Thursday, August 17, 2017

College Graduates Travel Country in a Van, Spreading the Gospel

June 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, World News

From BaptistStandard.com:

After Stacie Hooks and Jenna Jones graduated from East Texas Baptist University, they felt called by God to spread the gospel, traveling city to city like the early disciples of Jesus in Luke 10.

In the past six months, the two have journeyed to cities in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma, seeking show Christian compassion to everyone they encountered.
Stacie Hooks (left) and Jenna Jones (right) stand in front of the van that serves as their home and transportation as they share the gospel of Jesus Christ from city to city.

Hooks, from First Baptist of Crystal Beach, and Jones, from Crestview Baptist Church of Kountze, disposed of their personal vehicles and brought a van last September, and they began what they call their “VanGo” ministry.

“A friend gave us the name,” said Jones, who graduated in May 2010.

“The name has stuck with us because that is our ministry in a small nutshell—a van going,” added Hooks, who graduated in May 2009.

In a video posted on their blog — www.whoismyneighborvango.blogspot.com — Hooks describes the ministry in this way: “VanGo is two girls, Jenna and I, living in a van, traveling around the nation, city to city, trying to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever way it needs to be done.”

The two depend on God to provide gas and food as they travel. And as they go from city to city, they ask God to show them a neighbor who has been overlooked.

“We took the command found in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10—‘Go and do likewise’—seriously,” said Jones. “Jesus tells his disciples to carry nothing with them and go town to town telling cities and individuals, ‘The kingdom of God is near.’”
Jenna Jones and Stacie Hooks pray with an individual during door-to- door visits. The East Texas Baptist University graduates are traveling the United States, inspired by Luke 10. (PHOTOS/Courtesy of VanGo Ministry)

Jones played soccer for ETBU and served as team captain. She earned a degree in kinesiology, and Hooks has a degree in mass communication. Hooks served a year on campus as the Baptist Student Ministry intern after her graduation.

“When we arrive in a new city, we spend our first few days seeking the Lord in prayer over the city, asking for direction on what he would have us to do. If we have a contact in that city, we meet with them or meet with churches and other ministries to gain wisdom and insight on the needs and hurts of the city,” Hooks said.

“As we do this, God leads us to people, areas, and groups to invest in. What we do looks different in every city we have been to so far. Sometimes, we work alongside ministries already at work and have been led to people and areas that have not yet been reached. But in every city, our heart is to show and tell people that there is more to this life than this world’s temporary treasures.”

Both agree that last September they had no idea what the ministry would look like or what they would be doing. During the first six months of their yearlong journey, God has made it clear to them that he is in control of all things, they noted.

When the “VanGo” duo enters a new city, they usually do not know anyone. As they have met other Christians in each city, they have found themselves walking side by side, having the same purpose, telling others about Jesus Christ.

“Our routes are tentative for a reason,” Jones said. “The Lord is the one who guides us, sets up divine appointments and carries us through this journey. We have offered him a willing spirit and are just trying to be obedient to whatever he sets before us. … One thing that we have loved watching throughout all the cities is the way in which the body of Christ truly works together.”

Hooks recalled specific instances where God brought people into their lives.

“In Baton Rouge, we were able to show some love to the kids in the ghetto who were overlooked by their parents. In Mobile, we sat on benches in downtown and talked for days with a few homeless people named Pat, Robbie, Nancy and J.P. We watched as God reminded them that he has greater plans for them,” she said.

Jones added: “In Miami, we worked beside a ministry that was just beginning and saw God encourage them that they were not alone. In Atlanta, we brought bags of groceries to small families in the ghetto and watched God answer prayers in people’s lives.”

Hooks and Jones have tentative plans to travel over the next six months to cities in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri.

“One of the hardest parts for us as we leave each city, is not knowing what will come of the people that we have encountered, but we trust that the Lord will complete the good work that he has started in the places we have been,” Hooks said.

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