Antioch College Ministry preps for ‘Awaken’ trip

The Antioch College Ministry took a trip to Panama City Beach in March 2022 for their yearly mission trip. Photo courtesy of Shep Helton

By Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

Antioch College Ministry is heading to Edinburg, Texas, next week for its annual “Awaken” trip with hopes for students to grow in community, serve the people in the city and see transformation of lives.

Although Antioch has traveled to Edinburg for the Awaken trip for over 10 years, this is the first time it will return since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100 students will be making the six-hour drive on charter buses on March 4. Last year, they went to Panama City Beach, Fla.

“We really just want to create space for our students to meet with Jesus,” Sarah Grace Freeman, assistant college pastor at Antioch Waco, said. “We’ll have these morning times where we’ll get to hear from different speakers. We’ll have extended times for worship and really just want to soak in the presence of God and allow Him to transform us and bring freedom.”

Students on the trip will also serve the local community through outreach programs, benefits and service projects at the nearby University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Freeman said the goal of this outreach is to connect the people of Edinburg to local church bodies.

“I pray for the Holy Spirit to come and just be present in the midst of everything — from the bus drive, to worship times, to outreach, to random fun times,” Freeman said. “That transformation in students would really impact the community.”

After watching God move across many college campuses, including Baylor, Freeman said she sees the intentionality in the planning and timing of the trip.

“It can be a daunting thing, but it’s another thing God is really wanting to do,” Waco sophomore Shep Helton said. “At the base of it is just posturing your heart toward the Lord and knowing and living out what Christ is wanting us to do.”

Helton, who has been involved at Antioch for over a decade, said he attended the Awaken trip to Panama City beach, Fla., last year. He said the trips are designed to be restful and are many students’ introduction to evangelism.

“It’s really a great time to not only see evangelism for the first time if you haven’t, but also to see the Holy Spirit move in a way that you’ve never seen him move before,” Helton said.

Freeman said while most students attending the trip are members of Antioch, they also host several students who attend different churches. She said anyone who is interested in attending the trip is always welcome to email to apply until the day they leave for Edinburg.

“We’re just really trusting the Lord with finances,” Freeman said. “We want to make a way for everyone to come just because we really feel like it could be such a catalytic, transformative experience.”

Freeman said Antioch is praying for students who attend the trip to leave feeling more connected with deeper friendships.

Helton said he is praying for the logistics of the trip to run smoothly and for the team to find confidence in its purpose, which is to be on mission and reach the unreached.

“Let’s just go out and share what we love, which is the Gospel, to people who don’t know it,” Helton said. “I pray this week leading up to Awaken that we would really be able to posture our hearts as a team — know what the goals of the trip are, what we want to get out of it and what God wants to do, letting God take over.”