By: Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications for LiveBeyond
The most recent medical mission group to come with LiveBeyond to Haiti was a unique one: it was a reunion trip for many of the friends of Dr. and Mrs. Vanderpool from their college days at Abilene Christian University. It was composed primarily of ACU students from the classes of '80-82, along with their spouses, children, and a few other team members. This group had the unique ability to experience Haiti, not just as individuals, but as a community of believers that had fortified their bonds in college.
At one point, Mama Laurie (as she is referred to by thousands of Haitian children, and her loving daughter-in-law) mentioned that each person from her class had some impact on where she is today, seeking the Kingdom of God by serving the oppressed in Thomazeau, Haiti. And I could see throughout the week just how much she and Dr. Vanderpool and the rest of LiveBeyond's outreach impacted the spiritual growth of the team members as they studied scripture together each morning, sang in church, served in the clinic, helped with Johnny’s Kids and Kè Pou Timoun and evangelism, went on At Risk and Maternal Health visits, and discussed the entire experience over supper. The longevity of the friendships held by so many of the team members gave the group more intimacy, allowing the spiritual growth of each person to compound upon one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) I was able to witness each team member put on the Armor of God, ready to advance the Kingdom of Heaven, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, shield-to-shield with their classmates.
For me, an ACU class of 2011 graduate, it was a chance to peer into the future and imagine what life might be like with my closest ACU friends in 30-40 years. Will my class be serving together in a mission field? Will we be warriors searching for ways to advance the Kingdom, aligning our shields and joining the battle? Isn't that so much better than meeting for a beach weekend or a ski trip?
On the final night, the group gathered around for one last round of prayers and, of course, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” We actually couldn’t contain ourselves, and we ended up singing several of the other familiar hymns, as ACU graduates are wont to do. I’m so thankful for the heritage of faith that ACU blessed me with. I’m grateful for the community of believers and spiritual mentors that I am inherently a part of, simply because I attended a particular college. During my week at the LiveBeyond base, I once again got to witness the ACU difference. Thank you, ACU, for preparing us to LiveBeyond.
(Side note: The class of ’92 also has a reunion trip to LiveBeyond in January of each year.)