Summer of Service

By Heidi Heater, a junior from Jackson, Ky.
Originally published in the
Asbury Collegian April 10, 2008

WILMORE, KY—Junior Rebekah Witzer, sophomore Samantha Hargett and senior Rebekah Lyons are three of 17 Asbury college students who will travel to one of 12

Josiah Littrell ’07 received the Initiative grant to go to Guatemala in 2005. In it’s fifth year, the Grant has sent more than 60 students to developing countries all over the world.

countries for all-expenses paid international internships through the Asbury College Initiative Grant Program.

Witzer will work with the New Day Foster Home. This program is an umbrella of the New Day Creations Factory and Community Center in China. Witzer will work with the children, many of whom have special needs, such as congenital heart diseases and skin and limb dissimilarities.

Witzer’s family has adopted three children from China, and Witzer has been interested in the country since her family first adopted. She knew China would play a larger role in her life when she visited her brother’s orphanage in 2006.

“Being there opened my eyes. I saw it first-hand, and it made me want to be there and want to help because my three siblings are taken out of [Chinese orphanages] now, but there are so many more kids that need help,” Witzer said.

Last summer, Witzer spent two weeks at New Day, but after a planned trip to China over Christmas fell through, Witzer almost gave up returning. After watching an Acting on AIDS video, she said God renewed her interest in China and she knew she had to return to show the children tangible love.

“Since they’re little kids, they don’t really know that there are people out in other countries praying for them,” she said. “The only love that they know is through people right there. I want to show them that love personally and show them that there is hope outside of the foster home situation that they’re in.”

Hargett and fellow sophomore Sarah McKeown will partner with Adventures in Missions to travel to a South African health clinic to assist doctors.

“Especially last year, I really felt God calling me to consider missions, and Africa has been really placed on my heart,” Hargett said. “I’m not sure what I want to do when I graduate from medical school, but there is a good possibility that I will be overseas somewhere, and this trip will give me great experience.”

Throughout her time in South Africa, Hargett hopes to be a blessing to others by being a servant. “I want to see how God is moving in a part of the world that I’ve never been before,” she said. “I also would like to see if this is what God has really called me to—a life of missions.”

Lyons will work at Grace International School in Thailand and assist with high school and elementary music programs and physical education classes.

Like Hargett, Lyons also wants to see whether overseas missions work is in her future and see how the Christian church operates in a country other than the U.S.

“I’ve always been interested in the possibility of teaching overseas, and yet, I’ve never gone to another country myself to really know what it’s like and whether it’s something that would work well with me,” Lyons said.

Although Lyons isn’t sure of her specific jobs at Grace International, she knows she will be loving people by meeting their needs.

“My greatest desire is to love the people there and relieve any burdens that they have,” she said. “Right now, they’re short staffed. My greatest joy is taking the load off of people’s shoulders, and I think I’ll get to do that a lot there.”

The Asbury Initiative Grant was established in 2003 with a pledge of $1 million from Asbury alumna Phyllis McRoberts West and her husband, Stephen R. West, in honor of the life and ministry of alums Dr. and Mrs. Ernest M. and Jennie Sue Groce Steury, who served as missionaries in Kenya with World Gospel Mission. The grant is designed to allow Asbury College students to serve in developing countries that are part of the international community.

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