Wayland mission center planning several summer trips

Release Date: June 5, 2009    

By Adam Henthorn, PR intern

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University’s involvement in foreign missions stretches back to 1948, when the college began a language school in Guadalajara, Mexico. Now, in the 21st century, Wayland’s commitment to missions seems to be at an all-time high. This summer, more than 50 students and faculty will participate in mission projects in seven different countries around the world.

“The numbers are the most startling difference,” said Dr. Richard Shaw,     Director of the Kenya Program and the Wayland Mission Center. “I took four students [to Kenya] last year, this year I’m taking 27 people.”

Shaw will be leading three different missions over the summer: one to Macedonia and the Balkans, one to Greece, and another to Kenya. Wayland has had a close affiliation with Kenya since 1999, when the University partnered with the Kenya Baptist Theological College and began sending professors to teach various classes for three-week periods. Now, Wayland’s students have gotten in on the action.

This year’s group will consist of six smaller teams, each with their own specialty and purpose. These teams’ functions range from pre-med students assisting in medical camps in Misiri and Mombasa, working with orphans, teaching vacation bible schools and creating media documentaries to be used in missions projects in the U.S.

One team, headed by Kelsey Beggs, a recent Wayland graduate, will be working with water purification alongside Living Water International, a group dedicated to bringing clean water and the gospel to impoverished areas. Another team will be taking on a musical role in what Shaw says will be an “ethnomusialogical study.”

“I’m developing a hymnal of indigenous Christian songs from around the world,” Shaw says. He plans for the music team to assist him in his endeavor.

Both Shaw and the students are excited about their upcoming trip.

“I’ve always wanted to be in Africa,” says Andrew Lancaster, a junior from Earth, who will be spending six months in Kenya beginning in July. “An opportunity arose for me to go back for an extended period of time. I feel like that is what God has called me to do.”

“It’s my first time to leave the country ever, and I’m excited to be involved in a new culture,” says senior Kendra Ortego. “There’s danger, but that doesn’t bother me, just my parents.”

The particular hazards involved with this sort of mission do not seem to bother the students or Shaw, although he says they have taken proper precautions.

 “There are certain diseases that are foreign to Americans,” he says, referring to yellow fever and typhoid, among others. He also explains that Kenya is on a high alert for terrorism, and Americans are easily singled out. The group, save for one individual, are all Caucasian, which attracts immediate attention.

“There’s not really anything I can do about the color of our skin,” Shaw said.

Shaw is more than qualified to lead this particular group. Born and raised in Santa Fe, he grew up around many different cultures and religions that he feels have prepared him for what he does now. He has acquired a number or bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is fluent in eight different languages. He is a self-described people person, maintaining relationships all around the world.

“I could make friends with a rock,” he smiles. Above all this, he feels what he does is a calling from the Lord. “I couldn’t do this if I wasn’t called to do it. It’s what sustains me.”

Shaw has a two-fold goal when fulfilling his call.

“Whether it’s in Kenya or the Balkans, through our interaction we want to be the love of Christ,” he said. His second objective is to have his actions and the efforts of his teams augment the work of native churches.

He also has goals for Wayland missions, some of which he hopes will go into effect next year. Besides missions to Kenya and the Balkans scheduled for 2010, Shaw hopes to lead a team to Bangladesh and another to Micronesia in the Pacific Islands. He also hopes students who are interested in missions will have the wish to take an active part.   

“The only qualification is an interest and a desire to serve,” Shaw said.

Many of the Wayland trips are also open to individuals in the community who may want to join the mission endeavors. Cost of the trips varies by location. Those interested in participating in the mission trips are encouraged to contact Shaw at (806) 291-1162.