To the Corners of the Earth: Baylor Bears Summer Missions
WACO, Texas (Sep. 5, 2017) One photo is all it takes for Melanie Smith to recall and retell her favorite mission trip memory.
In this photograph, Smith poses with her new friend John, a Kenyan man who has been battling HIV/AIDS. Smith, along with a group of Baylor students, had visited his home and brought him cleaning supplies. To Smith, this was merely a small act of service; to John, this meant the world. Overwhelmed with gratitude, John requested just one thing in return: a photograph. As Smith held John in her arms and smiled, her favorite moment was captured both on film and on her heart.
“I felt like God was right there in the room with us,” said Smith, international programs coordinator for Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement Programs Coordinator and faculty leader. “It was the Holy Spirit, ‘goose bumps’ moment in my life.”
As Smith and her group of female students experienced this moment in a small village in Kenya on their Women’s Leadership Mission Trip, nearly 300 other Baylor students were visiting nine countries as part of Baylor Summer Missions. Each year Baylor sends its students to the corners of the earth to serve others, share the gospel and make a difference in the world. The students on these trips bring home their experiences and are able to extend it further through long-lasting projects and partnerships.
“Baylor trips connect you with the country and focus on building lasting relationships and then projects that will better the school, the orphanage, the ministry, the goal and purpose for each contact we have,” said Smith. “This year one of the students has started her own non-profit and GoFundMe account to raise funds for New Hope School in Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya, the second largest slum in the world. She is raising money to feed the families that cannot leave their home due to the violence after the Presidential election in Kenya. Passion put to practice to meet a purpose is the Baylor mission way and that is the gospel way also, I believe.”
In addition to Kenya, student teams and faculty leaders also traveled to Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Uganda and Zambia, as well as to local cities around the United States. Each mission trip consists of a different discipline and focus so that students are able to use their talents and passions in a way that best serves the community around them. Kerry Morley, a senior at Baylor studying social work, went on the two-week long Uganda Accounting mission trip. It was here that Morley and 18 other students were able to train pastors how to run a business and to teach children and young adults the life skills they will need to help their community.
“Hearing testimonials from the people I met on my mission trip made me realize that no matter how different we may seem, we all have similar struggles and experiences and are all searching for and cultivating our relationship with the Lord,” said Morley. “Being able to make those connections is what really matters. The house you may build or the school you help fix will all fade with time, but those stories, those true testimonies of faith, will honestly last forever.”
While in Uganda, the team of students partnered with Pastor Discipleship Network, an organization that trains and equips pastors to study, practice and teach God’s word accurately. Although the trip was focused on accounting, Morley commented that anyone can find a role on Baylor’s mission trips with one common goal: serving the Lord and preaching the gospel message.
Across the world in Costa Rica, a first-year mission trip took place in several locations around the country. Here, Baylor’s new “Science, Communication and Environmental Stewardship Team” visited several organizations to teach leaders about environmental management and stewardship applied to farms, parks and wildlife refuges. As a new trip, the group consisted of 10 Baylor science and photojournalism students, two faculty and two guests. Through observation and practice, the students wrestled with what it means to love and care for their community and global neighbors, as well as how to integrate their faith and calling with their career.
“This summer, a new interdisciplinary team to Costa Rica combined photojournalism majors with students in the sciences to exercise their technical skills but also learn how collaboration between arts and sciences can be leveraged to steward and tell the story of God’s creation effectively,” said Holly Tate, assistant director for missions at Baylor. “These interdisciplinary initiatives are allowing for students to present their respective academic perspective to enhance and diversify the way we approach community challenges and solutions around the world.”
Just south of Costa Rica in South America, another group of students went on mission to the city of Maceio, Brazil. Partnering with the Brazilian Sports Coalition, 42 student athletes, four coaches/staff and one alumnus worked with young adults to share the gospel, serve the community and unite through their love of sports. Baylor student-athletes from the football, basketball, soccer, track, equestrian, volleyball and softball teams used local churches and sports clinics to reach children of all ages and show them Christ through their actions. Former Director of Sports Ministries, Wes Yeary, has led the trip for the past two summers and loves watching the relationships that grow out of the experiences abroad.
“I appreciate how Baylor Missions desires for you to commit to building a long-term partnership with the ministries you serve alongside,” said Yeary. “My favorite memories are seeing the impact certain experiences have on individual athletes and the transformation that takes place in their lives. Times like walking through the slums to deliver supplies to families, waking up to feed street kids before the sun arises, doing clinics in prisons or doing a foot washing in a village were life-impacting experiences for so many of our student-athletes.”
From the slums of Kenya to the streets of Brazil and from the island of Haiti to the neighborhoods of Washington D.C., Baylor Bears impact the lives of thousands as they spend their summers on mission. Each year, Baylor hosts a variety of trips all over the world for students to get involved in. Some locations remain the same and some new locations are added, but the experiences and memories will never be forgotten. For more information about this year’s trip and upcoming Baylor Mission Trips, visit the Baylor Missions .
OTHER SUMMER 2017 MISSION TRIPS:
Ghana Education and Community Health Team: This team of 13 focused on education and community health matters in rural Ghana. Some students worked alongside teachers in the village of Kyerekrom and participate in cultural sharing activities which focused on literacy and building reading comprehension. Other students presented interactive lessons on physical and mental health matters.
Guatemala Kappa Kappa Gamma Team: 15 Baylor KKG members and two Baylor staff leaders traveled to Antigua, Guatemala to work with special needs children at the Hermano Pedro Hospital. They interact with the kids and help the nurses perform tasks such as feeding and washing.
Haiti Engineering Team: A team of nine students and two faculty members traveled to Cap Haitien, Haiti to partner with a Haitian foundation to install a solar photovoltaic system. This system provides electricity to their nine-acre compound where a school and several homes are run.
Kenya Men’s Choir Team: 70 male students, three guests and two Baylor faculty members sang, danced and drummed their ways into the hearts of the people in and around Nairobi, Kenya. After months of learning uplifting songs in Swahili, this group performed numerous concerts for local congregations and schools.
Nicaragua Christian Pre-Health Fellowship (CPF) Team: This team of 21 undergraduate pre-health students and 2 faculty members partnered with Praying Pelicans Missions in Managua, Nicaragua for one week to set up medical clinics for children. They also hosted a VBS camp, performed lice checks and passed out parasite prevention pills for over 200 kids.
Zambia Business Consulting Team: This team of nine students and two faculty members worked with Family Legacy to serve orphans in Zambia who have finished high school and are taking a gap year before the next phase in their lives. This team helped the young graduates identify their personal strengths and create career plans to accomplish their goals.
Alaska Baylor Religious Hour (BRH) Choir Team: This team of 18 students and two faculty leaders partnered with Alaska Missions to share the gospel and serve the community of Anchorage.
Arkansas Phi Lamb Team: Students from Phi Lamb (Sigma Phi Lambda) partnered with a variety of community organizations including Urban Promise and Second Baptist Church. Their trip included many service projects, hospital visits and interactions with youth.
Washington D.C.- Hunger in America Team: A group of nine students and two faculty members learned about the policies, organizations and programs affecting hungry individuals in America. While in D.C., the students learned about emergency food assistance and federal nutrition policies. In addition, they were also able to experience these programs first hand as they served in food banks and pantries.
by Brooke Battersby , student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
ABOUT BAYLOR MISSIONS
BU Missions seeks to create tangible opportunities for students to understand how they can use the knowledge and skills they gain here at Baylor to love people around the world and in the Waco community.
As part of the Office of Spiritual Life at Baylor University, Our Mission is to nurture theological depth, spiritual wholeness and missional living in the students, staff and faculty at Baylor University by offering integrated formational programming, transformative missional experiences, competent pastoral care and worship that is responsive to the Christian Tradition and sensitive to the culture.
Global Missions collaborates with faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds along with our global partners in order to implement spiritually rich and challenging experiences for our students. It is our hope that the students who participate in the trips not only enjoy the experience (which is important), but also discover a sense of vocation and calling as they see first-hand how they can use their discipline to serve.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 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 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.