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On To Africa

Marla Cantwell recently returned from an overseas missions trip to South Africa and shared some her experiences with Owen Wilkie, the Web editor with AGWM.

AGWM: What led you to consider a missions trip? 

Marla: I was studying one night on the Evangel University campus this past August and happened to mention to a friend that I would like to go on a missions trip someday. Prior to that, I'd never had any desire to take a missions trip - ever! I would lead worship, sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, clean the church kitchen, but missions trips were for those who were "called" - certainly not me.

When I began an Old Testament class at Evangel last October, the Lord really began speaking to me. As I studied about the Israelites and their exodus from Egypt, I noticed how often they whined and complained throughout the journey - even though they were being delivered. Then I began to notice how much I whined and complained about my life. I sensed in my spirit that I needed to take a missions trip to see real need. Within a few weeks, I heard that a group of Evangel University business students were taking a missions trip to South Africa during Christmas break. In short, the Lord took me from desire - to need - to "I'm going" - within a few short months.

AGWM: What steps did you take to go on the trip?

Marla: When I learned about the trip, I contacted Elizabeth Fletcher, director of Evangel's Business Department, on Friday, November 9. She gave me all the trip details and said the trip would cost $3,200. She said it wasn't too late to sign up but that I needed to pay the $1,700 airfare by Monday, November 12. Where was I going to get $1,700 in three days? Then I remembered that my dad had told my sisters and me earlier in the year that he hoped to give each of his children a year-end gift. Could I be so bold as to call my dad and ask if he was still planning that? If so, how much would the gift be, and could I have it now? I called him! Not only did he say "yes," he made the one-hour trip from his home in Ava, Missouri, to deliver the check. I paid the airfare on time and had one month to raise the remaining $1,500. I also needed to get my passport and have several shots. The Lord was faithful. I received my passport seven days after I applied, got the shots at no charge and raised every single penny of the required amount.

tent revivalAGWM: When and where did you go?

Marla: Our team traveled December 30, 2007 - January 11, 2008, to South Africa. The majority of our time was spent in Pretoria, Rustenburg and nearby villages. I went with nine other members of Evangel University's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and three Evangel faculty mentors.

AGWM: What was the purpose of your visit?

Marla: We went to teach economic and hygiene principles and help an orphanage by installing a water purification system. We also attended business presentations and training, and distributed Book of Hope to villages near Rustenburg.

AGWM: What was the highlight of your trip?

Marla: I enjoyed loving on the little ones at the orphanage and distributing Book of Hope.

AGWM: What do you think you and your group accomplished as you ministered to people? 

Marla: I believe with all my heart that we instilled hope in many that felt hopeless. People were touched by realizing that others cared. I know that sharing the gospel by distributing Book of Hope to African children will impact them the rest of their lives.

AGWM: What did you personally gain from the trip?

Marla: My life is changed forever. I am not the same person I was just a few short weeks ago. It is on my heart to return to South Africa someday and teach English. I also finally realize and accept that I have worth and value in the Kingdom - something I struggled with for years.

AGWM: Do you plan to take other missions trips?

Marla: Absolutely! I can think of no better way to spend my vacation time.

AGWM: What advice would you give to people contemplating taking a missions trip?

Marla: Step out of any fear that may be holding you back. Trust God and know that He can use anybody - we all have talents and God-given gifts.

Marla Cantwell is an instructor at Ozark Technical College in Springfield, Missouri.

If you or your church is interested in arranging an overseas missions trip, visit for more information. Or call 1.417.862.2781, extension 2096.





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