CORD Online Feature

"Don't forget me:" Union students evangelize in Borneo

Amy Agosto and friends.

Amy Agosto (shown fifth from left), sophomore international rescue and relief major, spoke about Jesus to children ages 12 to 18 while in Borneo for two weeks this summer. Three of them chose to be baptized.

Elique Semaboye (center, back) met an Indonesian movie star while in Borneo. The young man attended Semaboye's talks each night and ultimately gave his life to Christ.

Amy, Dana and friends.

Amy Agosto and Dana Connell, center, traveled to Borneo to speak in an evangelistic series in the city of Balikpapan. Each experienced God's hand in their preaching and cherishes the relationships they built with local young people.

Just before Dana Connell stepped aboard the plane that would take her back home—half-way around the world—a 15-year old Indonesian girl pressed a school photo I.D. card and a hair clip into Dana's hand. "Don't forget me. Don't forget me," she whispered over and over. The young girl, her parents and her two sisters had bonded with Connell through her summer evangelistic work in Borneo. Upon meeting the youngest girl, Connell sent a note with well wishes to the oldest daughter, who had just undergone thyroid surgery. After Connell's note, the whole family attended her meetings; the girls' mother had never come to church before, in spite of nine years of visits by local Adventist church members. "When I left, all three girls and their mother missed school to say goodbye to me at the airport," Connell says. "All of this bloomed from a seemingly insignificant get-well note. God taught me the impact small, outwardly-insignificant acts can have."

Connell, who graduated in May with a degree in theology, was part of a group of six Union College students, led by Professor of Religion Tom Shepherd, who traveled to Borneo July 13-28. They held evangelistic meetings in the city of Balikpapan in the East Kalimantan district of Borneo, an island in southeast Asia. "Borneo was a place where I could see that the gospel actually meant something to people," Connell said. "I wanted to see people get excited about the power of knowing Jesus." The southern and eastern portions of Borneo, which sits southwest of the Philippines, are part of Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world. "When we arrived in Balikpapan after two days of travel we were overwhelmed with the friendly welcome we received," Shepherd said. "A large group of church members came to greet us at the airport. They welcomed us in their churches provided many meals for our team and were gracious hosts."

Each student was assigned a different site and delivered 19 sermons in 16 days. Their Bible presentations were held in rented halls or churches throughout Balikpapan and the surrounding area. "The program was pretty intensive," said Shepherd who led a similar project in Rwanda two years ago.

Elique Semaboye, a sophomore from [trying to get his home country] Africa, held meetings in a rural area outside of Balikpapan. As a theology major, his work in Borneo was a valuable experience for his future as a pastor. He regularly spoke to 75 to 100 visitors in attendance, including four local ministers of another denomination who sat on the front row taking notes. One evening one of these pastors came up to Semaboye after his sermon, encouraging him by saying, "Thank you for telling us the truth." An Indonesian movie star named Johannes also regularly attended Semaboye's evangelistic programs; the two young men soon became friends. One evening after the meeting Johannes took Semaboye aside said that he had been very inspired by Semaboye's sermons. He wanted Semaboye to pray that he would have the strength to give up being a movie star and follow Jesus.

Amy Agosto, a sophomore international rescue and relief major, held meetings for children ages 12 to 18 at the local Adventist school. Many of them were not Christians, and she felt especially called to reach those who had never heard about Jesus before. "The kids were so inspiring to me," said Agosto, who had a fear of public speaking before she began preaching at the meetings. "The little ones were always so cheerful and I could tell they really loved Jesus. Speaking to them helped me to slowly become more comfortable speaking up front."

Agosto also had the opportunity to interact with a young man who is passionate about following Jesus. One of the attendees at her meetings for children was a 17-year-old named Timothy. He was responsible for the program's music, sound system, and anything else he was needed for. Agosto soon noticed that Timothy, a high school senior, was wise beyond his years. He told her, "Amy, I believe that the young people will finish this great work that God has put us to do." Agosto couldn't agree with Timothy more. "We young people have a work to do as a light to this world," she says. "God is preparing young people around the world to be his tools, bringing the gospel to every nation. I am so excited to be an instrument for God."

At the close of the evangelistic trip the group held a mass meeting with all the sites combined at one location; 45 people were baptized. "It is so rewarding to see people respond to the Gospel," Shepherd said. Among those baptized were three of the children Agosto had preached to and interacted with during her evangelistic outreach. "My time in Borneo helped me to depend on God a lot more. I know that God used my preaching to place a seed in the hearts of those kids."

Parent's weekend photos 2007

Students launch VW for inspiration and fellowship

Nichole Scott, sophomore communication major, had considered going to VW several times, but was unsure what the program involved. Then a friend invited her to attend the VW meeting at which Tanya Cochran was the featured speaker. Seeing as Cochran is her boss, former teacher and friend, Scott decided to check it out.

"I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't know if I would like it" Scott said.

First Book receives grant

CORDmagazine online feature: return to CORD

Spreading literacy is the key reason Joann Herrington, associate professor of education, founded Union's local arm of First Book, an international nonprofit organization that gives new books to low income families. Started in 2004, First Book-Union College has distributed thousands of books to local elementary schools and community centers.

Recently, senior teacher candidates from Union's Education department, coordinated a grant proposal resulting in $500 from Verizon Youth Services. With these funds, the literacy advocates celebrated International Book Day at a local elementary school. The party highlighted Asian culture and featured games, books, food and crafts.

"This was a valuable experience for our teacher candidates," Herrington said. "The elementary kids had a ball at Union's First Book event."

Mission to India and Nepal: learning to serve with adaptibility

The group of Union College faculty, students, and alumni traveled 10 hours by bus to enjoy sight-seeing at the Taj Mahal.

Blake releases new book

Chris Blake, Union College English and communications professor, spent a semester on sabbatical last year to write. Pacific Press released his newest book in February, Swimming Against the Current: Living for the God You Love. It is a sequel to his book Searching for a God to Love, which has been translated into four languages.

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