Commission Unto Mexico: Guadalajara

Every year when the fall semester is over, students, faculty and people of the community embark together on a mission trip to Mexico. In past years they have visited the city of Monterrey, however, this year was their first year to go to Guadalajara.

With a history that goes back eleven years, Commission Unto Mexico has provided students with lifetime experiences in cross-cultural missionary work as well as helping churches in building projects and medical assistance.

"You are touched just as much as you touch others, you receive as much as you give," Rhesa Gilbert, senior nursing student, said.

Commission unto Mexico started in 1989 as a vision that Dr. Loren Gresham had for the university to encourage students to participate in missions. Since then, Dr. Howard Culbertson and Dr. Dee Kelley have been organizing and working together to make this trip happen.

"The purpose of this event is to experience cross cultural missionary living and help others," Culbertson said. "Our goal on the other end is to help our Mexican brothers and sisters in whatever ways they need help, particularly in the area of construction and medical outreach."

Nursing and Pre-Med students are encouraged to go on this trip where they have the opportunity to serve the needy while providing free medical assistance and supplying medicine.

"I'm planning to work in missions when I graduate so this was a great opportunity to learn about a different culture and their health system," Gilbert said. "I was inspired by Jorge Cordoba, a pastor and doctor who has given his whole life to helping these people."

This experience provides students with the opportunity to minister on a different level.

"I ask that you try to see the people through the eyes of Jesus in terms of lost people," Culbertson said. "I want you to come home with a vision for world evangelism and not just a sense of rich and poor."

The students who went to Guadalajara were very moved by their experience. They were able to make connections with the people there as they helped to administer to them medically and, in doing so, we able to minister to them as well.

"We took in a homeless boy, Javier, and helped him out. We showered him and bought him clothes, and treated his wounds. We were planting a seed in the life of a little child. The great need I saw there just tore my heart," Gilbert said.

"I will never forget the people of Bellavista, Mexico, especially all of the children we helped during our clinical visits," Michael Herring, senior nursing student, said.

There has been a lot of work done lately to promote an interest in cross-cultural ministry with the students at SNU. There are several different programs that offer different types of ministry opportunities.

"There is a high degree of interest, especially in the shorter term things like Commission unto Mexico," Culbertson said. "We have a good missions culture going here. I think a lot of students are excited about it, there's just a hesitancy to jump in."

Commission unto Mexico is an opportunity for those who are thinking about going on a mission trip for the first time and who have very little ministry experience.

"It was the first time I had taken a missions trip outside of the country. I feel that Commission unto Mexico is a good experience for those who want to do short term missions work," Herring said.

In preparing students for a life of service and missions, Culbertson talked about a "one-two-one" plan. This plan includes one week of missions, two months, and then one year of service. The first "one" of the plan is a one-week mission trip like Commission unto Mexico.

"Commission unto Mexico is designed to give students a short work and witness trip of one week. Then we work with Nazarene Headquarters to give students a two month summer long missions trip overseas. Finally, there is a year-long volunteer ministry experience. Youth in Mission draws a lot of applicants. But we have the fewest students applying for the year-long ministry," Culbertson said.

For some, the financial aspect appears to be a burden. Due to the fact that mission trips are mostly self-funded, some students are hesitant to apply. Still a great number of students find the means to enroll and go on these trips.

"Students haven't explored the fact that people in local churches want to help: people get excited about young people giving of themselves," Culbertson said. "If a young person can get people praying and can create a network of people, the money will show up."

There is another trip to Mexico scheduled this year. The invitation is open to all who feel called to minister to homeless children, the sick and needy and simply have an interest in missionary work. Information can be obtained through Dr. Culbertson, but deadlines are soon approaching. Compared to other opportunities, this is one of the most economical work and witness trips available.