Ten years ago, Lipscomb sent a small group of students on a journey to serve alongside a Ghanaian ministry. Appropriately named, the Village of Hope offered the small group a service experience that they would not soon forget, opening doors to lifelong relationships and personal discoveries that none of the students or leaders could have anticipated.
After its establishment, Village of Hope became a beacon of Christian ministry and holistic support for children in the area. Though the ministry’s official mission is to nurture needy children in a holistic manner, Fred Asare, Executive Director of the ministry since 1994, shares the true scope of their outreach, saying, “Our main focus is children but we care for all needy people. We also focus on the spiritual well-being of people.” Working for the organization for so many years has been quite the shaping experience for Asare. “Working at Village of Hope has enabled me to see God at work in the world and to witness amazing transformation of seemingly hopeless lives into great lives of hope and victorious living in Christ,” he shares, “I have seen dying children and teens transform into successful, compassionate Christian adults who are making a positive impact in this world.”
The first Lipscomb group to serve with the ministry was comprised of just seven people, including three African students, and it did not take long for the team to recognize how unique the people in Ghana were. Original team member and alum Lindsey Thrasher explains her first experience, saying, “I fell hard in love with the beauty of the African people, and the work of the Village of Hope continued to pull at me over the next few years when the trip was no longer being offered.” Fortunately, Lipscomb was able to restore the Village of Hope trip in 2007, sending team after team to serve the community that would undoubtedly change their lives.
Paul Stevens, current Lipscomb Missions Coordinator, went as a student on the 2007 trip, spending the proceeding years as a team leader as well. The ability to foster meaningful relationships with those in the Village of Hope community stands out as a key feature that makes this opportunity so unique. “Relationships are the one of the most important pieces of this trip, which can seem odd considering it’s across an ocean, Stevens says, “In the time I’ve gone, I’ve been able to walk through life with individuals who were as young as the 3rd grade when I first met them who I now consider to be some of my closest friends, loving and encouraging each other along the way.”
Lipscomb alum David Gilbert has also spent many years serving with Village of Hope, going four times during his years in school, even making the choice to return on his own after graduation. When asked how these experiences shaped him, he cannot say enough, “I've noticed over the years that although these children may only have a few changes of clothes and share rooms with nine other children, that they are just as happy and capable of enjoying life as I am.” He goes on to explain, “I've learned that I shouldn't be focused on what I do have or what they don't have and just be focused on the things we have in common and the joy that can be found in just loving one another regardless of who or where they are.”
Year after year, Lipscomb students continue to find themselves serving the Village of Hope and establishing relationships that will last far beyond their weeks spent in the Ghana community. Recent graduate Emily Dunn shares another facet of the mission experience, saying, “I have learned a side of the Father's Heart through living in community with the Village of Hope. That God's love and His Body transcend geographical and language barriers.” The ability to form relationships and share love that transcends all of the many barriers seems to be the very thing that makes Village of Hope so special to those who serve the community. As director Asare simply says, “Indeed, as the old children's song goes, He's got the whole world in his hands."