Union University virtual trip helps promote prayer app for missions

Though Union’s Global Opportunities Trips this spring were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one team was able to conduct its trip to Southeast Asia virtually May 25-29.

The original plan was for the GO Trip team to travel to Southeast Asia May 18-29 to work alongside an International Mission Board media team to provide media products and creative strategy. This was the first time the Office of University Ministries offered a trip specifically for marketing, communication and digital media majors, said Song Kim, graphic design specialist at Union.

Kim was the GO Trip leader for a team of four Union students and one alumnus: Jenna Mincy, sophomore graphic design major; Callie Teague, junior public relations major; Callie Wright, senior social work major; Keely Vaughn, sophomore public relations major; and Ally Drotar (’19), a freelance graphic and web designer.

Drotar, who graduated with a degree in digital media communications, said when she heard about the trip, she thought, “That could be a way that I could use what I’ve been gifted in to do something for the gospel.”

After Union suspended all university-sponsored travel due to COVID-19 in mid-March, Bryson Holston*, strategist on IMB’s Media and Innovation Team, asked Kim if they were interested in doing a virtual project instead.

“I asked my students, and they all jumped into this,” Kim said. “I was thankful to have the same team, the team that we had been trained with and prayed with.”

Mincy, who just transferred to Union in January, said that one of the main reasons she chose Union was its GO Trips and emphasis on missions. When she visited campus last fall, she attended a chapel service where Union alumnus and staff member Stephen Neu spoke about how GO Trips influenced him as a student. During her enrollment process, Mincy asked to apply for this trip to Southeast Asia.

“We need to be living our lives in light of the gospel and just trying to share that with people,” Mincy said. “I just thought it would be a really neat thing that we would be able to do that by way of graphic design.”

The week of May 25-29, the GO trip team met at 9:00 every morning via Zoom to work with six IMB media team members around the world. They helped develop marketing materials and strategy for a new app that will allow missionaries to share daily prayer requests with their prayer supporters.

“Technology is pretty great,” Mincy said. “It was just a neat experience to be on more of a professional level with them and get their critiques and constructive criticism, because that just really pushed our team to do better.”

By the end of the week, the team had produced a user guide on how to make a post, an infographic, social media posts and a landing page about the app.

“We have a small team and relatively few full-time media people globally,” Holston said. “Their work helped us leap ahead with the project.”

Although they weren’t able to physically travel to Southeast Asia, the team members still grew in their faith by participating in this virtual GO Trip.

“God is still at work in this time of the pandemic,” Kim said. “He was teaching us even though we are not there in person, he has the power to just use our gifts in this very creative way. We feel like we are coming together as a church and serving alongside with our brothers and sisters who are on the field.”

*Name changed for security