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Community Relief and Development: A Transformative Practicum Experience

Baylee Burger, senior Biology major with a minor in Community Relief and Development, recently traveled to Zambia for her practicum.  

“I’ve always felt a call towards missions,” she said. “I fell in love with Africa when I went on a short-term missions trip with my church to Tanzania in 2018. Ever since then I’ve jumped at every opportunity to go back. In 2019, I went on a medical missions trip to Zambia with Evangel and met Dr. Heather Marten and Christine Little.”

After returning from her 2019 trip, Baylee immediately wanted to return. “I needed an internship for my minor, and I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do more, so I reached out to Heather about returning on my own. Heather pointed me towards AGWM and MAPS, I filled out all the applications, got approved, planned the dates, and before I knew it, I was flying to Zambia by myself. I was a wonderful mix of scared and excited for what the next six weeks would hold.”

Baylee’s main purpose during her time there was to shadow Dr. Marten at the clinic and assist in cervical cancer screenings. “Unfortunately, it was the height of Zambia’s second wave of COVID, so most of our outreaches were canceled. I still went to the clinic every week and helped prepare things for outreaches, but it was a lot slower-paced than the jam-packed, short-term trips I was used to. The practicum gave me an entirely new perspective on Africa and on missions. I think I’ve always seen my calling as something that would happen when I graduated from Evangel, but the trip showed me that God can work in amazing ways no matter what stage of life we are in and that God works in His own time. Going to Africa in the middle of a pandemic didn’t feel like the right timing, but God used it and it was extremely humbling. One thing I will never forget is when we went to the funeral of a man who died of COVID. There were five funerals going on simultaneously just in our corner of the cemetery the hour that we were there and hundreds of new graves. It really puts things in perspective.”

“My most impactful day In Zambia was also my last full day there. We went to a street kid ministry and spent the morning doing a health lesson, Bible Study, and playing with the children. All of the children were separated from their families for one reason or another, whether it was the death of their parents or an abusive household, and the facilities were less than ideal. The man who ran it shared that there were many mornings when they had no idea where food for the children would come from, but God always miraculously provided. Some of the ‘kids’ had completed high school and were accepted into universities or had good jobs lined up despite their difficult circumstances. The whole experience reminded me how much I love working in children’s ministry, and I feel as though God wants me to continue pursuing that.”

“I learned so much in Zambia that I couldn’t possibly summarize it. Working in the clinic gave me hands-on medical experience that will help me as I pursue work in that field, I got to see the ins and outs of day-to-day life as a missionary, and I soaked up so much wisdom from my hosts about poverty alleviation. After graduation, I’m moving here to Springfield and taking a break from school for a while. I want to have more time to dedicate to volunteering in my church and completing the requirements to get minister credentials through the AG. Eventually, I want to go to PA  or nursing school, so I can do medical missions full-time.”

If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in Community Relief and Development, contact us.

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