Baylor Missions Around the World: Students Volunteer for Trips to Europe, Africa, Central America
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WACO, Texas (June 27, 2013) - "The integration of faith, learning and service."
That's the ultimate goal of Baylor Missions, said coordinator for missions Holly Widick, as hundreds of Baylor University students and faculty ventured to offer their time, talents and services to a hurting world.
Right after classes ended in May, several groups boarded planes and headed to Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, France, Haiti and Guatemala. "[The missions] are discipline-specific, so we're trying to integrate ways they're learning in the classroom on a global scale," said Widick. "It's open to all Baylor students, regardless of classification or major."
In early June, the Baylor chapter of Engineers with a Mission returned from Ferrier, Haiti, where they installed solar panels into the community's training center operated by Mission Waco. Eight students and two Baylor professors also repaired wells, painted a house, worshipped at local churches and played with the town's children.
The town has very limited access to electricity, said Brian Thomas, senior lecturer of electrical and computer engineering in Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science and faculty sponsor for Engineers with a Mission. But he and his team did not plan to simply throw money at the town. "We don't want to create dependency. We want to empower instead of just provide handouts."
With this in mind, the team's goal was to "better equip the training center so the training center can empower the people," Thomas said.
"We met in the spring prior to the trip during the semester several times," Thomas said. "We read a book about working in developing countries and we had some language lessons. We also spent some time on the technical details."
But the students didn't just learn new technical skills, speak a new language or meet new people, Thomas said, but had profound experiences. He particularly noticed deep changes in Josh Daniliuc, an electrical and computer engineering master's candidate at Baylor.
Daniliuc was impressed to see how the locals survived on so little, yet were happy. "The locals in Ferrier, Haiti have very little resources compared to us, earning about a dollar per day, and yet they possess a remarkable appreciation for life and community," he said. "Relationships are a big part of their culture and the interdependence that they have on one another taught us a lot about the raw humanness of living a life unfettered by ego and self."
An example of this interdependence was when the local church gathered an offering for the poorer people of Ferrier, Daniliuc said. "[The pastor] placed a bucket on the ground in the front-center of the church, and I was deeply moved to see how, despite most of them owning very little, many individuals came up and tossed in a few coins or crumpled currency into the bucket."
Daniliuc said he was moved to tears when the church also welcomed with open arms a woman who was struggling to provide for her five children as well as three orphans she had adopted.
"Baylor Missions did a tremendous job of preparing our faculty leaders and us for our respective service-learning trips, and we are thankful to all the staff who dedicated themselves to our growth," Daniliuc said. "Our team was blessed to be part of this opportunity, and we truly lived out the goal of Baylor Missions, which is 'People being transformed by people being transformed.'"
"I personally feel privileged to be able to lead these student trips and see the transformation that occurs in our students as they serve other people," Thomas said. "They learn a lot about culture, about poverty, about their calling."
Additional Baylor teams carried out community development missions in various parts of Africa.
A team of 10 students and two Truett Seminary graduate student leaders partnered with All Nations Charity Home orphanage in Kumasi, Ghana, to bring music, arts and crafts, sports, a carnival, and lots of laughter to children of all ages. Baylor students invested in the Shoot 4 Life basketball ministry alongside founder and Truett Seminary graduate Vincent Asamoah, MDiv '08, and led basketball practices in local schools. The also visit gave students the opportunity to enjoy cultural exchange with locals and tour Kumasi and learn about Ghanaian history.
In Kenya, a team of seven students, three Baylor staff and a university guest served in Nairobi, partnering with City Harvest Ministries and Beacon of Hope Africa, which serve people in extreme poverty and/or those living with HIV/AIDS.
The Baylor Sports Ministry team traveled to Kenya and Zambia to minister to children through sports clinics and competitions. The Women's Leadership team spent two weeks in Nairobi, ministering to women and children. Baylor Men's Choir did the same, but through song and worship.
In Uganda, a Baylor Accounting team, comprised of graduate students in the master of taxation and master of accounting programs, conducted business consulting worships for small businesses, entrepreneurs and business school students.
Two Baylor missions teams visited Guatemala, including a group of Baylor nutrition science students who provided nutrition education at child care centers and local schools. Seventeen members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and one Baylor staff leader traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, to work with special-needs children in Los Gozosos ("the joyful ones") orphanage. They also assisted at Hermano Pedro hospital, a multi-service facility providing a home and care for the elderly and orphaned, the mentally challenged and chronically ill, and worked with a private school, Kairos, in their after-school program.
The final round of Baylor Missions trips will begin in July, when a group of Baylor MBA students travel to Zambia to teach a two-week intensive business course for students at Northrise University and the Baylor outdoor recreation and leadership team begins a cross-cultural relational outreach to Albanian college-age immigrants in Greece.
Young Albanian immigrants in Greece are struggling because their immigrant parents did not often land well-paid jobs in their new home, said Jeff Walter, assistant director for campus recreation facilities. Walter will lead the Greece missions trip with Kelli McMahan, lecturer and coordinator of outdoor recreation.
"So their dreams didn't come true. As a group, their dreams didn't come true economically," Walter said. "That's another thing that worries them, that their children might have a lack of initiative. If their parents' dreams didn't come true, why even try?"
Walter, McMahan and a group of 10 Baylor students will spend two weeks with a group of young Albanians, ministering to them, teaching them about American culture and learning about Albanian and Greek culture.
"And that's the mission," Walter said. "We're not building a structure, we're not building a well. We're building relationships."
Like the engineering students who traveled to Haiti, students on this trip experience change and growth, redefining what missions means, Walter said. "Missions is people being transformed by people being transformed."
For students and faculty at Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas, missions efforts go on throughout the year. They involve everything from health screenings in Dallas at Cornerstone Baptist Church's outreach ministry to serving a new church and clinic in the outskirts of Lima, Peru, to using the school's simulation equipment to educate nursing students who live in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In Langano, Ethiopia, students studying to be family nurse practitioners in March worked at a Lake Langano clinic. Local families live in straw structures called tukuls. The mothers cook inside, and the structure have no ventilation. The children frequently experience respiratory stress.
"We spend a lot of time offering cultural orientation to our students," said Lori Spies, coordinator of the family nurse practitioner program and missions coordinator. "One of our students who had cared for a very ill child visited the home and saw firsthand the situation that had made the child sick. She realized the urgent need to encourage the family to cook outside."
Several LHSON faculty journeyed to Bengaluru, India, to visit the Bangalore Hospital, administered by Dr. Rebecca Ann Naylor ('64 graduate). The hospital provides care and educates nurses, and LHSON is developing an ongoing mission relationship with the hospital.
At Cary Christian Center in Cary, Miss., in the Mississippi delta, students offered health screenings and provided nutrition and exercise information and began to understand how to work with people from different backgrounds.
Also, Dr. Shelley Conroy, dean of LHSON, led a study-abroad course in partnership with the Chinese University of Hong Kong Nethersole School of Nursing and Hong Kong Baptist Hospital. There, students studied and compared traditional medicine and alternative Chinese medicine.
"Every LHSON student and faculty member should have an opportunity to experience global nursing," Dr. Conroy said. "Our school believes in creating global citizens who are stewards of their gifts and talents around the world."
For more information on summer mission trips, or mission trips for any time of year, visit the BU Missions website.
by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
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Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "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. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.