March 23, 2015 | 1 p.m.
By Monique Kleinhuizen, Communications Strategist
Hundreds of Bethel students boarded buses and planes for athletic, ministry, and music trips across the country and around the world over spring break.
Nearly 100 students traveled to Appalachia, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, New Orleans, and Chicago for Solidarity Missions Partnerships (SMP), organized by the Office of Campus Ministries.
“In Jeremiah 29:13, God says through the prophet, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,’” says Campus Pastor Matt Runion. “Over and over again, I see these mission trips giving students the opportunity to be stripped of what is familiar in their life, apply what God has given them, and end up seeking God with all their heart,” he says. Runion notes that over the past four years, there has been an increase in students participating in international mission trips. Each student undergoes an application, interview, and selection process, followed by team-building and training. The trips provide cultural and spiritual experiences that can’t happen at Bethel.
“There’s a deep hunger among Bethel students to serve the Church around the world. These trips provide a unique opportunity for students to develop a real experience of participating with what God is doing in a place that is very likely much different from their home culture,” says Runion. “They meet larger-than-life pastors and dynamic church ministries using scarce budgets and producing abundant spiritual fruit. They see people making first time decisions to follow Christ. They give their own testimony. They encounter spirit-filled worship. They pray and see miracles happen. These trips—both domestic and international—are immeasurably powerful engagements and experiences for our students.”
Bethel’s Department of Music also hit the road in March. The Bethel Chamber Orchestra toured the Pacific Northwest, including sites in Oregon and Washington. The Bethel Choir performed in the Midwest, including Rochester and Edina, Minnesota; the Chicago area; and Madison, Wisconsin. The Women’s Chorale is on tour this week in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota.
“There are musical concepts that you can only learn during live performance and from multiple performances of the same music,” says Department of Music Chair Jon Veenker. A fresh audience each night—and performing in diverse venues—is invaluable for the ensembles, who return to campus this week for final home performances.
“We ultimately perform for the glory of God wherever we are, and we never want to skip over or water down the ministry aspect of touring,” says Veenker. He also noted the strong community created when ensembles travel together for several days. Traveling builds the wider Bethel community as well, he says, with Bethel alumni and donors and partner churches enjoying concerts and athletic events near their homes across the country.
Over 150 student-athletes traveled with Bethel baseball, softball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, and track and field teams. They competed in locations across the country, from Fort Myers, Florida—where the Royals baseball team played the Twins Rookie Team—to California—where Bethel’s golf and track and field teams enjoyed workouts and meets in 70-degree weather.
“Spring trips allow our sport teams to continue the pursuit of competitive excellence and provide a platform for transformation among our student-athletes,” says Athletic Director Bob Bjorklund. “Coaches and athletes spend intentional time for longer periods, which helps foster personal and athletic growth."
For a round-up of spring sports and remaining events in Minnesota, visit the Bethel athletic website.