Chi Alpha Campus Ministry at Southeast Missouri State University journeyed to the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, for 10 days in May to work with the Atlanta Dream Center where nine students and their two pastors spent time sharing their faith, reaching out to those in sex trafficking and providing for the homeless.
“We went on this trip because the students had a very strong desire and demand to go on a mission trip,” said Kim Boley, one of the group’s pastors. “They specifically wanted to be pushed outside their comfort zone in the name of serving Jesus and learn how to take what they learned and implement it at SEMO.”
Pastors James Boley and his wife Kim who led the trip May 21-31 were involved in Chi Alpha at their alma mater, Missouri State University. They started the organization at Southeast in 2013. This was the organization’s first mission trip.
The students who participated were Blessy Joseph of Sri Lanka; Laura Bauman of Festus, Missouri; Savanna Halfaker of Sullivan, Missouri; Katy Spero of Des Plains, Illinois; Ty’Anna Waters of Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Morgan White of Perryville, Missouri; Jacqueline Richardet of Perryville, Missouri; Jake Rankin of St. Louis, Missouri; and Josh Bailey of Farmington, Missouri.
Chi Alpha worked with the Atlanta Dream Center whose vision is to reach, rescue and restore men, women and children. The center has three major programs: iAM for men, Out of Darkness for women and MetroKidz for children. Through the organization, there are various ways to help such as rescuing women wanting to leave prostitution and taking them to safe houses or rehabilitation programs; providing meals and clothes to the homeless; and spending time with children in after-school programs.
“The atmosphere of love that the Dream Center has is different than what I’ve seen, and it has taught me how to love all people better” and “that God can use very ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” Rankin said.
The ministry specifically helps with a homeless shelter that serves 700 men each night. The Southeast students wiped and scrubbed the beds and prayed over them while they were there. Additionally, they reached out to women caught in sex trafficking by offering them a rose with a card that had an uplifting message and the Dream Center’s hotline number.
“Reaching out, we had to be very careful. A lot, or all, of these women are being watched very carefully,” Kim said. “If we have the opportunity to talk to them, we do. We offer prayer as well and just try to let them know they are not judged and that someone does care about them and loves them.”
Several students expressed gratitude in how much they learned and grew through their experiences on the mission trip.
“I learned how universal love is. We may not look the same, act the same, speak the same language, or be in the same place in life, but we all have one thing in common: we need love. We need love from other people, but more than anything, we need love from our Savior,” Halfaker said. “And loving people is so simple. Making people smile is so simple. Showing God’s love for this world is never a bad idea and will never be a choice that we regret.”
Kim says everyone was able to learn how simple and important it is to love others. She says students enjoyed the trip and want to return there in the future to help again.
“I loved the trip and the Dream Center. I have an even larger passion and motivation for going back to my family, friends and SEMO and changing lives through Christ,” Richardet said. “Next semester will hopefully look way different than before because of the love, genuineness and service that is growing in our friendships and lives.”