21 Schools, 100 Friends, and 1 Mission
by Hailey Bryant, Journalist Intern
What do Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Purdue have to do with Lipscomb Missions? How about SEC football powers Alabama, Auburn or Florida? Anyone familiar with Lipscomb University knows the prevalence of missions on campus. Each year, hundreds of students, faculty and staff members take off in all directions across the country and around the world to serve. Yet did you know that an astounding 20% of those who go on Lipscomb mission trips are not students or employees? This 20% is comprised annually of more than 50 alumni along with more than 100 “friends of Lipscomb”, all of who are valuable assets on Lipscomb mission trips.
In the last five years, Lipscomb Missions has had students from 21 different colleges and universities partner serve by participating in our mission efforts. Along with the previously mentioned universities, students from the following institutions have also found a place to serve within Lipscomb Missions: Abilene Christian, Belmont, Faulkner, Freed-Hardeman, Harding, Middle Tennessee State, Motlow State, Nashville State, Penn State, Samford, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Trevecca, UT Chattanooga and Union.
Sarah Farrow, a 2010 graduate of Auburn University, always felt as though she was being called to Australia. However, the only opportunity to travel to such a place would have been an academically focused study abroad program. Studying in the library one day during her senior year, she found herself expressing this calling to a friend. Her friend was the mutual acquaintance Farrow needed to find ministry in Australia. Farrow’s friend quickly connected her with childhood friend and then Lipscomb student Taryn Hill (’11) who had been on two summer mission trips to Brisbane, Australia. “When this came up, I couldn't help but see God's hand orchestrating the opportunity to go,” says Farrow.
“As we were in the midst of team formation for that Brisbane 2010 trip, I remember telling my wife one day that we desperately needed an older, more mature female, hopefully one that could help facilitate our Children’s Ministry activities during the trip,” says Mark Jent, Brisbane team leader and Director of Missions Outreach. “About 30 minutes later, Sarah calls and she introduced herself as a Senior who was an Elementary Education major. I almost dropped the phone as I laughed and I found myself in awe of God’s humor and faithfulness.”
Farrow took the leap and found herself on a team comprised of completely new faces; though, she was not as intimidated by that fact as one might imagine. “I really enjoyed being an outsider,” Farrow shares, “It made it more of an adventure to go with a group I’d never met, not to mention with a school I’d never heard of! My host family welcomed me into their home and taught me the ropes of Australian life. I loved the way the trip was deeply rooted in building relationships.” Three years later Farrow finds herself still keeping in touch with her Aussie host family and friends.
Mallory Peterson, who completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Florida, has participated in multiple Lipscomb mission trips, as well. “I was majoring in engineering,” she shares, “but I soon struggled with the idea that I would be choosing a life of prosperity over one of service.” Discovering the servant-oriented side of an engineering career was an exciting find, “My friend and fellow UF student Katie Erickson simply did a Google search for engineering mission trips. From there she got connected with Lipscomb Missions, went on the 2009 Guatemala Engineering trip, then brought three more of us with her in 2010.”
“I felt that God had called me to engineering for a reason, even if just to witness to my co-workers,” says Peterson. “Of course UF being a large public school does not offer mission trips, only study abroad so this was exactly what I had been looking for, an opportunity to serve using my specific gifts.”
This experience also proved to be quite valuable as Peterson says, “Through my time on these Lipscomb mission trips, I have learned more about engineering than in six years of obtaining two degrees.” Through trips like these, students like Peterson are realizing their place in furthering the Kingdom. Peterson’s story did not stop as she graduated from the University of Florida for a second time, as she continues her involvement with Project Ulpan in Guatemala. She now finds herself leading teams to Guatemala on her own, as she did in April with a group of professionals from the non-profit Engineers Without Borders. “Every trip challenged me and helped shape who I am today.”
Current Middle Tennessee State University student, Trevor Ball, will serve on the Lipscomb Ghana team next month. He discovered Lipscomb Missions through his girlfriend who attends Lipscomb. The couple had been searching for an opportunity to deepen their relationship by serving alongside one another. “Due to being heavily involved with sports in high school and other commitments getting in the way, I just haven't really had the opportunity to go anywhere,” Ball explains. However, this summer will bring a new experience, one of which the MTSU freshman is looking forward to. “I'm most excited about being able to join the Spirit of God where He is already present and working in Ghana,” he says.
“We love welcoming friends of Lipscomb into our community. Obviously our own students have first priority on open spots with our trips, but then we empower our team leaders to form the team that is best suited to serve their host ministry,” says Jent. “Time and time again we find ourselves being approached from students across the state, or even the country, who are simply looking for a place to serve. We gladly accommodate as they join us on a mission as we try to make a small difference in the world.”