMHB students returning to Middlesbrough is amazing.  And thanks also to Jena Coulson, Assistant Director of the UMHB BSM.  Her tireless work on details and planning keeps it all running smoothly year after year.  This mission would not have been able to continue with such great success without them.  I truly am grateful for both of them.  
Trey Bledsoe
Minister to Students 
Canyon Creek Baptist Church
Temple, TX

"When people think about mission trips, they think of cleaning or building or some sort of physical help as an illustration of the gospel. Our trip to Middlesbrough is so much more than that, though. It's about relationships, meaningful conversations, bravery awakening, and purposeful friendship. The trip has caused my American heart to love both the land of the queen and the beautiful people in it. It's opened my eyes to the power of the gospel and the absolute life-changing love of Jesus." – Katelyn Holm (2nd year)

"When I first decided to go on the England Mission trip I did not entirely understand what we would be doing. Once I got there I realized how important and effective it was and is to the community there. This mission trip was not only to help people and share God's love, it was a growing opportunity for ourselves as well. It was Awesome." –Jessica Pitcaithly (first timer)

I've always wanted to go on this trip so badly, the stories people told of what God did on the trip were amazing. When I transferred I immediately said I was going to go. It took almost no time at all for God to move in amazing ways and I knew I was going to go back the instant I met the people of Middlesbrough Community Church. There is a blazing fire for God in that town, and I want to go help the people of MCC spread it everywhere it can go. The people there are doing amazing work for the Kingdom and I want to be a part of it as much as I can. – Dane Kemp (first timer)

England has a special place in my heart because of this mission trip. Building relationships with the MCC community has been both spiritually rewarding and wonderful. Seeing people, who love God completely, reach out and share the Gospel with others is so inspiring. Going on this mission trip you create unforgettable memories with unforgettable people. Each person that our team met has their own story and in hearing them it is clear of how much work God has done, is doing and will do for Middlesbrough, England. It is so exciting to see positive changes and more and more people give their lives to The Lord. -  Katherine Zuraitis (3rd year)