Mission group returns from Macedonia

Release Date: June 19, 2008

PLAINVIEW – When Dr. Richard Shaw took the post as director of the Wayland Baptist University Mission Center last fall, a primary goal was to give students the opportunity to become more involved in mission work. To that end, he planned two mission trips for the summer. Last Sunday, a group of 17 students and volunteers returned from the Balkans where they spent time preaching, singing, teaching and sharing with the people of Macedonia and Kosovo.

Led by Dr. Shaw, the group consisted of six Wayland students, Melanie Vasquez, Taylor Phillips, Khrystyne Eckerd, Micah Evans, Amber Hamilton and Kevin Burrow, and other volunteers seeking to witness to the Albanian Muslims. The journey began in Konjare e Mesme near Skopje, the capital city, where Dr. Shaw and his wife Martha spent many years as missionaries. While there, not only did the group participate in preaching and sharing testimonies, but also the members aided in teaching English as a second language, building the local library, dealing with public health issues and running a sports camp for children. According to Shaw, Evans and Burrow brought inspired messages to the local churches and Hamilton touched the locals with hymns played on her flute.

“Empowered by the pressure to perform, she delicately meandered through hymns, spirituals and praise choruses, bringing applause and tears,” Shaw said in an email correspondence.

Shaw said Vasquez, a sophomore from Hobbs, N.M., hit it off with many of the women and children in Macedonia. Shaw said several young women and girls latched onto Vasquez and invited her into their homes for coffee, lunch and “Turkish stuff.” He said her good nature and transparent faith were effective in presenting Christ to the people.

Hamilton preached her first sermon at a church in Rahovec and was well received by the congregation. Hamilton said her experience with the people was quite inspiring.

“Overall, I was surprised at the hospitality of the Balkan people and their openness in loving others,” she said. “Many people in the U.S. are reserved with their love, being very skeptical of new people, not showing their love for others. In the Balkans, however, we were welcomed with open arms. So many times we shelter ourselves from one another and are afraid to get too close to others. As Christians we are to be transparent. We could learn a few things from these people.”

Eckerd echoed Hamilton’s sentiment.

“I left these people a different person,” she said. “God used them to change me. They showed me the true meaning of loving others.”

The Mission Center is also sponsoring a trip to Kenya this summer. For more information on being involved with the Wayland Mission Center, contact Dr. Rick Shaw at 806-291-1162.