Alan Bradshaw: Teaching the Physics of Service
by Hailey Bryant, Journalist Intern
It’s no exaggeration to say that Dr. Alan Bradshaw is one of the most well-liked professors on campus. Whether he is helping with homework or asking how someone’s day has been, this physics professor is constantly, and happily, surrounded by students. “Dr. Bradshaw is an open book full of questions that help you find the answers,” explains senior Andres Gonzalez, who has served alongside Bradshaw on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. Gonzalez describes Bradshaw as “a caring man who loves sharing his time and wisdom with students.” Such qualities are why, in addition to his job as a professor, Bradshaw has emerged as one of Lipscomb Missions’ most beloved mission trip leaders.
Bradshaw discovered his passion for mission work much later in life than one might assume. When asked about his experiences growing up within the church community, he is both blunt and honest, saying, “I was really never interested in the trips that my youth group took.” It was not until his junior year of high school that he went on something that could be considered a mission trip. However, Bradshaw quickly clarifies that this trip to Texas could hardly be considered a foray into mission work, saying, “It was more about being involved in my youth group than actually serving.” Little did he know what the future held for him and his mission experiences.
In 2007, at 39 years old, Bradshaw took his first mission trip to Guatemala. He explains the shame he felt in his previous lack of service, saying, “I realized that I’d never really done any mission work and felt as though it was something I ought to be doing. Some of my students had been on ten trips!” His first trip, in 2007, was led by a group of students in the engineering department, and they spent the duration of their time in Guatemala building a house. After that experience, Bradshaw would forever be hooked on Guatemala.
This spring will be Dr. Bradshaw’s sixth trip to the place he fell in love with back in 2007. “The people are incredible,” Bradshaw explains, “They have nothing, but they are the most joyful people I’d ever met. I had never understood joy until I went to Guatemala.” When asked if he ever thought he would be leading a trip, as the upcoming trip will mark his fourth time leading students to Guatemala, he says, “It just looked so complicated. It still does! That’s why I have a student leader.”
Senior Chaslynn McAvoy served as Bradshaw’s student leader last year and will be resuming the position this year, as well. Excited to be going with her favorite team leader for the fourth year in a row, she explains, “It has been so cool to walk beside such an incredible spiritual leader and a man after God’s own heart.” She cannot say enough about the impact that her team leader has had on her, as she expresses, “I have grown so much as a person and as a follower of Christ simply because I have been blessed to know Dr. Bradshaw.”
Bradshaw has dedicated his life to serving others, whether he is teaching the subject he loves or helping to better the lives of his beloved Guatemalans. He has a simple hope for the students he leads every year, expressing that he wishes for them to gain “a deeper faith and a greater sense of their purpose in being a part of Kingdom building.” Sophomore Andrea Westrich’s words prove that he is, indeed, impacting his team members in unfathomable ways, as she says, “Dr. Bradshaw is such an inspiration to me. His wisdom and passion for loving God and loving people is a huge part of what makes his trips so awesome. He is a great leader.”
Although special in his own right, Lipscomb Missions is blessed to have many other team leaders like Dr. Alan Bradshaw. More than 120 team leaders make up the Lipscomb Missions team leader community, laying the foundation for nearly 50 different trips in 2013. Mission team leaders are comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Lipscomb. If you would like more information on mission team leadership, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.