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For nearly a dozen years Baylor University has been sending faculty, staff, students and alumni around the globe through Baylor Global Missions.  In comparison to Baylor’s 169-year heritage, Baylor Missions is a tween.  But we are quickly growing in size and scope, which is why it seems vital to define what we do.

We refer to our missions approach as discipline-specific.  What is it?  First, let me tell you what it is not.  It is not short-term missions.  While some organizations and churches do short-term missions well, that is not our niche or calling (look for a future article on that subject).  It is not humanitarian aid.  Baylor has been known to collect and distribute resources, financial and tangible, in times of disaster or crisis (the community of West, TX was the most recent recipient).  This kind of relief is few and far in between (hopefully), but we cannot sustain it.  It is not a missionary training program.  We are not a missions agency or training center.  As a matter of fact, we are not missionaries. 

So what is it?  Discipline-specific missions emphasize our area of expertise as an institution of Christian higher education.  As a university, we are comprised of various academic units with knowledge and skill ranging from arts and sciences to professional schools.  In addition to educators and researchers, we are also practitioners—engineers, physicians, nurses, teachers, scientists, social workers, accountants, entrepreneurs, etc.   

Need an example? Dr. Bill Jordan (Mechanical Engineering, Chair) and Professor Brian Thomas (Electrical & Computer Science) partner with a local non-profit that has been supporting a community in Haiti for over 20 years.  Bill and Brian work with the local partner and Haitian community leaders to identify and prioritize needs that could use engineering expertise.  Traveling with a small group of students, the team works in conjunction with the local community to complete a project (installation of solar panel or water purification system, for example).  The team will have worked on the project for a semester leading up to the application, which is part of their classroom preparation.  Take this example and add about 70 Baylor faculty/staff (2 leaders per team), then multiply that by about 15 Baylor students per team.  That gives you an idea of the approximate number that will travel in 2015. 

 Our purpose statement, which I penned a few years back, describes it well.  {We} create tangible opportunities for faculty, staff, students and alumni to integrate faith, learning and service within a broader Christian worldview.”

To recap, Baylor is not a local church, humanitarian aid organization or missions agency.  We are an institution of Christian higher education whose mission is to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.”  Baylor Missions is one vehicle that carries it out to the full extent.

Rebecca A. Kennedy is Director of Missions & Associate Chaplain at Baylor University.  She began her career at Baylor in 1997 and has served in her current role since 2006.

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The 2014 Accounting team’s mission trip to Uganda ended May 31 after 10 days.

The “Mastering the Land” conference for pastors and pastors’ wives May 22-24 was followed by a visit to the slums in Kampala, two days working with the Suubi Children’s Center in Bukeka, and finally, exploration of the landscape in Sipi Falls.

Instead of giving an account of what the team accomplished in sweeping statements, the students shared some of their reflections about the trip:

“The thing I will take most from this trip is the focus the Ugandans had on learning. In America, we take for granted our education. I am more grateful for the chance to learn and be engaged in my studies because not everyone has that chance.” -Taylor Drake, junior

“I never expected to be shown such a strong example of servant-heartedness by the people I traveled to serve. The Ugandans taught me a lot on how to serve and love like Christ.” -Sam Gunn, junior

“This trip has been impactful in many ways, including with my faith. It was such a blessing to see a country so full of faith, hope and love. I may have come to teach business, but in reality, I learned more about life, faith and business than I could have imagined.” -Hanna Kattilakoski, junior

“This trip helped me in my learning and teaching of business, as well as improving my spiritual growth. The conference gave me a chance to learn from other cultures. Hearing my team teach others gave me confidence for the days I had to go up and speak publicly. I got the opportunity to teach 40 women about various topics, which was a great experience. As for spiritual growth, it was surprising how closely everyone related to each other on our fears and worries about the trip, so being spiritually-rooted helped us all get through hard times.” -Hannah Rauckman, junior

Thank you to everyone who prayed and supported the Accounting team’s mission trip to Uganda!

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The Accounting department and Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN) hosted a successful three-day “Mastering of the Land” business conference for pastors and pastors’ wives May 22-24 in Kampala, Uganda.

The conference, which was titled “Mastering of the Land” in reference to Genesis 3, was led by the 19 Baylor students and faculty members. It focused on the balance of business and pastorship. Topics covered include financial accounting, leadership skills, integrity in business, how to balance roles, time management and more.

This is the fifth year the Accounting department has teamed up with PDN to host a business conference for African pastors and pastors’ wives.

This is the second year recent Baylor graduate Amy Miller has attended and helped teach the conference.

"This year I have had the chance to lead small groups and get to know some individuals on a more personal level," Miller said. "I greeted people today, and I couldn’t stop smiling. The joy and hope surrounding this conference is amazing."

Richmond Wandera, President and CEO of PDN, founded the organization in 2008 with the mission to equip pastors and their wives with ministerial and life skills to facilitate better ministry performance and personal development for pastors. Pastors Discipleship Network does so through mentorship programs, conferences and resource centers.

"From an organizational standpoint, partnering with Baylor University has placed Pastors Discipleship Network with a a whole new level of credibility," Wandera said. "Before the partnership, PDN was a small organization serving 400 pastors and pastors’ wives. We knew we wanted to address business skills, but we felt ill-equipped. That has changed."

Since becoming partners with Baylor’s Accounting program in 2009, more than 1,200 pastors and pastors’ wives have been equipped with business skills.

For more information about PDN, visit www.pdnafrica.org. To view more photos and updates from the Baylor team in Uganda, join our Facebook group at facebook.com/pdnbu or follow us on Twitter @bayloracc.

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After approximately 30 hours of travel, the Accounting team arrived in Kampala, Uganda, for their annual mission trip early May 21. Despite a late flight, long lines and jet lag, the team arrived in high spirits, ready to serve.

When asked what they were most looking forward to on this mission trip, a few students answered, “sharing our knowledge,” “making relationships with the people” and “perspective.”

After only one day in the country, most students agree, they have already achieved those goals for the trip.

On the first day, the students and faculty met with Ugandan friends at the Pastor’s Discipleship Network (PDN) to prepare for the upcoming, three-day conference, “Mastering of the Land.” The conference, a business conference presented by PDN and the Accounting department for African pastors, will be held May 22-24 in Kampala.

For more frequent updates about the Accounting department’s 2014 mission trip to Uganda, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pdnbu or follow us on Twitter at @BaylorACC.

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As the Accounting department prepares to go to Uganda in May, let’s look back at last year’s trip. Last spring, 15 Baylor Accounting students and three Accounting faculty members traveled to Uganda on the department’s fourth trip since 2009.

The students hosted a series of educational workshops at Uganda Christian University. The sessions were designed to help Ugandan students learn to make decisions while considering broader implications.

Sophomore Jayson Denton said, “What surprised me most about the trip was the Ugandans’ desire to learn. They listened intently to all the advice we gave them.”

At a small grade school in rural Uganda, the students spent a few days interacting with young children and community leaders. The Accounting students consulted with business people about some challenges of the Ugandan culture, including the inability to differentiate products, lack of literacy and a fear of witch doctors.

The largest project was the annual conference with the Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN) on “Mastering the Land.”

PDN Founder Richmond Wandera said, “Baylor has helped equip more than 600 senior leaders [men and women] in business skills, accounting skills and biblical perspectives on life, money and godliness. Some of these trained leaders have stepped out and begun doing business. Many stories of transformation have been recorded and celebrated over the past three years, and we are proud in the PDN of what Baylor has been able to do among God’s people.”

The Accounting department embarks on their next mission trip to Uganda May 19. Follow their journey on Twitter @bayloracc or visit bumissions.tumblr.com/ugandaaccounting.

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Urban Missions team of the week: Children’s Recreation at Talitha Koum

Love kids? If so, this week’s team is perfect for you!

What it is: We travel to Talitha Koum, a therapeutic day care center, to spend time playing games with the children who attend the day care. TK creates a healthy environment for at-risk children to benefit their mental health and development.

When it is: Tuesday at 6 p.m.

What we need: A few more members to spend time playing with the children at Talitha Koum each week would be a huge help to this ministry!

How to help: Meet us at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center at 6 p.m. on Tuesday to join us. Email Danielle_Lawson@baylor.edu if you have any questions!

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Apply to be an Urban Missions Student Leader today!

Want to lead an Urban Missions team next year? Applications are due TOMORROW! Print yours, fill it out and turn it in to Carole by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Contact her at Carole_Meriwether@baylor.edu if you have any questions!

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Urban Missions team of the week: Restoration Haven Tutorials

This week’s team could really use some more volunteers TODAY!

What it is: We drive to Estella Maxey Apartment Complex in East Waco to help children with their homework and spend some time hanging out with them.

When it is: Monday at 4:15 p.m.

What we need: We’re looking for a few more members to help us tutor! Volunteers who can drive (it’s a short trip) would be especially helpful.

How to help: Meet us at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center at 4:15 today (or any Monday) to join. Contact Kelsey_Wiggins@baylor.edu to get involved. Hope to see you there!

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Urban Missions team of the week: Ashton Oaks Kings Club

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring a few of our Urban Missions teams that could use more help this semester. First up is Ashton Oaks Kings Club!

What it is: We carpool to Ashton Oaks Apartment Complex to spent time with kids in the community. We play games, jump rope and read with them, and more!

When it is: Wednesday from 3:45 to 5:45

What we need: We’re looking for several more volunteers to join us for the rest of this semester! We could especially use some guys to play football with the boys at Ashton Oaks.

How to help: Meet us at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center at 3:45 tomorrow (or any Wednesday) to join, and/or contact Jenna_Espinosa@baylor.edu to get involved. Hope to see you there!

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Applications for spring break and summer 2014 BU Missions trips are due tomorrow. If you’re still looking for reasons to apply, here are a few from Carole Meriwether, coordinator for Urban Missions. She wrote this list for her team going to Eagle Pass over spring break, but many principles apply to all BU Missions trips.

Why do I think you should consider submitting a last-minute application to Eagle Pass tonight?
-To continue the work that was started last Spring Break. Baylor Missions believes in committing ourselves to a location and to our community partners for a few years.  Sometimes students go multiple years, sometimes they pass the baton to others.
-To engage in meaningful work over spring break and remind ourselves to slow down, notice the world around us and take the time to read a book to a child.  
-To learn about the world in which many live. Where they are faced with issues related to immigration, rural poverty, English as a second language and more.  Sometimes we learn best by seeing and hearing from others.
-To spend time in community over spring break with others who serve in Waco. Enjoy time with diverse group of students who want to serve and to learn and to engage with the world around them. 
-To learn more about yourself, about God and about missions.
Click here to view all trip opportunities and to begin your application. Traveling across the state or across the world for missions is an incredible and unique opportunity, and we hope you’ll take advantages of the chances this university provides to learn, serve and love our neighbors, wherever they may be.