The Profile in Excellence award is given by the OBU Alumni Association to a former student who has "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University." Each year, Profile In Excellence recipients are featured in OBU Magazine.
Many people sponsor children through organizations such as World Vision and Compassion, but not many will journey with their families halfway around the world to meet those children -- and to teach their own children firsthand about true sacrifice and love.
But OBU alum Daniel Scott flew his wife and sons from Arizona to Lesotho, Africa, in January, for that very reason. For the Arizona pastor, who has never owned a passport and never desired international travel, it was a journey of faith.
Scott, who graduated from OBU in 1996 with degrees in both religion-Bible and management, currently serves as pastor for The Church at Sun Valley in Buckeye, Ariz., where he lives with his wife, Mindy, and four children: Benjamin, age 8; Matthew, age 6; and twins Jadyn and Jordyn, age 3. Through World Vision -- an organization that works with children around the world to alleviate poverty and share the Christian faith -- the family sponsors three children from small villages in Africa. They also sponsor a child through Compassion.
In an online blog, Scott tells the story of his son, Benjamin, who faced a difficult decision involving sacrifice. Benjamin found a World Vision catalog and discovered he had enough money to buy supplies for less-fortunate people in Africa. As Christmas approached, he felt the desire for new toys for himself. In the end, Benjamin and even his younger brother, Matthew, both decided to make the sacrifice to spend some of their money on others.
In January, Scott took his wife and sons to Lesotho in South Africa to meet the children they sponsor, to spread their faith and to teach his boys about sacrifices that are sometimes necessary to do both. The twins remained at home with their grandmother.
After about 21 hours spent on a plane, the Scott family finally arrived in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. They met with a World Vision representative, Julius, who took them from the airport to the World Vision national office. After a night in a local hotel, they visited the first of the three children they support. Their family was given an immense welcome that consisted of traditional food and celebratory cultural dances.
"While we were there they also allowed me to participate in a couple of their activities such as plowing and milking," Scott said. "They all got a laugh out of how poorly I could milk a cow."
Seeing the daily challenges the villagers face was overwhelming, Scott said. They live in one- or two-room homes made of stones and mud with roofs made of grass. The homes sometimes need to be repaired after a rainstorm. They own two or three sets of clothes and live off only what few crops they can grow.
"One of the biggest challenges is just getting any kind of water," Scott said. "Thebiggest thing I took away from the first day was that although their lives were far more difficult than mine, even in the midst of this hardship they could sing hymns and praises to God."
The Scott family left early the next day to visit the last village. The village was about two hours away in the mountains, and the journey required a lot of off-road driving. Along the way, they were met by several groups of villagers who greeted them with cheering, chanting poetry, and flags that said, "Welcome Pastor Daniel and Family." Several groups of men on horseback even took turns escorting them to the village.
Scott said he wondered why the villagers made such a big deal out of his family's arrival. The World Vision representativeexplained that for the first time, the people saw there were actual people supporting them behind just the money.
"For them it meant not only dollars were given, but in their minds a fellow Christian was showing they really did care," Scott said.
Scott said the village visits were a huge success for his family. They were able to share the Christian faith with hundreds of people and remind them of God's love and compassion. They were able to see the vast differences between their lives and the lives of the villagers, yet they were reminded of how all people are equal to God.
"God has made it clear that although my wife and I may receive new insight through this experience, this visit is really for my sons," Scott said. "I'm excited to be able to invest in my children, and maybe even generations afterward. I dream about how God might show himself glorified in them throughout their lives."
For more information about the Scott family's trip to Lesotho, click here.
Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellent recipients.