Name: Serge Gideon
Class Standing: Senior
Over Winter Break, most Andrews students have the opportunity to return home and celebrate the holidays with loved ones and old friends. It is around that time of year when students look forward to getting a long and well-earned break from the demands of classes and work life—a time when we can put our books aside and just relax for a few weeks. For one talented individual, this was not the case. Over his break, Serge Gideon (senior, English) and a group of five other singers decided to go on a mission trip to bring Gospel music to the Czech Republic, where Gospel music isn’t too prevalent. According to Gideon, they decided to take their free time and use it to spread the language of Heaven.
How was your recent missionary experience in the Czech Republic?
It was a pretty interesting trip intending to bring authentic Gospel music to people of the Czech Republic. We did this because we felt that there is a need and a thirst for Gospel, but there isn't an authentic way to express it because Gospel music isn't necessarily part of their history. We brought people who we felt are well-versed in Gospel and we went there to teach and show them how it's done. We sang with them, talked with them and gave them some techniques they could use. We also did a couple of concerts for a few different towns and cities in the Czech Republic.
How did it feel to be sharing something that's not really prominent in that part of that world?
It was actually really cool because a lot of the people were thoroughly shocked when they heard us, because they had never heard voices like ours before. You're seeing someone experience something for the first time in their lives and the expression on their faces and the way they responded was something that was just so beautiful and it's not something that can be mimicked or imitated, it has to be genuine and real, and we got to experience that first-hand.
Did you come across any awkwardness or difficulties on your trip?
Yes. It was a little uncomfortable at first because there aren't many African-Americans in the country, and when I say they aren't many, we could count how many we saw on the whole trip on our hands. It was also difficult because we spoke a different language and when we were in the bigger cities like Prague, there were some people who spoke English, but when we went to the more “country” areas almost no one spoke English. So whenever we were trying to communicate, if we would venture out on our own without a translator we would have difficulty communicating with people. We got lost a couple times.
Did you feel as though it was more of a challenge or more of a benefit to be viewed as something unique?
I think it was a little bit of both, but if I would classify it, I’d say it was mostly a refreshing experience. I guess I wouldn't say I feel so normal here but if I walk normally down the street here nobody cares or pays attention to me; but over there you walk down the street and everyone stares at you and just looks and stops. So sometimes it was a little terrifying but it was also kind of refreshing because you feel like such an exotic thing that’s interesting to people so I guess sometimes the attention is kind of cool.
What was one of the highlights of your trip?
One of the highlights was actually our first night; we performed at a big Christmas Gospel show with some of the local celebrities in the area. It was a huge crowd and it was such a beautiful venue. We were in this old Cathedral and it was honestly an experience I've never had in my life. I felt like I was in a movie because it was the first of the trip, so everything was kind of surreal. It didn't feel real but it was real. We're here performing with these super talented people on this stage and it was televised so it was a really eye-opening experience.
What would you say to the students of Andrews University who have not necessarily been involved in too much and are deciding what to study?
I would say if you feel God is calling you to do it then do it. If you feel like you can have an impact on anyone in another country or maybe here doing any type of Outreach you can, then get involved. It takes a lot of work and it's a lot of self-sacrificing but the amount of change and transformation you can have on people can be a huge blessing to someone, so don't take a blessing away from someone because of your fear.