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Bahamas Break

By Grayson Baird, Aug 14, 2014
"You're going the wrong way!” was yelled at our mission trip team while walking through the ghetto of Nassau en route to our service site. The Bahamians driving by in the car were being very helpful to whom they presumed to be silly white spring breakers heading in the wrong direction.

“No we're not!” was our loud response to them as they sped by us. The natives knew that the tourist spots were in the opposite direction we were heading, and so did we! This was not the usual spring break trip for these high school seniors.

A common comment before we left on our trip was, “You're going where on a mission trip?” The Bahamas isn't most known for its crime rate or poverty but for its beautiful beaches and famous hotels. But there is more to the island than the luxury most tourists see.

Our team left DFW for Nassau for a week of service as we partnered with the local St. Andrew's Presbyterian Kirk. The Kirk is a historical church that hosted our team for our first five days. We got to worship with their congregation our first Sunday in town. What an encouragement to our souls that time was! The Kirk's pastor, Bryn MacPhail, spoke about joy that can come only from Christ. That sermon was spiritual food to keep us nourished throughout our week of service.

Fiercely loving children
During our mornings, we would walk to a local neighborhood, Bain and Grants Town, and paint and clean a Red Cross Community Center. This center is lead by a God-fearing, faithful, hard-working woman, Mrs. Bullard, whom we got to know deeply during our mission trip. She fiercely loves the children that come through the doors of her center. She longs to see them become mature, godly young men and women. Mrs. Bullard was such an example of steadfastness to us through a family tragedy that occurred while we were there. God remained her anchor in the midst of extreme sadness.

Our afternoons were spent playing basketball, running around, kids jumping on our backs, having our hair played with, singing songs, dancing, smiling, and laughing with beautiful Bahamian children. These kids typically come to the Red Cross Center after school for programs with Mrs. Bullard. We got to put on a VBS over the four days we spent with the children. Crafts, songs, games, and lesson were our “projected” goal. We soon figured out that these kids didn't want to just sit and hear our lessons. They wanted us to hold their hands, give them hugs, repeat that we loved them. They simply wanted to be shown love. We gladly obliged!

We went with the expectation of painting and cleaning. We went with the expectation of meeting some wonderful kids with whom we hoped to share the Gospel. We went with the expectation of going to a beautiful island. We left with joy that filled us up—joy from receiving a sweet gift from a child that has very little, joy from the biggest grins as the kids came running to see us, joy from a child's thankful contentedness with the little they have, joy from a grieving woman's tears, knowing that her God is bigger and stronger. We left with a filling joy from taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing them on our Lord and Savior and the work that is happening in the Bahamas.

Worshipping, joyful teens
One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we could debrief and worship freely. We would close our days debriefing as a team. “How did you see God move in and through you,” was a frequently asked question coming out of Brent Baker's mouth. We would spend time sharing story after story of the goodness, faithfulness, and the love of God. We would close in song and often keep asking for more songs. Our team didn't want to stop! These kids wanted to sing praise to our Lord and Savior all night if they could have! They were worshipping freely and fiercely. It was such a beautiful sight to behold.

So why the Bahamas? PCPC youth already have many service opportunities available locally, statewide, and internationally. Why add another trip? It was because this specific trip was born from a group of high school seniors who desired to use their last high school spring break doing something for others. This trip was added to our already seemingly full plate because these students wanted to go! How could we say no!

As a senior wonderfully put, “The lux, the glamour, the hotels—that isn't the real Bahamas. The people are the real Bahamas.”

Our team returned with deep relationships. We also returned knowing Kingdom work is happening in the country of the Bahamas. The churches there long to see their pews and buildings full. Our team also returned wanting to go back!


Republished by permission, Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX, www.pcpc.org.
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