While most college students were using their Spring Break to relax, get away or bask in the sun, Bluefield College students were serving, working and fulfilling a call on mission in Italy, March 5-12.
As part of the school’s efforts to support the ministry of Virginia Baptists and the International Mission Board, 10 Bluefield College students participated in the spring mission, designed to give them an opportunity to experience a different culture, while fulfilling the Great Commission.
“We wanted this to be an opportunity for our students to step out of their comfort zones,” said BC’s Kelly Somers, director of residence life. “They did, and they really grew in confidence and in their ability to share the Gospel, even with those who didn’t even speak the same language.”
The students spent nearly a week in Italy, primarily in Naples, leading street ministry projects, completing prayer walks, and conducting street evangelism.
“Italy was an incredible experience in every aspect,” said senior Emily Wingfield from Gloucester, Virginia. “The culture is rich, and the people are beautiful. It warmed my heart to be able to worship alongside fellow believers from different languages and cultures. It’s a glimpse of what Heaven will be like.”
Working with missionaries and journeymen who are employed with the International Mission Board, the BC students also led a praise and worship service in the city square and attended a Gospel concert and evening church service. In fact, during the praise in the piazza, five locals made professions of faith.
“There were so many memorable experiences,” said Somers. “The most moving was watching the Italian believers lead a new brother in Christ in the salvation prayer. The man played the accordion on the streets. He heard our singing, and it got his attention, and the Italians were able to witness to him and lead him to Christ.”
The BC students not only shared the Gospel, but also experienced the history and culture of Italy with a trip to the Spine of Naples, the second oldest Baptistery; the Church of the Dead; the Pozzuoli shore where the Apostle Paul landed on his journey to Rome; Christmas Avenue, the site of the first Nativity scene; and Sorbillo’s, a 200-year-old pizzeria.
“It was amazing to see and be in such Biblically historical cities,” said Somers, “knowing you were walking in the same footprints as Paul and Peter.”
As part of the cultural experience, the students also visited Rome, where they toured the Colosseum, ancient ruins, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, St. Peters Square, and St. Peters Basilica.
“It was neat to see how our students wanted to bring back what they learned in Italy, back to the states, back to Bluefield,” said Somers. “They came home with a desire to be as bold in their faith in America as they were in Italy.”
Joining Wingfield and Somers on the mission to Italy were BC Campus Minister David Taylor and students Julia Austin of Rockville, Virginia; Shannon Denton of Tazewell, Virginia; Dawnn Fletcher of Locust Grove, Virginia; Rae Linkous of North Tazewell, Virginia; Cortney Pattison of Radford, Virginia; Kristen Slade of North Tazewell, Virginia; J.D. Taylor of Bluefield, Virginia; Katie Warren of Princeton, West Virginia; and Summer Wilding of Sandusky, Ohio.