Trip to Asia gives GWU divinity student opportunity to minister and receive blessings
Tryon resident Jaime Fitzgerald participates in immersion experience focused on missions
Jaime Fitzgerald of Tryon, N.C., traveled to Asia this summer with other students from the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. Professor of Missiology Dr. Terry Casiño led the Intercultural Studies Practicum/Mission Immersion experience, a practical course that prepares students to function, live, and work in other cultures.
Visiting the killing fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, left lasting impressions on team members. The historical site is where more than a million people were killed by the communist government from 1975 to 1979. Fitzgerald is still affected by her memories of standing in the prison cells of executed men, women and children.
“Touring Tuol Sleng, the school turned prison, literally made me feel nauseous while feeling and touching the prison cells of innocent Cambodians,” she recalled.
Before visiting Cambodia, students met with religious leaders, toured historical sites and observed life as locals in Australia and New Zealand. They also had stops in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
“The team observed varied expressions of major religious traditions, and learned significant parts of the historical process of missions history that contributed to the beginning and spread of the Christian message across the Asia-Pacific region,” Casiño related. “They also learned some of the major contemporary trends and issues in theologies, ministries, and missions.”
Highlights from the trip included visiting the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, New Zealand, attending sessions of the Revive ’17 Missions Conference and a service at Hillsong Church in Australia, and talking to a group of professors from Morling College while eating kangaroo burgers and steaks. The group also heard from the Rev. Dr. Miyon Chung about her experiences with The Baptist World Alliance and the Global Diaspora Network.
“My worldview was widened, and my respect for cultures other than my own was deepened,” Fitzgerald affirmed. “I was challenged to rethink long held beliefs of varying capacities and nudged toward sharpening and defining what I believe in regards to faith, ethics and missions. Study abroad/mission immersion trips shape and form us as students in various ways and to differing degrees. It’s awesome to me how a group of Gardner-Webb students from many different backgrounds, ages and life experiences can travel together and grow and shape one another in ways deeper than words can explain.”
– submitted by Jackie Bridges