With a long history of preparing students for missionary service, Simpson University relaunched a student-led missions program 25 years ago. The program continues today as WorldSERVE, which describes itself as taking students on a yearlong discipleship journey that includes a short-term service trip.
By Hayley Wylie
REDDING, Calif.–Simpson University WorldSERVE students hosted their annual Celebration Night recently to share the adventures of their student-led mission trips during spring and summer breaks.
Nearly 30 students participated on trips to Thailand, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, and Chicago. Students served in a variety of ways, including working in youth centers, mentoring young people, helping with medical missions, and more.
On Sept. 19, they gathered in LaBaume-Rudat Hall to worship, share, and listen. A student from each team shared a testimony from their trip.
The first to speak was Autumn McCuller, a nursing student who went with other nursing majors to India. The trip involved medical missions work. Students were able to work at clinics and provide service to many people, as well as share the gospel.
One day out of the six-week-long trip, they served at a small community three hours from where they were staying.
“There were 300 people in six hours in a church no bigger than a garden shed,” McCuller said. “God is in India.”
The next to speak was Sarah Stoddard from Team Philippines. Stoddard shared that missions had been placed on her heart, but she was unsure what to expect from the trip.
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she said.
Their trip dealt with relationship ministry, and the team worked hard to connect with other college students in Manila. “We loved on them. We taught them who Jesus is through our actions, through our love,” Stoddard said.
She also revealed that she still keeps in contact with the people she met in the Philippines.
“I still talk to them. This is a lifelong relationship that I now have,” Stoddard said.
Next was Caleigh Roberts representing Team Thailand, whose focus was coffee shop ministry. They would often go to the same coffee shop and build relationships with people.
Roberts mentioned doing a prayer walk through a red-light district on one night of their trip. “It was so strange to feel Jesus in a place that I thought Jesus would never be,” she said.
Although going to Thailand wasn’t her original plan, she shared that she was happy she went. “God had a different plan. His plan is always better,” Roberts said.
Roberts encouraged other students to go in the future. “I know this makes a difference because it’s making a difference in me,” she said.
Annie Christopherson from Team Taiwan shared that she felt called to be a part of WorldSERVE.
“If God calls me to go, I’m gonna go,” Christopherson said. She shared that there were difficulties before going to Taiwan, but she believes, “God always makes a way.”
Overall, she described the experience as a positive one. “I didn’t know I could grow even more in God in just three weeks,” Christopherson said.
The last testimony shared for the night was by Bigane Perez from Team Chicago. The team worked for an afterschool program during spring break last semester. Perez said she was skeptical of the trip at first but ultimately ended up following the calling she felt from God.
“I have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” Perez said, sharing that she enjoyed her trip.
At the end of the night, Samantha Ulnik, a WorldSERVE intern, announced that WorldSERVE is planning on going back to Thailand, Taiwan, Chicago, possibly Mexico, and other places to be announced later.
Ulnik also revealed this year’s WorldSERVE theme, from Esther 4:14: “Perhaps you have been chosen for a time like this.” She encouraged Simpson University students to consider participating in WorldSERVE this year. “God is inviting you to something big,” she said.
Learn more about the WorldSERVE student missions program at simpsonu.edu/worldserve.
About the author: Hayley Wylie is an English major in her senior year at Simpson University. She is from Vacaville, Calif., and is editor-in-chief of The Slate, the university’s student newspaper.
Photos by Chyna Xiong
Simpson University, founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 8-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally by Colleges of Distinction.
Simpson is launching new athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements, and it is offering new scholarships.