Baylor University Students Share Faith, Skills on Global Mission Trips

March 5, 2010

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Baylor University students and faculty, seeking to share their faith and respond to crises and needs worldwide, this year will have undertaken more than a dozen trips, among them a journey to Los Angeles to fight human trafficking, a visit to Greece to reach out to youths in military families and a trek to aid clinics and hospitals in Ethiopia and Vietnam.

Most of the trips in 2010 are organized around specific academic disciplines or comprised of persons from the same academic division, office or organization.

Here is a look at some Baylor mission trips that are planned:

Health Fair and Construction Work in Costa Rica

Faculty and staff from the Baylor School of Education and students in the Hispanic Families in Transition Engaged Learning Group will travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, over spring break in March to take part in a number of mission-related activities.

Baylor students will help young children in St. Elena Primary School with English and math and will do minor construction and repair on the aging building. Some Baylor students will also visit the International Christian School to tell students there about Baylor, since almost all the students enrolled go to America for their college education.

While in Costa Rica, the Baylor group also plans to put on a community health fair in a local Baptist church.

Capstone Trip to Africa and Inaugural Trip to Vietnam

In March, students in the Family Nurse Practioner (FNP) graduate degree program at Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing in Dallas will spend two weeks of their monthlong Capstone Trip to Africa in a missionary clinic in Ethiopia, working with nurse practitioners and learning to treat diseases and disorders common to Africa.

The clients that attend the clinic are primarily Muslim and live far below the poverty level, said Lori Spies, coordinator of the FNP program. The work of the students, who are registered nurses, will be part of a long-term Christian outreach in the area.

For the second two weeks, students will travel to Sierre Leone in West Africa to provide patient care and education for nurses and community members, working alongside resident missionaries and health care providers in Project Restore Hope.

"Rather than implementing programs to address issues we view to be most urgent the team will learn to address the areas of our collaborators' greatest concerns," Spies said. "In this way our participation enhances ongoing mission outreach and provides students with an opportunity to share their faith."

Some students hope to eventually to work in the mission field, and one of the purposes of the trip is to help them better understand what that commitment entails, she said.

While the students come from various parts of the world and varied experience -- from pediatric nursing to oncology -- "the trait they share is the desire to provide health care and education while sharing the gospel," Spies said.

A small group from the nursing school's faculty will make an inaugural trip to Vietnam in the summer to work with Global Ventures. They will provide seminars for nursing colleagues there and spend time in clinics and hospitals to better understanding health care needs.

Baylor Civil Rights Tour

Baylor students and faculty will embark for the second consecutive spring break on the Baylor Civil Rights Tour. The tour prompts students to explore key historical sites of the American Civil Rights Movement, examine the history of the Movement from various perspectives and disciplines and discuss current issues surrounding the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This experiential learning opportunity empowers students to confront complex issues, promote social awareness and work to create a more just society.

The Civil Rights Tour will take students to Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; Oxford, Miss.; Birmingham, Ala.; Selma, Ala.; Montgomery, Ala.; Atlanta; and Jackson, Miss.

The group will leave March 6 and return to campus on March 14.

George W. Truett Theological Seminary Trips

Students at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary will take part in three mission trips on three different continents.

On April 9 to 19, Truett faculty will lead 12 seminary students on a youth ministry-focused mission trip to Tolos, Greece. Baylor will partner with Malachi Youth Ministries, which reaches out to youth on U.S. military bases. For the third year, Truett students will work with Malachi missionaries to minister at an annual spring break camp for children in military families.

On the second trip, about 10 Truett students and Baylor undergraduates will visit Kigali, Rwanda, from May 16 to 30. The main purpose is to expose the students to the diverse organizations and ministries working in the area. The Baylor group will visit the Kigali Memorial Centre, which opened in 2004 on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It is built on the site where more than 250,000 victims of genocide are buried.

On the third Truett-sponsored trip, 12 students will travel to Hong Kong and India from May 22 to June 23 to learn about culture and religion and take part in local ministries.

Anti-Human Trafficking

Heading to Los Angeles in May will be a dozen students from the School of Social Work at Baylor. Los Angeles is a hub for human trafficking, whether for sexual exploitation or forced labor, and is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, after drug dealing, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The students will join Baylor graduates Aaron and Stephanie Glenn, who are involved in anti-trafficking efforts.

The students will visit agencies and churches, among them Oasis USA, NightLight USA and Saddleback Church. They also expect to hear a human trafficking survivor tell his or her story. Upon their return, they will seek to apply what they learn in local communities, said Dr. Kim Kotrla, assistant professor in the School of Social Work.

The journey is Baylor's first anti-trafficking mission trip.

Office of Spiritual Life Trips

Numerous discipline-specific mission trips are coordinated each year by Baylor University Missions, part of the Office of Spiritual Life.

In early to mid-March, general ministry teams will visit Arizona and Brazil.

In May, general ministry and leadership teams will visit Ghana in May; and five groups will visit Kenya in May, among them a medical/public health team, a general ministry team, a women's ministry team, a sports ministry team and a social work team.

Also in May, an engineering team will travel to Honduras; engineering, general ministry and social entrepreneurship teams will visit Rwanda; and an accounting team will visit Uganda.

In June and July, a youth ministry team will visit Greece.

Contact: Terry Goodrich, Assistant Director of Media Communications, (254) 710-3321

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