Baylor University and Africa New Life Ministries Announce Partnership
Both organizations commit to efforts through research, service opportunities to address issues of systemic poverty
WACO, Texas (Feb. 4, 2021) – Baylor University has announced the establishment of a partnership with Africa New Life Ministries, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon, creating the Baylor Africa New Life Initiative. The agreement formalizes a partnership, led by Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, that seeks to address and resolve systemic poverty through research and sustained engagement with the communities served in the Republic of Rwanda by Africa New Life Ministries.
The partnership arose from a shared faith commitment and foundational core values between the two institutions. Illuminate, Baylor's strategic plan to expand the institution's impact as a Christian research university, directly aligns with Africa New Life’s missional commitment to transform lives and communities through preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and through acts of compassion.
Baylor, led by the faculty of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, and Africa New Life Ministries have been in conversation for several months to explore how their particular community connections, resources and areas of expertise could be combined to create innovative solutions to systemic poverty and community building throughout Rwanda, with specific focus in such areas as public health and nutrition, education, community development and faith formation. The Initiative will build from Africa New Life Ministries’ existing programs in educational sponsorship, as well as public health programs, community development and initiatives to share the Gospel in Rwanda through church planting and theological training for pastors.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to enter into a partnership with Africa New Life Ministries – a partnership that will connect our faculty and students with service-learning opportunities and new relationships that will foster rich growth in our research enterprise as we work with this respected and dedicated organization,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “As a Christian institution, we are excited to partner with an organization whose focus and mission has been to amplify the Gospel, while meeting communities’ needs in practical, transformational ways.”
The Baylor Africa New Life Initiative will focus on two general areas of partnership: conducting applied, interdisciplinary research that promotes human flourishing for vulnerable women, children and families in Rwanda, and creating transformational experiences for Baylor students, faculty and others that develops character and contributes to spiritual formation.
The focus on human flourishing and building research capacity supports Baylor’s commitment to achieving Research 1 status as an institution of higher learning. These efforts have empowered University researchers to better address the world's most significant challenges, including poverty, with a sense of urgency and increased financial resources. The two organizations hope their partnership will result in greater resources to address systemic poverty, from greater advocacy for policy change surrounding such issues as poverty and public health, to leadership development and continuing education opportunities, to effective solutions to the systemic challenges resulting from poverty at the community level. Baylor University and Africa New Life also hope that the experiential learning opportunities and engagement with Baylor’s student population will help prepare them to engage with the world as citizens and leaders sourced in faith and integrity.
Faculty from Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences’ departments of Public Health, Human Sciences and Design and Communication Sciences and Disorders will participate in interdisciplinary research within the 12 schools and colleges at Baylor, as well as partner with Africa New Life Ministries on areas of research spanning multiple disciplines and subject matters. Baylor University also has begun fundraising efforts, as part of the Give Light Campaign, to resource the partnership.
The Initiative already has received endowment support through the establishment of the Mathias Family Endowed Fund, which will provide resources for faculty and students to pursue international research, mission or ministerial work through the Initiative.
Matt and Deborah Mathias, of Austin, are parents to Mason Mathias (BA ’18) and two current Baylor students, Alexa and Jenna Mathias. The Mathias family’s connections to African New Life Ministries began when Matt and Deborah sponsored three children of similar ages and genders to their children through the nonprofit. The family became involved, eventually taking several trips with ANL to Rwanda to support the ministry. Deborah has traveled with ANL on 18 trips since 2013 in support of ANL. The family’s endowed fund was established as an extension of the family’s commitment to the dual approach of Christian relief in providing both physical and spiritual healing to strengthen communities and improve the lives of others. Matt Mathias is founder of Mathias Partners, a commercial real estate brokerage, investment and development firm in Austin.
Beyond endowment support for program and travel resources, the University also will seek funding to build container clinics, shipping containers that are outfitted as medical clinics for the Rwandan townships where Africa New Life Ministries provides services. Mission trip and study abroad funding also will provide resources for Baylor students participating in the Initiative.
“We are grateful for our Baylor parents, alumni and friends who have already given to support this exciting partnership with Africa New Life Ministries,” said Rodney G. Bowden, Ph.D., dean of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. “This partnership provides exciting opportunities to engage our students in service-learning projects and connect them with research and the real-world application of evidence-based solutions to our world’s most significant and pervasive problems surrounding poverty and community health. We are grateful to work and teach at a University that seeks out organizations that share our Christian worldview and that intersect with our research priorities and ministry aspirations.”
Africa New Life Ministries focuses on four areas of action: educational sponsorship, community development, health initiatives and growing faith. Founded in 2001, Africa New Life today sponsors nearly 10,500 students in Rwanda, including more than 750 post-secondary students. The organization also supports more than 500 pastors and Bible students enrolled at Africa College of Theology, provides more than 2.25 million meals annually to its communities, and founded and helps fund the Dream Medical Center Hospital, the second-largest hospital in Rwanda. To learn more about the ministry, please go to www.africanewlife.org.
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 19,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT ROBBINS COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University was established in 2014, a result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, and the University’s Illuminate strategic plan. The anchor academic units that form Robbins College – Communication Sciences and Disorders; Human Sciences and Design (formerly Family and Consumer Sciences); Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Occupational Therapy; Physical Therapy; Public Health; and Division of Health Professions – share a common purpose: improving health and quality of life. The College’s curricula promotes a team-based approach to transformational education and research that has established interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving quality of life for individuals, families and communities. For more information, visit baylor.edu/chhs.