OBU Alum Works to Develop Community Life in Mexico

Oklahoma Baptist University alum Emily Sengel left Bison Hill with a passion to make a difference. Through a unique career opportunity, Sengel will have the chance to pursue her passion beginning this fall in an international development endeavor.

Sengel, a 2008 graduate from Tulsa, Okla., committed to spend the next two years in Reynosa, Mexico, developing and coordinating community programs for a struggling neighborhood called Boy's Town.

"Drugs run rampant in Boy's Town," Sengel said. "They're bought, sold, abused, etc. Many of the people within the walls are there to feed their addictions. Others are trying to support families back home, so they send their money to them. Basically, our hope is to help people get out of the entrapments of their addictions and out of Boy's Town."

Sengel's hope for Boy's Town's future, however, is not shared by the local community.

"It's been there for 150 years, and the churches in the neighborhood around Boy's Town have the philosophy, ‘They don't bother us, we won't bother them,'" Sengel said.

Sengel's passion for Boy's Town's transformation ignited during a trip with Believer's Church in Tulsa, Okla. - the sponsor of the program - to help with different projects in the neighborhood.

"I went down on a trip with my college group my sophomore year and my heart was completely broken for the people of Boy's Town," Sengel said. "I knew God was asking me to move to Reynosa and love and befriend them."

At that time Kelly Green, the pioneer of the Boy's Town ministry from Believer's Church, had already begun planning for Boy's Town's future and was looking for individuals who could share in her passion for the neighborhood. As Sengel learned more about the community and Green's vision, she wanted to become more involved.

"I feel like this is the life I've been called to live," Sengel said. "I feel like God has called us to be missionaries wherever we are. My place is Mexico. I've been called to live a life of love in Mexico."

As Sengel makes the transition to Reynosa, she will join Green to begin development of the Boy's Town neighborhood. Sengel and Green plan to develop a community center, community meals, nighttime day care, prayer rooms and transitional housing for the Boy's Town residents.

While beginning plans for the neighborhood, Sengel and Green also focused on building programs for the Boy's Town children.

"We have spent a lot of time having block parties, eating and playing games with the kids," Sengel said. "I am really excited to begin to enrich the kids' lives. They don't have any education so my hope is to be, in a very non-traditional way, a teacher to them."

Sengel currently is preparing for her time in Mexico by attending language school in Guatemala. She will begin her ministry in Reynosa at the end of October.

"OBU has prepared me in a lot of ways for Boy's Town," Sengel said. "By opening my mind to the way I view the world, by helping me realize my responsibility to help the world and to love people, and by providing me with a supportive community that wanted to hear what God was doing in Reynosa by encouraging me to follow what God was calling me to do. Those two years of preparation have made all the difference for me."