Corey Rhoades served as one of the adult leaders for this year’s Birmingham Plunge trip, and in the spring he will serve as an adult leader for the Nicaragua Casas por Cristo trip. Today, Corey is sharing with us how his past work on Mission has shaped his mindset. Corey’s missions testimony encourages us to question our place in God’s story.
“Growing up in Southern California, just a couple hours drive away from Mexico, I was always involved in short-term, international mission trips. At least three times a year, I traveled with my church family to serve at an orphanage in Ensenada or to build a house with my youth group in San Felipe. These were formative years, in which I developed a love for the Spanish language, which would eventually become my college major.
As a teenager, it was easy to neglect the reasons why we went on these trips. Mostly, I saw it as a road trip with my best friends. But my youth minister made us write essays before every summer Mexico trip—yes, written essays like in school, but this time not for a grade! And after much whining and complaining to our parents, we all begrudgingly complied. Only in retrospect do I appreciate the motives behind those dreaded essays. It compelled us to ask questions: Why are we going? Who are we helping? Are we actually helping? These essays forced us to contemplate our own blessings and privileges as citizens of the U.S., to discern our individual gifts and skills that we contribute to the team, and to wrestle through our relationship with God.
These essays were a start, but college forced me to ask even more questions. What do I want to do with my life? How can I make a positive impact on the world? Does my career fit into all this? Additional opportunities to study abroad and participate in short-term mission trips led me to Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I began to realize that Mexico is just one small part of the greater panoply of countries that make up Latin America. As I worked toward fluency in Spanish, I began to wonder what the point was. Every new place I traveled was like discovering and opening another can of worms. How could I, just one person, possibly make a difference?
During Spring Break 2020, I will be leading a group of Belmont students to Nicaragua to build a house with Casas Por Cristo. It will be yet another small attempt to help a family in need—another house that will not reverse cycles of poverty, not displace corrupt government leaders, and not make much of any difference in the scope of world history. But I still believe this trip will be important and worthwhile. If you are considering a Belmont Spring Break Mission Trip but are hesitant to commit, I would encourage you to shift your mindset away from answer-seeking questions and toward growth & trajectory questions. Rather than asking, “Should I go? Will I know anyone? Will it actually make a difference?” instead ask yourself, “What made me interested in the first place? Who might I meet? What might I learn?” Going on an international mission trip may raise more questions than it answers, and that’s okay.”
If you have any questions about the Nicaragua Casas por Cristo trip, or any other spring break mission trip, check out global.belmont.edu. If you have any questions about Belmont on Mission events, reach out and follow us on social media @BelmontOnMission