By Hannah Moody
It’s sometimes referred to as the “overseas RA summer position.” But leading a GO (Global Outreach) team involves far more preparation than most of the campus sees. Maybe because the majority of their work takes place before a large portion of the student body wakes up.
The application process begins with the SLS (Servant Leadership Staff) application and the informational meeting held in April of the spring semester.
“It was never a question of if; it was when,” said TMC student Kristen Botteron. She had served the previous summer with Team India and is now working as an intern for Lisa LaGeorge. Her plan is to be a missionary. This summer she and her co-leader, Daniel Peck, are going to Bangladesh for six weeks and are one of the two medical missions teams this summer.
Gage Garcia’s plans weren’t quite so set.
“My thought process was more to put myself out there to fill a need if they needed someone,” he said. Garcia’s eagerness is apparent from his first introduction, and so is his genuine warmth and care for people.
“I wanted to use the skills that God gave me. I thought that I was on a level that I could lead others younger than I,” Garcia said. Garcia started out the semester with plans to lead a team to India. Due to scheduling conflicts, those plans have changed.
After applications are submitted, candidates interview with LaGeorge. Most she has handpicked and asked to apply. Others apply cold turkey.
“She really wants to get to know you and your strengths and your weaknesses, what you struggle with,” Garcia said.
Once the GO teams have been selected, their work starts in the summer. They meet with their pastor or discipler and talk through their strengths and weakness. They get a friend to help them with a character assessment. They read through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
“It gives you a chance to look inside first instead of preparing for your trip right away,” Botteron said.
The 6 a.m. meetings start in the fall. After the coffee, there is breakfast. These breakfasts are famous around campus.
“You never know whether it’s good or not,” Garcia said. Sometimes Chinese, sometimes Mediterranean, sometimes something that would never otherwise be seen at breakfast.
“I guess what she’s trying to teach us in those meetings is that whatever is put in front of you, you have to eat it and be thankful for what God provided that day,” Garcia said.
The training extends from the practical—how to keep in contact with missionaries—to the philosophical: qualities of a leader. In the spring semester, things get really practical, and crazy.
“It’s a lot more day-to-day work: putting together prayer cards, organizing a photo for your prayer cards, managing passports, etc.” Botteron said.
Meetings are now every Tuesday night in the form of GO class. It covers everything from the theology of missions to how to pack your suitcase correctly. Then there is team building time and fund-raising and retreat weekend. These people are excited and they are dedicated. Still, no one really knows what they do until it hits Global Mobilization week.
“There’s a buzz. It’s really fun to kind of do the big reveal to the campus and have everyone come up and feel like the campus is involved in your team—when before it was just you and your co leader,” Botteron said.
A bazaar-like atmosphere filled North Campus as 11 tables lined the center plaza between the Biblical Studies Building and the Music Recital Hall.
The news broke: who was going where and what they were doing. Each table was unique to the country. Beka Jackson and Patrick Ingoldsby decorated their table with cocoa beans and bananas and were serving free hot chocolate at the Ecuador table. The campus had met GO and all the hard work the leaders were putting into it started to become tangible and in the form of team members. But it was also a unique time in other ways.
“For me, getting to talk to TWR (Trans World Radio) was the highlight of my week. They have a really neat ministry involving radio and it looks like something I want to do with my life,” Chris Cummings said. Cummings, along with Kate James, is leading a team to Alaska to work in a camp ministry. Being apart of this ministry connected Cummings to a future career possibility.
It is an understatement to describe GO as a sort of summer RA position. Their work starts in April and won’t finish until the July of the following year. Most of it goes unrecognized and a large portion falls under the nitty-gritty of keeping track of passports and papers.
They are preparing to lead in a country foreign to them and their teams and with people they have never talked with face to face. But the reward of being apart of God’s plan makes it worth it.
“Even if it’s just doing administrative stuff, I’m helping the gospel go forth,” Botteron said. “It’s a small job, but it’s awesome. I love it.”
Hannah Moody is a TMC communications major.