March 23, 2018 : By Tobi Walsh-Laukaitis
More than 90 students, faculty, and staff members from Liberty University have been making the most of their Spring Break by serving the country of Rwanda this week. They are building homes, visiting hospitals, and participating in a series of service projects. Many of them are also getting the unique opportunity to meet the children they sponsor through Compassion International.
The work is all part of the university’s new G5 initiative, an effort to impact a country each year by displaying the same Christ-like attributes from Galatians 5. The initiative, coordinated through Liberty’s Office of Spiritual Development, kicked off in a Convocation last fall, where Rwanda was announced as this year’s country. Comedian and Compassion International supporter Jeff Foxworthy shared his own experience in Rwanda. Since then, faculty and students from different departments throughout the university have become involved, sponsoring children and signing up for the Spring Break trip.
While the university’s LU Send program regularly offers overseas cultural trips (there are 18 trips this week, to 16 countries), Vice President of Spiritual Development Josh Rutledge said the Rwanda trip is one of the largest ever for the program.
“Last September, students heard all about what God is doing in this country of Rwanda when Jeff Foxworthy and his family came to campus,” he said. “Now, they’re seeing it with their own eyes. That’s one of the purposes behind a trip like this — to be both humbled and awakened to the work of God, not just in your own life and community, but in the life of the world.”
After Foxworthy’s visit, Liberty students, faculty, and staff sponsored close to 1,000 children through Compassion International. Their monthly financial support provides children with medical care, food, a chance to attend school, and opportunities to hear the Gospel. Liberty is now the organization’s largest collegiate partnership.
While students have been meeting with their sponsor children and families this week, they are also learning the inner workings of Compassion’s humanitarian efforts there. They have spent time at the Compassion Child Development Center near Kigali, where they have participated in the children’s daily lessons.
Liberty’s Planning & Construction department also became involved in the G5 initiative. Planning Coordinator Brad Butler is leading students in constructing two homes for families enrolled in the Compassion International program. He is being joined by staff member Matt Novack and two foremen from MH Masonry, a local masonry contractor.
Another team of 17 School of Nursing students spent the week partnering with the Mont Cyangugu Health Center, where they delivered a new ultrasound machine donated by the university. (The School of Nursing has had an ongoing partnership with the clinic for the last six years.) The team also worked to educate village leaders on health issues and met with government leaders while touring Rwanda.
“Each of these opportunities give students a chance to come face-to-face with what God has been doing in the lives of the Rwandan people,” Rutledge said. “We get to play a small role in what God has been doing long before we got there, and I think that’s ultimately why a Liberty student chooses to be on a trip like this.”
The teams will return on Sunday.