Three college students prepare for a summer of sharing the Gospel

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During the Send Me Now LAUNCH weekend hosted by Georgia Baptist Collegiate Ministries on April 12-13, 122 students were commissioned as summer missionaries. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

STOCKBRIDGE – Bille Burgess is a graduate student studying international affairs at University of North Georgia-Dahlonega. Ella Svirida, a senior, studies nursing at Georgia State. Sophomore Bryce Bussert concentrates on linguistics and economics at Middle Georgia State University. These three students have one major thing in common though.

Through the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Collegiate Ministries’ Send Me Now program, they’re each serving as student missionaries this summer, commissioned on April 13th during LAUNCH weekend.

Burgess is spending eight days doing disaster relief work through an existing church plant in Puerto Rico. Svirida will spend eight weeks in Southeast Asia, ministering to and sharing the Gospel with other student nurses. Meanwhile, Bussert will travel through the North American Mission Board’s GenSend program to Puerto Rico for eight weeks.

‘Yes’ – the only thought in Burgess’ brain

Billie Burgess, a grad student at UNG Dahlonega, will be spending time this summer in Puerto Rico doing disaster relief from Hurricane Maria. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

Before he even started college, he’d been on six North American mission trips with his local youth group. Missions was something, “he’d always been passionate about,” he says.

“The Bible doesn’t really give you much of a choice,” he shared. “It says go, and it doesn’t really say when you want to or go when you feel good. It says go and continue to go. It says to tell everyone and to proclaim.”

So, years ago, when Burgess heard of a mission opportunity through his school’s BCM, “there wasn’t even a thought in my brain besides ‘yes.’”

This summer will be his 21st mission trip.

One of the things he looks forward to the most is getting to know his team better. He loves to hear “their stories, their struggles, and how Christ has played such a role in their life.”

Billie Burgess with his parents after the commissioning service. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

“I’ve been on a bunch of different mission trips and I’m done guessing about what God’s going to do, what I’m going to do, or what I’m going to see,” he shared. “I just want to see God glorified.”

Burgess continued, “It could be praying with someone as they receive Christ. Or, it could be like one moment I had in Brazil. One night after our kitchen ladies were done cooking, they all were in a circle singing. They spoke Portuguese but were singing hymns that we knew. So we jumped in and sang the English version of those hymns. It was cool seeing God glorified in multiple languages.

“Every mission trip I’ve had has a moment where God was glorified and He moved. It’s always a different moment and an amazing moment and not what I’m expecting, so I’m excited to see that.”

And although Burgess doesn’t see himself as a career missionary, he’d love to use business as mission. “You can get sent so many places different than what a missionary can if you’re there for business. So it’s a whole new people group within a country and culture that you get to meet,” he said. In the meantime, he has no plans to stop doing short term trips.

Svirida – her first time back overseas

Ella Svirida, a senior at Georgia State University studying nursing, will be serving on the Nurse to Nurse team in Southeast Asia. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

When Svirida was six, her family immigrated from Moldova. Because of that move, she harbored a lot of bitterness, even at a young age. Growing up in a family of believers, she knew she needed the peace that only came from knowing the Lord. After becoming a believer, she developed a heart for service and a passion for missions.

“I just want to serve and make God’s name known, whether it’s here, overseas, on campus, anywhere!” Ella shared.

And although she’s been involved in local mission trips, this summer will be her first time crossing an ocean since she left Moldova as a child. This time, she’ll be on a medical mission trip in southeast Asia, working at a local university with nursing students there.

Ella Svirida talks with a new friend during the get-to-know-you portion of the Send Me Now LAUNCH weekend. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

“They’ll practice their English and build relationships with us. It’s very relatable since they’re in nursing school and I’m in nursing school too,” she shared.

Svirida said she’s hopes this summer is a “growing time” for her. “It’s out of my comfort zone, going overseas, I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord. Also, I get scared,” she confessed, so she’s praying for “boldness to share the Gospel and to use every conversation I have with anyone to point to Christ.”

She’s also really hoping she brings that boldness back to her campus to reach her peers during her last year at Georgia State.  

Bussert – sharing the Gospel in Spanish

Bussert is about to graduate with his associate’s degree in Spanish before going on to study linguistics and economics. He’s excited to put that degree into use this summer.

Bryce Bussert, a sophomore at Middle Georgia State University, will be spending 8 weeks in Puerto Rico with NAMB’s GenSend program. MYRIAH SNYDER/Index

“I’d like to be able to use this to share my faith and build other believers up in different places,” he shared.

“Ever since middle school, I’ve wanted to share the Gospel with someone in a language that’s not English. I’ve always thought that would be really neat and it’s getting to the point where that’s coming very soon. I can count down the days until I’ll be able to do that,” he said.

But, he has his hesitations. Sometimes he gets “nervous talking about the Gospel in English because it’s so important, and that’s a language you know really well and know the intricacies of,” he admitted.

In Spanish though, “I’ve got to convey the truth of the Gospel and I don’t speak [Spanish] great [yet] and don’t know all the other quirks in the language or where these people come from or other things going on,” he said.

He was quick to add, “But there’s enough truth in the Gospel that the important parts will get through.”

Bussert is hopeful his trip this summer will “further reinforce how big God is.” “He’s bigger than our state, our nation, our language, our culture. There are people today praising God in Spanish. There are people today praising God in Uganda. Those people are important, and God has a relationship with them, too,” he said.

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