In late May, seven OBU students and one staff member journeyed abroad. Their destination: Zambia. Their objective: To offer the hope of eternal life in Jesus to the Zambian people.
The students' month-long Global Outreach trip was split into two parts, the first half spent church-planting in the remote village of Isoka, and the second spent serving children at the New Day Orphanage in Mapanza.
With the help of his family and the Baptist Mission of Zambia, church planter and missionary Blake Kimbrough has been taking the gospel to many unreached villages for more than six years. Kimbrough is a representative of the International Mission Board and part of the Northern Evangelism Team in Zambia.
While many students are involved with ministry at OBU, in Shawnee's and in surrounding communities, few are privileged to experience hands-on ministry under the leadership of a church planter.
"I've had pastors pour into me, but never a church planter like this," said Hannah Burnett, a sophomore family and community services major from Richardson, Texas. "This was a completely different experience for me."
With the experience of serving alongside a full-time church planter, students witnessed firsthand the challenges faced when planting seeds of hope with people who are unfamiliar with the Gospel. With barely more than 1,000 Baptist churches in Zambia today, servants such as Kimbrough and others in the Baptist Mission of Zambia hope to reach the "God-sized goal" of 10,000 churches.
During the first leg of the Global Outreach trip, the OBU group camped out in the Zambian bush, hiking miles to and from areas neighboring the village of Isoka. In the village, they spent time with local people to build relationships and, when possible, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dayla Rowland, who serves as student ministry associate of evangelism and mobilization at OBU, led the trip. She said one of her favorite things in the African bush was the night sky. With no nearby cities or bright light sources, the Zambian sky is free of light pollution, allowing the stars to shine brighter than most people probably have seen. Viewing the countless stars and Milky Way system each night before bed was "an incredible reminder that the Lord is Creator God," Rowland said.
Following their two weeks building relationships in Isoka, the OBU students travelled 14 hours by truck to the town of Mapanza. In this location, the students spent 10 days serving children at New Day Orphanage, working alongside missionaries Blu and Darbi Tidwell.
"Ever since (the Tidwells) moved to Zambia … I thought that one day I would love to work with them," Rowland said. "This trip was the fruition of that dream."
The vision of the New Day Orphanage (NDO) is to give Zambian orphans hope for the future by fusing together three necessary elements to success in this third-world country: A Christian worldview, Zambian culture and a quality education. OBU students assisted in the "Christian worldview" aspect of the orphanage's mission.
Students connected with the children by teaching electives at school, visiting the local clinic and conducting a soccer camp for the kids. In addition to ministering to the children, the students also assisted in the construction of a cheese cave to serve the orphanage's practical needs of food preservation storage. The students' impact at the orphanage proved not only significant and meaningful to the Zambian children, but also to the OBU students themselves.
"I encourage all students, faculty and staff to take an opportunity to 'go'," Rowland said.
Participating in Global Outreach Trips helps fulfill the mission of OBU students, faculty and staff on Bison Hill who seek to engage a diverse world. An entire week of OBU's fall semester - called "GO Week" - is devoted to educating students about opportunities to serve through international missions experiences such as the Zambia trip, as well as local and regional venues.
"You learn things when you go somewhere unfamiliar," Burnett said. "It changes you. Challenges you. Deepens your faith."
About 60 OBU students, faculty and staff participated in GO Trips during the summer 2012 semester. Click here to learn more about OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach.
Click here to learn more about the New Day Orphanage in Mapanza, Zambia.