Athletes, veterans prepare for winter break mission trips

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While the campus grows quiet later this week at the conclusion of fall semester final exams, three groups of students are busily making final preparations for winter break mission trips.

ghana_pic_1Three mission teams comprised of nearly 60 students and staff, will embark on short-term mission trips during the upcoming winter break.

On Friday, Dec. 14, a team of eight students, alumni and staff representing Lipscomb’s Veteran Services Center will travel to Haiti where they will partner with Mission Lazarus. The team is comprised of veterans of the Air Force, Army and Marines. While there, the team will build a house for a family in Haiti. The team will return Dec. 21.

This is the second mission trip for the Veteran Services Center. In June 2011, a team of eight partnered with Mobile Medical Disaster Relief on a mission near Lake Volta in Ghana, West Africa.

“Our student veterans are such a vital part of our community here on campus. They come to us extremely service-minded from the outset as they have devoted years of their life to serving our country,” said Mark Jent, assistant director of missions. “It’s great that they want to serve in another way as they give themselves to humanitarian mission initiatives.”

A group of 20 track and field and cross country athletes and staff will also leave for Haiti Dec. 14. The team went to Haiti in August for a mission project and are returning this month to work at the Cap Haitian Children’s Home. The home is directed by Lipscomb alums Hunter and Jillian Kittrell. Coach Bill Taylor will be joining the team for his first mission project.

Another team of more than 30 Lipscomb athletes, staff and friends will leave for Honduras on Dec. 29 where they will partner with Mission Lazarus. Athletes from the baseball, men’s and women’s golf teams, men’s soccer team and the track teams are among the participants in this mission. While in Honduras, the team will be focused on building an adobe brick house for a family along with other hands-on projects that Mission Lazarus has awaiting their arrival.

There is a growing interest among athletes for participating in mission projects, according to T. J. McCloud, missions coordinator, external affairs.

“We have tried to carve out times and opportunities for athletes to serve together. Their opportunities to participate in mission trips has tended to be limited throughout their lives as they have invested a lot of time in practice of their sport,” he said. “There has been an amazing interest from our athletes in participating in mission trips. They want to serve.”

McCloud said athletes have been a good fit for some of the short-term mission efforts at Lipscomb.

“Athletes know how to function as a team. They know how to use their strengths and to pick up the slack when they need to. They have a unique understanding of each other and the discipline that it takes to be an athlete at this level. They are a perfect fit for these short-term projects. We get to see our athletes be leaders on a different playing field. We’re helping to create a new culture for what it means to be a Lipscomb athlete.”

In 2012, the Lipscomb community participated in a record 47 mission trips that involved more than 670 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. For 2013, Jent said he anticipates that more than 700 participants will be a part of 50 planned mission trips, another milestone for the university mission program.

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