The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

June 4, 2013

Pleasant Grove prepares for trip to Ecuador

By Kendall Atkins

Monday, June 3, 2013 — Individuals of all ages from all over the world will be traveling on a mission trip to Quito, Ecuador in June.

The International World Changers is an organization that partners with Southern Baptist missionaries from all over the world to give individuals the opportunity to experience a very hands-on mission trip and impact lives spiritually, mentally and physically.

About 100 people from all over the United States will travel together to Ecuador to minister to individuals of all ages through music, sports, Bible studies and more.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Oakboro is sponsoring nine people, known as the Team Ecuador–Radiate group, from Stanly County who will be traveling to the country June 21-28.

Team leader Abby Smith also went on the trip to Ecuador last year and really enjoyed the experience.

“We partner with churches, about 10 churches locally in Quito, and they host us and we do what they need and we serve the area and share the gospel with all the kids and adults we come in contact with,” Smith said.

Smith said they host vacation Bible schools, block parties and revivals. Last year, the focus was on the book of Acts.  

“When you put the Bible into storytelling, it’s easier to witness and share the love of God with people,” she said.

This year’s trip costs $2,100 per person. All fees have already been paid, as they are due usually a month in advance. Smith said that trip participants really depend on fundraisers and donations from family members and friends.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church had a chili cook-off and a bake auction back in January as fundraiser, and they had a barbecue which raised nearly $6,000.

As team leader, Smith has monthly meetings for those going on the trip. During the meetings, participants usually do devotionals together and read information packets, provided by International World Changers, to prepare everyone mentally and spiritually for what they’ll be doing in Quito.

Smith also went to Romania with Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in 2011 and said that mission trips are an annual event for Pleasant Grove.

Smith said although she is a member of Pleasant Grove, one does not have to be to go on the trip, as the church is simply a sponsor. Those interested in possibly going next year can sign up to go through Pleasant Grove.

Smith said she has seen individuals whose ages range from teens to adults to retirees be a part of the rewarding experience.

“You gain so much respect as far as living in a country where anything is reachable. It shows you how thankful you are for what we have and puts you in a place of not being so selfish,” she said.

“You’re more selfless there and giving and you see God moving. What I take from it is God shaping you into who you want to be.

“It’s important for you to know that God created the world and it’s about serving your community, it’s about serving your neighbors, but it’s the fact that God created everyone and it’s important and it’s a command from Him that we serve all nations and not just stand still. We gotta move and do it.”

Kendall Atkins is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.