A team of North American teenagers on motorbikes will descend upon small villages in northern Zambia this summer to share the Gospel with the country's poor and orphaned.
"You can picture these African villages where a group of North American teenagers come in riding motorcycles," said Stephen Taylor, promotions coordinator for Teen Missions Canada. "It will attract a large crowd."
About 20 teenagers will be part of Teen Missions' Orphan Angels Motorcycle team to Zambia this summer from June 20 to Aug. 15.
Motorcycles are needed to reach remote villages where the only "roads" are foot paths and a truck carrying all the participants is not practical.
In addition, the motorbikes are helpful in attracting a large crowd to make it easier for the team to minister to them using puppets, drama, music and passing out tracts.
"So motorcycles are one of the things that help to draw that crowd that we can initially start with," explained Taylor.
In total, there have been 13 motorcycle teams since the unique mission trip began in 1995 under the name of Desert Angels. It was not until 2005 that the name changed to Orphan Angels (although the teenagers do not only minister to orphans.)
Besides sharing the Gospel to villagers, the young Christians will also visit AIDS Orphan rescue units and build much-needed toilet and bath houses. For many small villages in the developing world, there are no sanitary methods of going to the bathroom or disposing waste that could lead to health problems as the village expands.
During their time in Africa, teenagers will live simple lives – living in tents and bathing and doing laundry in buckets. However, the North American youths will be prepared before going to the field by spending two weeks training at the "Lord's Boot camp" at the mission's headquarters in Florida where they will take a class on how to bathe and do laundry by bucket.
"When they learn [how to do laundry in a bucket] they are still in North America so they are not completely out of their comfort zone yet," noted Taylor. "By the time they arrive in Africa they will be use to bathing out of the bucket so that will not be as much of a shock."
Although the trip is only a few short months, the Teen Missions spokesman said the lasting impact is far-reaching.
In addition to leaving behind visible outhouses, the North American team will also help boost the morale of the villagers.
"In the places that I've been to, the people are just so excited to have people there that are caring for them, that are loving them and acknowledging that they exist almost," said Taylor. "It is just a huge boost emotionally as they interact with us."
Also, some of the African people after knowing Christ are motivated to pursue full-time ministry and enroll in Teen Missions' Bible, Missionary, and Work (BMW) training centers. There, the Bible students take classes for two years and then complete a one-year internship before going out as pastors or missionaries.
In total, there are currently ten training centers in Africa and 24 worldwide.
The lives of the North American teenager are also deeply impacted by the experience.
"This will be a summer they will never forget because God will really work in their life during this time," said Taylor, reflecting on the "countless" people that have returned decades later to tell the mission group that their lives were changed as a result of the mission experience.
"A lot of people in full-time ministry today said it was during their summer with Teen Mission that they got their call for full time ministry," said Taylor.
More than 40,000 North American youths have gone through the program since Teen Missions International began in 1970. Yet arguably more noteworthy is that in the last couple of years the number of nationals trained and sent out through the mission group has surpassed that of the North American total since the group started.
"You never know if God wants you to do something until you go out and try it," concluded Taylor. "Once you experience it, you may realize that God wants you to be a missionary after all."