Our Student Mission Team Is Returning to an AIDS Camp

If you know me or if you have been following this blog for a while, you know I am a believer of short-term missions. While I see some of the shortcomings of these trips, I have also experienced the virtues of these weeks.

This year, we are returning to the All Saints AIDS Camp with Next Step Ministries. We will be headed to the Nassau, Bahamas this weekend and be there until the 17th. Our main objective is to do what we are told to do cheerfully and effectively in the name of Jesus (If you have worked on a short-term trip, you’re probably smiling and know exactly what that means). What I believe we are actually doing is building cabins for the residents of the camp. Two years ago, we worked on cabins and spent the other half of the time destroying sidewalk and repaving a new one. The sidewalk was completed last summer and most of the projects are focused on cabin building, a new bathhouse, kitchen-cafeteria and perhaps a chapel.

It’s always been interesting to me that the All Saints AIDS Camp used to be a leper colony. The camp sits on a ridge on the opposite side of the resorts, down a long winding dirt road overlooking a cliff and a cemetery. There is a little bit of electricity and access to water. Other amenities include a picnic table.

Still, we found most of the residents to be cheerful. One woman we made a connection with frequently asked us to read Scripture to her and she would love to sing hymns. There were many like her which we found to be incredible. There has always been a Christian presence in the camp and many of the residents are professing believers. After our trip, the camp received resident missionaries whom we have been praying upon hearing the incredible news. I am curious to how the camp feels since their arrival.

Upon hearing the possibility of this place (at the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburgh of ’08), I was quick to dismiss it. I mean taking high school students to an AIDS Camp and hearing all the jokes of a mission trip to the Bahamas is a tough sell. That day, had you told me that it would have been one of the most meaningful experiences of our lives, I probably would not have believed you.

It’s become a very special place to me. You pray very different when you’re at a place like that. Last time I was there, my wife was pregnant with Dylan and she’s now pregnant with a little girl. I’m telling you, you think differently about life when you’re there. It’s a special place and our students were very moved by the experience. And one moment I’ll always remember is one of our girls turning 16 there.

There are countless things to remember but one of my another highlight was getting a tour of the island on our free day by one of the residents … who was blind. I’m eager to meet up with him again and though I expect that he won’t remember me, we certainly remember him and his story of God’s deliverance.

If you would remember to pray for a few things that would be great.
– Pray that we would be “agenda-free” and only focused on serving in the name of Jesus. One of our collective concerns is the temptation to recreate our previous experience (which would be like us making an idol and worshipping that memory instead of God).
– Pray for our safety and health. It’s extremely hot and we’re building cabins, tools are sharp, wood is heavy, and though we are very safety conscious, please pray for God’s hand to be upon us.
– Pray for those we will be serving and serving with. As wonderful as it is for Americans to come and help build a new home for you, it must get a bit exhausting talking to a new group each week. We do our best to communicate to our team that we are not tourists but there is obviously a relational element to these weeks. And so we pray that those who we are serving would be blessed in many ways by us. We will also be serving with another church (from Minnesota) and we’re looking forward to meeting them.

I’d like to think that post a thought or two next week but I’ll be more committed to being there, so we’ll see.

For more context, you can about our trip two years ago here and here.


  1. Our prayers and thoughts are with you! Our youth will pick up where you leave off- we arrive the 17th. Short term missions can be frustrating to some who feel we don’t get enough done, but I guess the beauty is that there is usually another group right on your heels, ready to serve! May God bless your journey…
    Beau Dansizen – Director of Youth Ministries
    Dover CongregationalUCC, Westlake Ohio

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