In addition to being an education institution, Patrick Henry College is also a Christian organization. That means that from the classes to the dorm life, Patrick Henry College seeks to put Christ and his Word before all else. It’s the foundational and guiding principle the school was built on. That’s why—even as a center of learning—Patrick Henry College believes that Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations applies to its student body. And while providing a good education is the primary focus of the school, the leadership at Patrick Henry College wants to make opportunities available that would encourage students to live out that mission.
There’s a number of different ways to encourage students to live out the Great Commission. And of course, the school always encourages the mission through channels like wing chapel, chapel, and Faith and Reason. But on a larger scale, the school offers international missions trips to students that are willing to set aside time and resources to put their words into action. These opportunities give students the chance to get first-hand experience on what ministry requires and what it looks like. Moreover, it impresses upon them the desperate need of the Gospel in less fortunate countries.
It’s an experience, and understanding, and a context that’s sorely needed today. No one knows this better than Jack Haye, the president of Patrick Henry College. He states:
Our mission at Patrick Henry College is to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders who will faithfully lead in their homes, their communities, in the marketplace, in prominent positions of public service on both state and national stages. Leaders who understand that we are to live on mission; to be active participants in God’s story of redemption all around us – at the grocery, at the office, at church, on Capitol Hill, in Greece and Honduras as well as in our hometown.”
The Our mission at Patrick Henry College is to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders was designed to impact the United States. But the reality is that the Gospel is needed everywhere. These trips help students realize that the church, as a whole, operates together on a level that defies boundaries, divisions, and borders.
In the past, Patrick Henry College has made repeat visits to Honduras and Greece.
In Honduras, located in Central America, students from Patrick Henry College partnered with World Gospel Outreach. This non-denominational organization affirms the mission of the Gospel and attempts to bring the good news to impoverished communities through local churches. They do this by providing certain services at these points of outreach. In the case of Patrick Henry College’s 2017 spring mission’s trip, students from PHC used the connections of World Gospel Outreach to bring medical supplies and attention to local families in need. Many impoverished families lack the resources to visit a dentist or treat infections. That’s why with small, dedicated clinics WGO seeks to make individual impacts by treating people with the help they would be unable to otherwise find or afford.
For the students from Patrick Henry College team, their time in Honduras proved an educational experience. Elias Gavilan, a Rising senior at Patrick Henry College, described his time on the trip this way:
“My trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras was an eye-opening experience. It provided me with the opportunity to immerse myself in a foreign culture and lifestyle for a week. Additionally, it offered me a new perspective on poverty and the effects of living in poverty. More importantly, this trip helped me in my own walk with God. It was truly amazing witnessing strong believers who lived in such challenging conditions. Talking to both translators and the patients that we helped, I heard a number of amazing stories and testimonies. I was truly blessed by this experience, and I will carry the lessons that I learned in Honduras with me for the rest of my life.”
Greece has seen a lot of tragedy in the last few years. In an area plagued with distress, illness, poverty, and violence, the people of Greece have witnessed impoverished and needy refugees flee from both Syria and Afghanistan. The sad reality of these situations, however, is that they look for a new life and often find a dead end. Without the tools to improve their living situations, many refugees make the most of squatting in buildings and living off the street.
These are pretty discouraging circumstances.
Students at Patrick Henry College understand thatthese are people created in God’s image. And they need help. Here’s what alumni Matthew Hoke had to say about his time in Greece:
“’Are people half way across the world still people?’ Although it is a pretty basic question, the trip that I attended over Spring Break to Athens gave me my answer. On an intellectual level, I believed that all people are the same. After all, we are all created in the image of God. But, seeing children from Afghanistan and Syria up close helped me realize that what I believed divided us, our faiths, did not result in these Muslim children being much different than American kids I had served in Sunday school. Being there cut through a lot of the political rhetoric and fog that clouds the refugee crisis. I realized that these are real people with the same real needs that anyone in the West feels. But, above all, I saw people who needed the hope of Jesus. The time that we spent with these people bringing them that hope was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. If you have the opportunity, you should go on a mission’s trip. If you are a follower of Christ, going will broaden your horizons, soften your heart, and strengthen your faith.”
Part of a good education is having a realistic sense of what the world looks like. There’s a lot of brokenness on our blue planet. As seen in Honduras, there are people who cannot get access to the medical attention they desperately need. As seen in Greece there are circumstances which demean the image of God with poverty and want. Our world is ugly—but it’s still our world. Students at Patrick Henry College need to understand that without a perspective good, it’s difficult to remember that there’s more to this world that brokenness. But without a context of how far the brokenness extends and the need that it creates, there will be no urgency for a solution.
These mission trips provide students at Patrick Henry College a better idea of the real needs in the world, giving them the opportunity to directly address them in some tangible way.