First-year Kara Hartman took a year off after high school to travel the country with Captive Free, a program that prepares young people to travel as part of a praise and worship team to various parts of America and other countries.
First-year Sarah Biddix was also a part of the program, and it was evident that this experience was life-changing for both students.
Captive Free is based in the United States, but has grown into an international organization that sends some participants overseas to places such as India, Europe and Africa.
Over the months, the students traveled and sang in churches across the United States and performed workshops, concerts and community service.
“When I was younger, the teams would come to my church and do praise team,” Hartman said. “It was just really cool to me that people near my age could praise God, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.”
Hartman heard more about the program from her older sister, junior Ashley Hartman, who participated in the program two years earlier.
The summer after they graduated high school, Kara Hartman and Biddix went to a camp for one month of training before they began their team ministry. Once there, the participants were split into several groups of five or six people each.
“It was crazy how everyone became friends,” Biddix said. “It was such an unnatural friendship–there was really no way to explain how we became friends, it just happened.”
However, the program was about more than simply meeting new people.
“It was really intense,” Hartman said of the training period. “One week was theological lessons in the city and the next three weeks we were back at camp learning music. We needed to make a presentation of our program to the leaders at the end, so everything had to be ready.”
After they finished training, the groups were sent off to separate locations. The West Lakes team, which Hartman was a part of, went to Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and other states. Biddix was assigned to the East Coast team that traveled to states along the coast, from Maine to Florida.
Both students made it clear that the main goals of the organization and their teams were to touch lives and change them for the better. Biddix prayed before going on the trip that, if she could knowingly touch just one person’s life, the entire trip would have been worth it.
“One night, after I finished sharing my testimony at a center for delinquent kids, I told them that I loved them,” Biddix said. “A little girl came up to me and told me that for the first couple years of her life, no one had told her that they loved her, and that day she heard it from a total stranger.
“Throughout the trip I knew we had touched lives, but it wasn’t until that night, I knew for a fact that it had been worth it,” Biddix said.
Both students said they would recommend this program to anyone.
“At first I was terrified to go in front and talk at workshops, but by the end, I did not even need note cards,” Hartman said.
“It really helped me in my spiritual life,” she said. “It’s probably the best thing I’ve done in my life so far.”