Samuel Henry, BJU Alumnus
God gave me the opportunity to be part of the BJU mission team to Antigua, an island in the Caribbean. We were led by Jonny and Kathryn Gamet, a couple that works in the communications and sports departments at BJU. Along with the leaders and their four children, the team consisted of four guys and six girls. It was extraordinary to see how God used each and every one of our talents to further His work on the island.
Antigua is a beautiful island in the middle of the Caribbean in the West Indies. It is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, holding around 100,000 people. Our team arrived at 2 pm on May 7, 2019. We were met by two missionary couples who we worked with during our time on the island. We worked with the first couple, Nathan and Renee Owens, the most. The other couple, Ken and Nancy Kirkland, helped open many doors to go to different schools, churches, and Bible clubs.
Nathan and Renee help lead the work at the Caribbean Radio Lighthouse, the main organization with which we served. The radio lighthouse spreads the gospel through a 24/7 radio broadcast to most of the Caribbean islands. The lighthouse reaches over two million people on more than twenty islands. Many of these people live in small villages and get their information primarily from radio updates.
During each day we were on the island, the team got split up to work on different tasks, both inside and outside. The first and most substantial task was the 200-foot AM radio tower. The group got up at 5 am and left for the tower site. Our task was to take down the guy-wires one at a time, paint them, and then raise them back up. Since Antigua is a humid island, the wires start to rust after about a year. To keep the wires sturdy, we first scrape the rust and burn it with acid, prime the wire, and paint it. The full project took about a day and a half for all twelve wires.
The process for each wire was straightforward. First, we detached the wire from its anchor. Then, Nathan detached it from the tower. Two to three guys slowly lowered the wire using a pulley. Once the wire was down, one person would paint it with red oil-based paint while the guys slowly lifted the wire back up. Once the wire was back up, Nathan would secure it back to the tower, and we would secure it to the anchor.
We were able to take water breaks and lunch breaks throughout the long, but rewarding, days. We had lots of fun times during the project. First, we got to work while two cows roamed around the field. They were both quiet but got nervous if we approached too closely. The cows got too close to the wires a few times, so we had to scare them off. There was also a very loud donkey and a lot of horses. Next, the wire painter looked like a butcher when he finished. The paint got all over the suit, making it look like some kind of murder mystery. It was quite a humorous sight! Lastly, we got to paint the shed on site after the tower was finished – a much easier task than painting the tower itself.
The next project that about three team members worked on regularly was the radio production work. The team members were assigned to create scripts for the radio station for kids’ programs, ads, and a few other topics. This assignment posed a great opportunity for the team members to apply their majors: English, Communications, and Journalism. They got to write the scripts, record themselves reading the scripts, and edit the recordings to add music and eliminate mistakes. The team also got to invite some of the island children over to record some kids’ question and answer programs.
The rest of the time we were there, we got to work on many kinds of projects. Some examples include working on the radio compound, helping at home, painting the FM tower, and doing a few other tasks. One thing that I personally got to work on was the website (http://www.radiolighthouse.org). I really enjoyed the development because it allowed me to apply my skills as a computer science major in a way that helps the gospel reach more people. I got to add a few pages such as testimonials, podcasts, and a few other random things.
After the projects were done every day, we would visit a beach near the compound to play some games and cool down. A team favorite was a game called spike ball, which is like volleyball but with a trampoline. The water at the beach was very cool, which helped with the heat of the day. Thankfully, no one got stung by sea urchins!
Outside of projects, the team took about a day and a half of tourism. We got to try the island soda (called “Ting”), visit a historic site, see some beautiful views, and shop downtown. Shopping was a fun experience. The vendors would track our eyes and point out whatever we were looking at, encouraging us to get it, in whatever way possible. There were at least 20 vendors with similar products in one section of downtown. Also, the ice cream was incredible and refreshing after a hot day of walking around in the sun. Finally, we visited an island restaurant on the last full day of the trip to experience some great food. Later that night, we also had a bonfire and sang songs to recap and praise God for the work He allowed us to do.
When we weren’t working on projects to help the missionaries, we went to Bible studies and chapels at schools. Most mornings, we would go to schools and do puppet shows, play games, sing songs, and give a message during the chapel time. We got to sing “His Mercy is More” as a team song, and we sang “Behold Our God” as a special. Jonny Gamet would bring the message for the school chapels. The Bible studies were also a great way to really interact with the kids and share the gospel more tangibly. The structure was similar to the chapels but more interactive. For the Bible studies, team members would bring challenges to the kids. It was so encouraging to see their smiling faces and their eagerness to learn more about God.
Another way we helped share the gospel was through the churches. On the one Sunday we were in Antigua, we went to two churches. We helped with Sunday School and led the songs, and Jonny brought the messages. It was encouraging to talk to the islanders and see their energy and joy in Christ. Those times are definitely experiences we will not forget!
We want to thank everyone for their support and prayers. It means so much to have so many people caring and praying for all of us, and it’s so uplifting to see all that God allowed us to do during our time there. He gave us wonderful weather, sweet times with kids and at church, and great missionaries to work with.
Putting it all together, Antigua was an amazing ten days! It flew by, but I know it impacted each and every one of our lives. It was so encouraging to put our skills to use for something that impacts so many lives with the gospel. We’re all thankful for the lessons that God taught us and can’t wait to see how the Caribbean Radio Lighthouse goes on to impact many more lives!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.