Safari, sunsets and Swaziland: Mass Communication students go to South Africa

Alex Miller, Staff Writer

During spring break, students in the Missionary Media Ministries class took a trip to South Africa to work with Trans World Radio (TWR).

TWR works to proclaim the Gospel through radio ministry. TWR speaks fluently in 230 languages and reaches more than 160 countries.

South Africa houses 62 people groups, seven of which are unreached. 

TWR had plenty of work for the NGU group to help with. 

Andrew Stevens, media instructor and an advisor for the trip, said, “Our main production purpose was to shoot video and interviews for promotional and informational videos for each of the six missionaries that they can use to inform supporters back home. They can also use this contact as a way to gain more supporters.”

“Another thing we were trying to shoot was generic video that could be used by TWR with their producers to develop reports on TWR in Africa,” Stevens added. 

Zeb Blackwell, junior Media Ministry major, said, “We basically gave them an opportunity to tell their supporters thank you and urge them to continue support cause it is changing lives.”

As you can imagine, a trip to South Africa definitely leaves a mark. From elephant crossings to blood orange sunsets, the team experienced a new culture and the stories etched in its’ surface changed them.

“The first night in Swaziland we were all in the cabin working," said Stevens. "I walked outside to go do something and I saw stars like I had only seen in central Texas. No light pollution, nothing around, just the stars. They exploded above me and I could see the Milky Way. Everyone came out to look. Andrew, our host, said, ‘You see that’s the Southern Cross and over there is Orion.’ One of the students commented that it was upside down. He said, ‘Well you’re in the southern hemisphere.’ Just to see that connectedness was so neat.”

Blackwell shared his favorite moment from the trip, too. The team was able to visit the transmitter site in Manzini, Swaziland. Arriving early enough, they sat in on TWR’s morning devotional among its culturally diverse staff.

“They just went back and forth," said Blackwell. "Every time one of the men would say something in English it would be translated back into Siswati for the locals. I thought it was amazing that even though they have a language barrier they don’t let it stop them. They can still communicate, they can still translate to each other and develop those relationships with one another."

If you’re someone interested in a media profession, this trip is a great opportunity to put your skills to the test.

Stevens said, “If you want to work in production, it teaches hands-on skill. You are forced to learn improvisation. At one point we took my hammock and hung it up on post to block the sunlight. Whenever you’re in the field you learn that there are no excuses. You’ve got to get it done. These media trips challenge you in ways you’d never expect.”

The stories from South Africa are testimonies of ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances all for the sake of the spread of the Gospel. As expected, the team left impacted by these stories and gained an energy to serve God in big ways. 

Blackwell said, “I’ve always felt a strong call into ministry and I’ve always been interested in people and stories. I feel media missions is one of the best ways to help promote people and their stories. I love being able to use the talents I’ve developed to help minister to others.”

The Missionary Media Ministries class is only offered every two years and won’t be offered again until 2017. The class is tailored specifically for Media Ministry majors, but is open to anyone interested in expanding their use of media skills.

If you’re interested in going on a Missionary Media Ministries trip in the future, contact Karyn Campbell at Karyn.Campbell@ngu.edu or Andrew Stevens at Andrew.Stevens@ngu.edu