Posted on : Tuesday August 26, 2014

By Shannon Baker, BaptistLIFE National Correspondent

TOWSON, Md.—Avrielle Jones has always wanted to be a teacher. A senior at Towson University majoring in deaf studies and elementary education, she is learning all types of skills toward that aim.Avrielle teaches

But two summer mission trips have taught her the greatest lessons so far.

“God showed me how big He really is,” shared Jones, who traveled this summer to Battambang, Cambodia, to teach English and to share Christ with villagers.

Jones and her fellow college students, led by Campus Minister Mike McQuitty, led camps at different sites across the northwestern Cambodian region. McQuitty is a missionary for collegiate church planting for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network/BCMD.

The camps were somewhat similar to VBS in that team members would share stories, sing songs, lead games, and share snacks, Jones said. Though many of the sites were Christian-based, many were not.

The people, many who were culturally Buddhist, were very welcoming because they wanted to practice English with native speakers, Jones said, explaining this paved the way to share the gospel.

“We taught about colors and family relationships before teaching about Noah and the flood,” Jones explained. “The English vocabulary helped give context for the Bible story, and allowed for more reiteration of concepts.”

But God used something even better to explain the concepts.

“What was even more amazing that day, was that it poured rain! Being rainy season, it was expected,” Jones shared. “But on that specific day, God put a rainbow—’antenou’ in Khmer—in the sky! It was such a wonderful reminder and encouragement.”

Jones, who also went to Cambodia last summer, said she is very thankful for the way God has encouraged her through this experience. “This experience along with continuous teachings from the Lord, have shown me that being a Christian leader isn’t about me as an individual at all,” Jones acknowledged. “I am working WITH the body of Christ to create more leaders, not just a crowd of followers.”

Being a “returner,” she knew to expect the long hot days of teaching English and Bible stories. But the one thing she didn’t expect this year was for some of the kids to remember her by name.

“It just warmed my heart to hear them call me ‘Masa’ (the Khmer word for ‘April/Avrielle’) and run up for hugs!” she said, explaining the principal’s daughter, who was in her class last year, even cried and skipped school because she wanted to be there when Jones arrived.

“We were only with them three days last year and kept in touch through Facebook, but it was amazing too see how much of an impact was made,” she said.

“I have built really strong relationships with the people and students there. I would love to teach English as a long-term missionary if the opportunity arises/God gives the okay!” Jones said. “The two trips have really opened my heart to children who do not have access to education, but more importantly, the Word of God. He gives us an incredible hope, and it is amazing to see how lives can be transformed.”

This trip, the third summer in a row, was led through Towson’s Baptist Campus Ministry, which has partnered with DJD Cambodia Ministries (based out of Fort Worth, Texas). The DJD stands for “Doungjet, Jaung, Daiy,” which translated are “heart, legs, hands.”