In late November 2012, a twenty member mission team from Charis Bible College Colorado visited two European nations to spread the contagious and almost-too-good-to-be-true-news of Jesus Christ. The team, led by CBC Missions Coordinator, Michelle Patterson, and third-year interns, Josh Moore and Melody Koop, paired their efforts with European Initiative, led by Jeff Serio, as they ministered throughout Hungary and Serbia.
The diversely gifted and flexible CBC team was well prepared to share the love of God with all those they came in contact with, from the poorest of the poor to the seemingly well off. The CBC students were prepared with two evangelistic dramas, a pair of Christmas skits, a puppet show, and games and activities for the children. They had opportunities to minister everywhere they went, from the subway platform to the church platform, to the rubbish heap. A staff member from European Initiative commented that the CBC team even had a high-level skateboarder, who dazzled the kids and adults, drawing big crowds to outreach programs.
One couple from CBC, Chris and Donna Barnard, had the opportunity to participate in the children's ministry programs. Both had served in children's ministry before, and it occurred to Chris that children are children no matter where they are in the world. He said, "They all love to have fun, they all can be very insightful, and they all love candy."
As the Barnards and their team ministered on God’s love, a little boy asked why we can't see God or feel God? Donna asked the boy, “Does your mother hug you? Does your sister hug you?” The little boy said yes. Donna then asked for his permission to give him a hug and said to him, “This, is God hugging you.” A huge smile broke out across the boy's face. At the end of the service when his mother came to pick him up, the little boy ran into Donna’s arms for one more of God’s hugs. "They all responded to the love of God demonstrated through our hugs, our heartfelt words, and warm looks directly into their eyes," said Chris.
Another student, Travis VanMatre, originally viewed his participation on the trip as little more than fulfilling a graduation requirement, another step toward his own full-time ministry. What Travis didn't know was that the trip would change his world perspective and his life. As he passed through security on the way back to the United States, he realized he was not that same as when he left America. God had changed his heart about the world; all of a sudden it wasn’t as big. Travis said, "God showed me that no matter where you go, no matter who you are worshipping with, He is always the same! It was amazing to stand in a church service in Serbia, and then in an evening service in Hungary, and see everyone worshipping with the same passion and zeal. When you are in those moments, there are no language barriers, no cultural differences—everyone is a citizen of Heaven worshipping our Great Love."
According to Michelle, the team ministered on the city streets; worked in churches, teaching and performing dramas; visited gypsy villages, Afghan refugee camps, and met in homes and public schools. "We would do four outreaches per day—this team was incredible," said Michelle.
For a glimpse of the ministry that took place on this trip, be sure to watch the short video recap below.