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Evangel students serve two weeks of Christmas break in Africa

Published on Jan 15, 2016 by Paul K. Logsdon


Dr. Grant Jones and a Nairobi elephant.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — To be clear, this is not a vacation, but it certainly is an adventure.

For the tenth year, a group of 16 Evangel University students invested two weeks of their Christmas break in Africa as part of their training for careers in counseling and social work.

Dr. Grant Jones, professor of psychology and 1977 graduate of Evangel, coordinates the annual trip.

“Having grown up in Africa, and having familiarity with it and seeing the mental health needs of Africans during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I thought, ‘why not take psychology students there to share their skills and faith to people with HIV?’” said Jones.

“Now we have expanded to include providing mental health services to a variety of populations in Kenya — primarily orphans, high school students and substance abusers in rehab,” he added.

2016-01.08-A Braunberger & Sanchez, Kenya TC
EU students Aaron Braunberger and Alexandria Sanchez counseling with Teen Challenge students in Kenya, Africa. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“This year, we provided psycho-educational services to 60 orphans aged 5-19, 50 percent of which are HIV-positive,” said Jones. “We also provided group counseling for 37 addicts in a Teen Challenge residential treatment center.”

Adding to the intensity of the cross-cultural experience, the Evangel students worked with 110 high school students from the slum at Mathare Valley Child Developmental Center.

“The principal at MCDC has told me after each of the last several trips, ‘You have changed the culture of our school,’” he said.

Jones’ passion for the African people runs deep.

“It’s in my DNA — my childhood and identity were formed in Africa,” said Jones, who lived there from age two through high school.

“As a result, my goal for our students is to experience diversity in a counseling setting and consider cross-cultural counseling as a profession.”

Student’s lives are changed

2016-01.08-B Africa, Alexandria Sanchez
Alexandria Sanchez makes a new friend in Africa. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Alexandria Sanchez grew up in California and Texas, where her father was stationed with the Army. She will graduate in May with her master’s in clinical mental health counseling.

“This is my second trip to Kenya. It has confirmed my love of counseling in every way,” said Sanchez, whose goal is to work with military families.

“This truly helps challenge your skills, understanding and expectations. It is like a crash course in your future,” she said. “The Africa trip also helped me understand how much our world is in need of simple acts of kindness and most of all, God’s love.”

2016-01.08-C Kim Mundt Africa ’13
Kim Mundt traveled to Africa after Christmas 2012. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Kimberly Mundt made the trip to Kenya three years ago.

“Dr. Grant’s compassion for the children and people of Kenya, along with my desire to use faith-informed counseling skills, inspired me to participate,” said Mundt, who served as student-leader for the trip. Today, she serves as a licensed professional counselor at Neuropsychological Associates of Southwest Missouri.

“That service trip provided abundant opportunities to learn teamwork and problem-solving. It also provided the opportunity to connect with precious people from another part of the world and experience God’s transforming grace across language and culture differences.”

2016-01.08-D Kate Alsup
Kate Alsup

Kate Alsup, a 2000 alumna of West Plains High School, took the trip a year ago and graduated from Evangel in May of 2015.

“I chose the master’s program at Evangel because of its reputation for being a rigorous clinical program,” said Alsup.

“With the Africa trip, I gained clinical experience in a different culture, earned practicum hours to apply toward my degree and enjoyed life-changing experiences.”

She also enjoyed an unplanned adventure — Alsup was one of seven students stranded in Paris for two days. They eventually met up with the group, and their luggage, after a layover in Ethiopia.

2016-01.02 Grant Jones & Kenya monkey
Dr. Grant Jones is photo-bombed at the Mount Kenya Animal Orphanage. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Fortunately for all of the students, “The Africa trip concludes with a planned adventure each year — a two-day animal safari — as a reward for their hard work,” said Jones with a smile.

• For more information, contact Dr. Grant Jones at





Jan. 15, 2016 — “Evangel University students spend Christmas break in Africa” —



August 2015 — “Students spend two weeks in Mozambique, Africa” —

February 2015 — “Evangel University students raise funds for fresh water wells in Africa” —

March 2012 — “Evangel grad student counsels children with albinism” —