Baylor Sends Students to Serve Abroad
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WACO, Texas (June 8, 2012) - When George W. Truett Theological Seminary student Matt Oberhelman decided to attend the music mission trip to Malaysia and Hong Kong, he was not quite sure what to expect.
"I guess I hoped to bring something to the table. I hoped to serve the people and experience God," Oberhelman said.
Oberhelman, who is working on his master's in divinity degree with a concentration in worship leadership, was one of 11 students, a mix of undergraduate and graduate level, to participate in the mission trip sponsored by the Center for Christian Music Studies at Baylor. The group, which left May 12 and returned May 24, presented concerts, held workshops and reached out to encourage and support churches. They worked with more than five churches of different denominations in Southeast Asia.
The music mission trip group was just a small part of the 222 students that Baylor sent on missions this summer to places such as Kenya and Honduras for groups focused on community development, women's leadership, sports ministry and other types of service. There were also around 50 students that participated in spring break mission trips. Coordinator of Missions for Spiritual Life at Baylor Holly Widick said that although Spiritual Life is pleased with the amount of students getting involved with mission trips, it is working to grow the programs and get more students involved.
"We are expanding our locations that we go to and trying to get more locations. We are also trying to address new majors and social missions," Widick said. "We have started social media campaigns, and we are using upperclassmen who have already participated as sort of mentors and recruiters for the trips."
Most teams are sent out for two to three weeks, which would be equivalent to the May minimester at Baylor. Widick said that she is working on getting summer terms, such as all of June or all of July. She said that all of the programs are considered to be discipline specific, revolving around a major or an interest.
"For example, engineering is going to be major specific, and then community leaders could be dealing with a major, or just a certain passion," she explained. "We have one that is focused on women's leadership in Kenya, where we teach about small business management and just showing these women ways to help themselves out of poverty."
The trips are supported by students. Widick said that most students raise money from donations by their families, family friends and churches. Applications usually open by the beginning of September and are due by December, so students have a semester to raise money.
"We provide scholarships for returning students who have already participated in a mission trip, and there is some financial support for students who need it, but they have to have already been accepted to a team and show that they are taking the initiative to raise money. It's sort of like that extra push," Widick said.
Some mission trips are attached to a course, and the trip is the last part of the class.
"In FCS they have a nutrition class that they take during the spring. All semester they are learning about nutrition and where they are going, and at the end of the semester the trip is like their capstone. They apply what they learned to their mission trip," Widick said.
Heather Mustain, another Truett student, led the Ghana Community Development team with her husband Chad.
"The interactions and learning that happens from engaging with another culture is an aspect of mission trips that is completely invaluable for students," she said. "I believe that these trips are cutting edge as students actively learn how their vocation can equip them for worldwide service."
Mustain said that in her opinion, the goal of the summer mission trip was to submerge students into another culture where they can engage and learn. She quoted Dr. Michael Stroope, Associate Professor of Christian Missions and M.C. Shook Chair of Missions at Truett, saying that missions equates to "people being transformed by people being transformed."
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.
by Mallory Hisler, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805