County couple visit
Southeast Asia on mission trip
work, travel for
Team Expansion, a world aid agency
Helen E. McKinney
PENDLETON, Ky. (January 2009) In an age where
technology puts everything at our fingertips, it sometimes fails to
open our eyes to the cultural lifestyle felt in third world countries.
Tina and John Palmer Gregg recently encountered such experiences firsthand
on an emotional journey to Southeast Asia.
and John Palmer Gregg travel
the world spreading Team
Expansions vision of hope.
The couple works for Team Expansion, a Louisville-based
organization that partners with local churches to send and sustain teams
of interdependent missionaries to plant indigenous churches among unreached
It was a pretty varied experience from the hustle and bustle of
such a large international city like Bangkok, to the poverty and isolation
in Cambodia and Laos, said Gregg, a photojournalist and documentarian
for Team Expansion.
So often, people think of people from other cultures as different,
or unlike us, said Gregg, 31. He said that while all people struggle
through the same basic difficulties in life, it is their situations
that differ and their responses to the difficulties that set them apart.
A popular phrase that he saw repeatedly displayed among the countries
the couple visited was Same Same, but Different. This was
a good way to sum up the experience, he said. People are the same
everywhere, but different.
The couple, who live in Pendleton, Ky, traveled to Southeast Asia for
several reasons, the main one being that Southeast Asia was the theme
of Team Expansions booth during the National Missionary Convention
in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008. I thought the information I gathered
would be helpful to help explain the current situation in those countries.
Team Expansion was founded in 1978 as a prayer movement by college students
on the campus of what was then known as Kentucky Christian University.
Were trying to bring help and hope to the worlds neediest
peoples, said Team Expansion President Doug Lucas.
On any given day, depending upon the context, one might find Team Expansion
workers setting up a fresh water supply in Iraq, training leaders in
Tanzania, East Africa, launching a home for battered and abused women
in Peru, or staging a satellite internet communications system in post-war
Kosova, said Lucas.
Greggs position with Team Expansion consists of traveling to different
fields to help raise awareness of the organizations role in that
part of the world. He also seeks to communicate Team Expansions
vision to supporting churches and individuals in the states, and garner
interest in the work of the on-field workers and the organization as
Palmer Gregg took these photos
while traveling in Southeast Asia.
John has this unique gift of figuring out just the
right camera perspective to show life in a way that helps us understand
people more than we would have with our own eyes, said Lucas.
Hes kind of an Ansel Adams for human needs contexts.
Gregg traveled to Kosovo and Peru last year to document the humanitarian
aid and church work taking place in these countries. Each trip
impacts me differently; however, they all share at least one thing in
common, he said. The trips leave him with a feeling of encouragement
that it is possible that concerted effort from the world can bring
aid and hope to everyone, but also a sense of sadness that this
effort is not being accomplished.
His pictures communicate life, vision, need, compassion and service,
Lucas said. They let sponsors see tangible ways that their donations
are making a difference.
Gregg earned an Associate Degree in Biblical Theology from Johnson Bible
College in Knoxville, Tenn., before graduating from East Tennessee State
University in Johnson City, Tenn., with a degree in journalism. He moved
to Carrollton, Ky., and took a job as a reporter at The Carrollton News-Democrat.
A few years later, he became a photojournalist for the Madison Courier
in Madison, Ind. While in Madison, the couple attended the North Madison
They moved for a time to Staunton, Va., while Gregg was employed there
by The News Leader. But the couple felt compelled that we needed
to do something in world missions and humanitarian aid, Gregg
said. After exploring various missionary organizations to see if they
could use people with the Greggs skills, the couple discovered
Team Expansion and decided it was a perfect fit for their talents.
All workers have to raise funds for the organization equal to the costs
of their trips, said Lucas. They rely heavily on friends and sponsors
While on such mission trips, Tina uses her skills and background in
the area of counseling to administer what is called member care
to field workers. Life can be very difficult for families who
give up everything here in the states to live in often much worse conditions,
Tina spends time with mission families to determine their emotional
well-being and deciding what type of support they need from Team Expansion.
Her job duties vary from working with children that may have trouble
adjusting to a new home and culture of a foreign country, to providing
a listening ear to individuals who need someone from their home culture
to speak to.
Tina is a gifted counselor, said Lucas.
Mission work to me is being able to bring hope to people and to
help them any way that I can, she said. She has a passion for
helping others and is driven to aid missionaries and humanitarian aid
workers to stay healthy and well-adjusted as they conduct field work.
Tina sang with an international Christian touring group in 2001. The
group traveled all over the United States and spent time in Germany,
Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. She called it a great experience
that helped prepare her for the extensive travel she now does.
Of her work with Team Expansion, Tina said, I learn different
things each place we go. I think the biggest thing is learning about
other cultures and learning how hard life can be for those in third
world countries. My eyes are always opened during these experiences
and I think they teach me to have more compassion on others. In
addition, these experiences have deepened her appreciation of her own
life and home even more.
Gregg said his main goal is to bring awareness to other countries. I
believe that giving the hope of salvation through Christ is the greatest
think anyone can do for these people. My hope is that my work helps
in some way bring them that message.
For more information on Team Expansion,
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