In the summer of 2013, Huntington University faculty, staff and students took the institutional mission to “impact the world” literally as they traveled nearly 30,000 miles round trip to serve on three continents. The mileage they logged surpassed the circumference of the Earth – 24,901 miles.
Over a January-term trip, Dr. David Alexander discovered a passion for India and overseas missions. So, when an opportunity arose, he jumped at the chance to return.
Alexander, associate professor of philosophy, spent two months in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, this summer serving as a visiting professor of philosophy at Madras Christian College, presenting research, giving lectures and participating in debates pertaining to religion and philosophy.
“India is a fascinating place,” Alexander said. “It is, in a real sense, a land full of tension or contradiction. It is beautiful. And yet, the land and the people are neglected and abused. Food is scarce all over the place. Radical wealth and radical poverty exist side-by-side. Devotion to Jesus and devotion to idols exist side-by-side. Love and hate exist side-by-side. Beauty and ugly, angels and demons, heaven and hell. It is simply shocking. And for that reason it draws me.”
Alexander’s passion for India developed after he took his first mission trip in January 2013 to the Home of Love orphanage. The experience shook him to the core.
“I became vulnerable to others in ways I have never been,” he shared. “Being in India with the girls at the home and the students from HU helped me to see how much I need to love and to be loved. Tears poured down my face as I looked at 100 girls that love so much and so authentically.”
This summer, HU faculty returned to China to lead a team of 15 to train 80 teachers and host English camps for 200 students. While university groups have made several trips to China, this was the first year that the team expanded the English camps to include high schoolers in addition to primary and middle-school students.
“These experiences help better equip us for life in the global world in which we live, and they promote awareness and a value of diversity,” said Shoshannah McKinney, associate director of the Institute for TESOL Studies, who led the trip along with Dr. Luke Fetters, TESOL director. “As we learn and live together through intercultural experiences, we recognize what we share in our humanity but also learn to value the differences we have in the diverse ways God has created us.”
Team members stayed with Chinese families in Doumen, a district in the coastal city of Zhuhai near Hong Kong and Macau. Jana Hoobler, a 1992 HU graduate, was placed in the district by the Institute for TESOL Studies and recently was hired as a teacher trainer by Doumen’s Bureau of Education. Jim O’Donnell, executive-in-residence and emeritus standing, also traveled with the team for 10 days and read his book, “Walking with Arthur,” to an English free-talk group. “Walking with Arthur” chronicles O’Donnell’s journey to faith.
Greece and Turkey
Dr. Mark Fairchild has made countless trips to Turkey, including two this summer. His first trip involved leading a tour of Greece and Turkey for the Biblical Archaeology Society and then conducting research about the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys.
At the invitation of the Turkish government, Fairchild, Luke J. Peters professor of biblical studies at HU, made a second visit to Turkey this summer, serving as a consultant to the committee writing curriculum for a Christianity course to be taught in public schools.
He led a team, including other HU faculty, in the planning and execution of a workshop that certified 37 Turkish Christians to teach the course. Huntington is currently the only institution granted permission to certify Turkish Christians for this teaching opportunity.
“For the first time in almost 600 years, Christians will have the opportunity to tell the Gospel story and correct the many distortions of Christianity that are often propagated throughout the Islamic world,” Fairchild said. “This development has the potential to create better understandings between Muslims and Christians.”
The Huntington University volleyball team learned the value of working and serving together through a summer mission trip to Ethiopia.
“I definitely think there is a higher level of team chemistry and a stronger bond between all of us as teammates and friends,” said sophomore Kelsey Kruse who traveled with the team to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. “I believe that the stronger the relationships within a team are, the more successful that team will be, and I have seen that translate onto the court.”
The team worked with more than 1,000 orphans and vulnerable children in three schools through Buckner International, a global ministry.
“We learned about the depth of brokenness and poverty in the world, what resources are needed to impact this reality, and the joy that is possible through Christ amid the darkness,” Coach Amy Settle said.
She plans to bring other teams to Ethiopia in the future in the hopes of building a school.