“ I have the privilege of living with many different comforts of home such as having a hot shower whenever I want and a warm, comfy bed and home,” said Bailey Herring. “I never have to worry about what I am going to eat or whether or not I can drink tap water and there are so many people who worry about all of these and more. It really showed me that I think I take a lot of things for granted and waste money on a lot of different things and will hopefully work on not being so wasteful and concerned with myself as much.”
Herring joined a group of high school seniors and graduates of French Camp Academy on a week-long mission trip to Acuña, Mexico, where the group did Vacation Bible School-type programs and other programs that included interpretive dances, dramas, skits, puppets, and songs for high schools, elementary schools, public plazas, orphanages, and a small, local church.
“We mainly worked in the city of Acuña,” Herring said. “We went to a lot of schools and more public places. The people there were absolutely amazing and are very open to the Gospel. They also are very hospitable and were happy to have us there.”
Herring is a senior at French Camp Academy. She is the daughter of John and Shellie Herring of Eupora, and a member of First Baptist Church of Eupora.
“I also feel like this is the first of many adventures that The Lord has in store for me,” Herring said. “I feel like everyone should go on a mission trip out of the country at some point in their lives to see how the rest of the world is and to understand how lucky we are. There is also such a joy that can be found in doing God’s will and knowing that you are helping someone. God calls us to go to the ends of the Earth and preach his word (Acts 1:8).”
Rev. Travis Gray of FBC Eupora has served as Herring’s pastor for a little over a year and a half.
“It has been a joy to watch her in her Christian walk,” Gray said. “Her willingness and desire to serve the Lord through missions is exciting to me. It is a challenge to all of us to ask ourselves what are we doing for the Lord. I look forward to seeing how God uses Bailey in the future.”
Tim and Leslie Commings organized the trip to Mexico through French Camp Academy. All of the students on this trip were either current or former Spanish language students at FCA.
“The trip is an excellent language lab,” said Tim Commings. “We were so blessed this year to have such a tremendous group of students. Bailey was a great addition to the team. She was nervous, but she did an excellent job. She has a great smile and a good winsome attitude.”
“I expected God to do great things on this trip and I believe He did, but I feel like He changed more in me than I had anticipated,” Herring said. “I am still struggling with this … because I feel different now.”
Team members included: Jessica May, Kaley Edwards, Kaylee Hunt, Abigail Holman, Emily Holman, Alexis McKinney, Noah Davenport, and Bailey Herring; students that graduated last year: Anna Grace MacKenzie and Nathan May; and adults: Suzanne Edwards, Susanna Davenport, Tasha Grantham, and Tim and Leslie Comings.
In addition to being Spanish students at FCA, team members also went through a two-month training course to strengthen their language skills, and master the puppetry, Vacation Bible School and other presentations.
This is the sixth year French Camp Academy has had a mission team go to Acuña, Mexico. They work with a local church to reach their community with the gospel of Christ. Commings said Acuña was a border town with about 250,000 residents.
“It is very fertile ground for reaching people with the Gospel,” Commings said. “Children especially are very receptive. Kids seem to hang on every word.”
“I think that I honestly expected to not get so attached to the people,” said Tasha Grantham, one of the leaders of the mission trip. “In reality, it broke my heart to leave them. I’m thankful that God used this experience to open the doors of my heart to new people and new experiences!”
“I was afraid to speak freely in public —to over 100 people— but as the week went on, I decided I needed to be brave and speak,” said Susanna Davenport, one of the leaders of the group. “It was so cool to see how the Lord spoke through me even though I was afraid. Joshua 10:25”
On the first day of the trip, the group worked with children in a neighborhood park. The team was also able to go into the schools and work with children and teens.
“This week really solidified for me something that I’ve known for a while but not wanted to admit to and that is that I am called to be a missionary,” Herring said. “The whole week has changed me and I feel different and I want to show people who change in my life.”
“Advice to future team members: ‘Go!’ God will pleasantly surprise you with how He will work both in and through you,” said Tasha Grantham, one of the leaders of the mission trip. “Be prepared for a life-changing, eye and heart-opening experience!”
Leslie Commings, one of the trip leaders, said it was an amazing trip with a lot of spiritual warfare.
“But, that’s not surprising since we had so many opportunities to speak about Jesus in public and private schools in Acuña,” Leslie Commings said. “One of the Mexican ladies told me that this is very unusual to have such opportunities open up to share the gospel. It’s probably because we are Americans, we have a good program to share, and the schools are crying out for help in giving these kids a moral compass— they see the need! Jesus has gone before us and prepared the way. Please pray that these seeds would take root!”
During the trip, the group had to abandon a vehicle in Mexico and one student was sick and had to go to the hospital, but despite the difficulties, the group knew God was on their side.
“Monday morning when Bailey was so sick before the Chains Skit, she said she needed to go up there and perform because it was obviously a spiritual battle,” Davenport said. “We prayed for her and afterwards she said the moment she got on stage she felt 100 percent better. Such a testimony of the Holy Spirit defeating Satan.”
“God taught me on this trip that He is greater than sin and us,” said Emily Holman. “With all the trials on the trip, God showed Himself through it. God was so powerful on this trip!”
Other mission team members said they were changed by the experience.
“A major concept I learned in Acuña was about loving like King Jesus,” said Kaley Edwards. “I was just super convicted about how I drive hours and 1,000 miles to love on these kids that I don’t even know, but then I don’t love the people under my roof or in my community. King Jesus’ love is everywhere, not just in third world countries.”
“God taught me so much on this trip,” said Noah Davenport. “He taught me to care more about other people. I learned to be less self-centered and give my time to those that need it. He taught me what relationships are supposed to look like.”