The Mini Experience: Summer 2022

Small Magazine Big Impact


Issue 2

Cover – Missions Reality Panama Trip 2022


Homecoming: Join Us in New York or Florida Missions Reality, Then and Now: A Leader’s Perspective

MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS Editor – Bree Hayden '13 & '14 Designer – Teresa Stursberg '14 Alumni Engagement Manager – Rebecca Berga '15 & '16 Alumni Relations – Ken Hayden '86 The Experience is a publication of Word of Life. We want to build a community where you can find longtime friends, share testimonies of what God has been doing, encourage others with stories of change, and learn how you, too, can be involved with the mission of Word of Life. ©Copyright 2022 — Word of Life Fellowship. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission. The perspectives of the author(s) in this magazine do not necessarily represent the perspectives of Word of Life Bible Institute and/or Word of Life Fellowship.

Don Lough, Jr. ‘84 Chancellor, Bible Institute President and CEO, Word of Life Fellowship, Inc.


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NEW YORK / OCTOBER 7-9, 2022 FLORIDA / APRIL 21-23, 2023

Missions Reality, Then and Now: A Leader’s Perspective

Written by Bree Hayden

I remember stepping off the plane in 2014 with cold sweat on the palms of my hands. My Missions Reality trip to Poland had finally come, and even though the ground beneath my feet was solid, I still couldn’t believe I’d arrived. I’d never been on a plane before, never done missions before… I’d never even been further than a few states away from home! Everything was new, and as I gripped my suitcase in one hand and my violin in the other, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. All I knew was that the Lord held it all, and I could trust Him with it. He was with me.

Those ten short days changed my life in a way I never expected.

utterly humbled by the size of the church. These beloved people – whose language I didn’t even speak – were my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I knew I never wanted to forget those moments, so I spent time each day journaling all my experiences. That very afternoon, I opened my brand- new Bible and wrote one word on the last page: Poland. Every place I traveled to from then on out, that Bible would come with me, as a reminder that no matter where I go, He is with me. He is present. This year, as my husband, Kyle, and I were preparing to lead a Missions Reality trip to Panama, I pulled out my travel Bible and decided to go over my old missions journals. It felt as though I was finally coming full circle – from student to leader – and I wanted to remember the things God had used to impact me. It was truly incredible to see how ten days in 2014 were so foundational in leading

They led me to the Cross Cultural Internship with Word of Life–I spent two incredible years in Spain–and brought me into nearly five years of full-time ministry. I gained a new perspective on the global church and saw beautiful examples of Christ in the people we met. In one tiny church, our team had a small coffee and pastry break with the congregation after the service. I noticed that one of the pastries was shaped like a heart. When I asked about it, one of the missionaries translated for me. It was an older couple’s 50th anniversary, and they wanted to celebrate with us because, though they’d only just met us, they loved us and wanted to share with their brothers and sisters in Christ. That was the first time I was

“I had never shared the gospel on the street, let alone in another language, but God gave me the words to share and the missionary I was with the words to translate.”

Maleah, Missions Reality Panama Word of Life Bible Institute 2022

me to where I am at this very moment. All I could pray and hope was that at least a few of the 31 students on our trip would be impacted the way I had been. Of course, God exceeded my wildest dreams. Our time in Panama was so sweet. Many of the students were embarking on their first missions trip, feeling nervous and unsure, just as I had been. However, they saw God use them and their gifts in ways they never expected. Our team took part in camp, served in churches, helped prepare and run a family-day picnic (with the highest attendance EVER on the Word of Life Panama property), visited an indigenous tribe, shared with students from across the globe in an international youth group, preached on the streets in open air evangelism, and more. Our students were pushed outside their comfort zones and stretched in various ways.

Bree Hayden with indigenous Panama tribe

Their minds were blown by the sheer diversity of God’s church and His incredible work across the globe, just as mine had been. Along the way, God knit them together into a cohesive team. When we asked for volunteers for even the hardest of tasks, there was never a shortage of hands. Each night, during family time, they lifted one another up, shared what they’d seen the Lord do, and laughed and cried together. As we walked alongside them, guided them, and pushed them to do hard things, we saw a marked difference in their faith from the beginning to the end of the trip. They experienced radical transformation in their view of missions, the gospel, and the church. They were changed. It encouraged me to see these students experiencing the same things God had taught me on my own trip. Missions will never cease to be an incredibly vital part of the young Christian’s life, and this trip was a potent reminder.

“One of the biggest ways that God worked was when we found out a previously planned ministry could not happen because of COVID. Instead, we shared the gospel with teens after school – and, that afternoon, God allowed me to lead my first person to the Lord.” James Missions Reality Panama Word of Life Bible Institute 2022

God uses missions to impact not only the countries reached, but the ones who embark on these trips and the ones who send them, as well. We got to see that firsthand, and, now that I have experienced both sides of a trip, I can tell you with utter certainty: missions changes lives. Missions Reality changes lives. Towards the end of the week, the director of Word of Life Panama passed around a contact sheet for those who were potentially interested in pursuing the Cross Cultural Internship. Out of the 31 students on our trip – many of whom had told me at the beginning of the week that they were “absolutely certain” they knew what they were doing next year – over 20 put down their phone numbers and emails. I teared up when I saw all those names on that list, and I wrote that moment down in my journal because, once more, I knew I didn’t want to forget the precious things God had done. On the very last day of our trip, I pulled my well-loved and now very beat-up travel Bible – the same one that went with me to Poland – from my backpack, and I added another place to it: Panama. It’s simply one more reminder to me that missions will always lead to life change, and our God is always with us, no matter where we go.

“Missions will always lead to life change, and our God is always with us, no matter where we go.”

Get Involved in Word of Life Missions

You too can impact lives for Christ and take part in God’s plan to reach the nations. How? Through missions! Even if you can’t go, you can give.

To learn more, visit: To give today, go to:

Missions Reality Panama Trip 2022

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