Though thousands of miles apart, Oklahoma Christian University and Ghana have a bond that was formed years ago and is still intact today.
Every May, bible adjunct professor Jeff McMillon takes a group of people to Ghana to help out with the needs of the people in the Village of Hope. This year he’s taking two trips, and the first one will occur at the end of January.
“We’re continuing to support a man who digs water wells in villages for churches,” McMillon said. “There are people that have no clean water and it makes them really, really sick. So we’re going to help out with that and pay for all of the equipment.”
He usually takes students from Oklahoma Christian. For this trip though, there will be former Oklahoma Christian students and people who can contribute through their various professions.
“One of the guys going is a mechanical engineer, and he works for an NPO [nonprofit organization] called Water4,” McMillon said. “They do water well digging all around the world.”
McMillon plans to visit three schools and bring resources to the teachers as well as encourage the students to continue their education.
“We’ll probably bring them soccer balls and school supplies,” McMillon said. “We’re also going to talk about our faith in Jesus to them.”
There are mothers who live in the villages who struggle with taking care of their families, so the group will be there to provide them with an avenue through which to do so.
“We have a partnership with a lady who does vocational training with young women who don’t have skills that could help them earn a living,” McMillon said. “She trains them on how to do hair, make lotions, shampoos and soaps. And we’re trying to expand that program to another village.”
According to McMillon, it is the right thing to do for churches and believers of Christ to share blessings with others that maybe haven’t been blessed in the same ways.
“Paul basically says, ‘when I had plenty I gave you my extra,’” McMillon said. “And I know that when I don’t have enough you will share with me. The goal is equality. And that’s the summary of why I do it.”
Associate Professor of Nutrition Rae Boswell is also going on the trip. Her personal goal as a dietician is to help combat malnutrition in the children there. The mothers will be provided with packs of peanut paste that reverse acute malnutrition in four to six weeks.
The manufacturer of Enfamil baby formula will also be sending cases of the formula for the group to take with them.
“Breastfeeding is the best way for the kids there to get their milk needs,” Boswell said. “However, when the mother has HIV it can be transmitted thru the breast milk. So if we find a mom with a young infant who has no way to feed her baby, we can supply her with formula.”
Boswell said the trip will not only be life-changing to the people they serve in Ghana but also to everyone in the group. She said that spiritual growth could be a result of their service.
“I feel that God calls us in James when he says take care of the orphans and widows,” Boswell said. “Those are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to encourage them. We are gifted with the things that we have here. The Bible continuously tells us that faith without deeds is dead.”
Since the first trip will take place at the beginning of the semester, students will not be able to go. However, senior Callie White has gone to Ghana several times and plans to go again this coming May.
“I’ve always been passionate about ministry, and I’ve gone on a lot of mission trips,” White said. “There’s something about the kids at that orphanage. I love them and when I’m not there, I long to be there with them.”
According to White, a trip like that makes you learn what you can live without and changes your perspective on life. Junior Michelle Adams agrees.
“It’s hard to describe an experience like that,” Adams said. “It was amazing and definitely life changing. You go over there to help these people, and they end up helping you more.”
According to Adams, going on the trip will provide participants with a realistic worldview, because it shows that there’s more than one way to live.
“One consistent thing that struck me was the joy that these people had,” Adams said. “They have nothing. They have the dirt under their feet, and they’re so happy. Because they don’t have much, they appreciate health when they have it and their family. Their faith in God seems so much stronger than over here.”
Recent Oklahoma Christian graduate Josh Huggins will be going to Africa for the first time with the group in January.
“I’m not ready to see all the poverty and the way people live,” Huggins said. “But I am anxious to see that, because I want my eyes to be opened and to be humbled by that.”
Huggins said they are not going to change the way the Ghanaian people live but to help them become more self-sufficient.
“I’ll be the photographer and I’ll document everything,” Huggins said. “Several of us have different missions that we want to get accomplished, but nothing’s more important than just getting done what needs to be addressed when we get there.”
The group will leave Jan. 24 and will return on Feb. 1.