By DAVID SWEARINGEN
ERATH COUNTY (August 15, 2016) – Local resident Joey Braun, who moved to Stephenville eight years ago, is home again after a recent mission trip to China.
Braun, a 2016 FAITH graduate, attends Cottonwood Baptist Church in Dublin with his parents Nick and Tamara Braun and his three brothers and three sisters. And he’s currently working as an assistant coach for the five-time defending Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations (TAIAO) State Champion FAITH Knights football team, where he was a standout player during his school years.
But Braun’s most recent play was on a whole new kind of field.
In China, he, Kate Gilliland and Kaydee Jones (who also attend Cottonwood Baptist), traveled through a number of smaller villages and also stayed in larger Chinese cities like Beijing on their two-month long mission trip. While there, they mainly stayed in apartments but at times it was necessary for them to stay in hotels. Braun said in some of the larger cities such as Beijing, the pollution is so bad for the citizens that it is the equivalent of each person smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Luckily, the group spent little or no time in these high danger areas. Braun said most of the people are a loving and caring people, but like in the US, some are not. Another luckily thing about the trip was that most of the younger generation speak English. When he went to China, Braun said all he could basically say in Chinese, or Mandarin, was ‘hello’. However, he said by the time he left China he was able to order his meal in Mandarin with relative ease.
“I went into the trip with certain expectations. And while we were there, we went and saw a bunch of waterfalls. It was really cool. We saw this first waterfall and we got to get right up underneath it. It was really awesome. So that was kind of like our expectations and as we were headed back down and one of our friends said that there was more. So, we went around this corner and you can see all these stairs that were kind of cut into the rock,” Braun recalled. “It was kind of treacherous and dangerous and we started climbing, as we came around another corner there was this one waterfall that was pouring into this other one. It was really beautiful and that’s just kind of how the summer went. It’s like we all had our expectations, but it was like God saying ‘I have so much more for you’. So it was really neat to get to see God work all summer that way and pushing past anything that we could have anticipated or hoped for.”
Braun and his group were in China to help with the distribution of water filters and to educate the Chinese about the importance of having and maintaining good, clean drinking water. He said he and his American friends felt safe and secure while they were there and were never in any kind of danger while spending time abroad.
He plans to stay in touch with some friends he met while in China and said he would not mind a possible return trip one day. Braun said he will go where God leads him and felt like this trip to China was another place God lead him.
When the school year begins, Braun will begin taking business classes at Ranger College Erath County. And for now, he plans on continuing with assistant coaching duties with the Knights and working as a missions intern at Cottonwood Baptist Church. But he said he plans to take everything he’s learned this summer and use it to grow and show others the excitement and adventure he’s found in mission work and God’s love.