Jim Beck, Director of World Missions Training and Assistant Professor of Missions at Lubbock Christian University, believes a divine global movement has taken place in terms of mission work and LCU is in the midst of this great shift. A new generation of thinkers armed with compassionate hearts, have slowly shifted the mission field from an individualistic concept focused on church planting, to a more holistic model. To appease today’s mission minded youth and further reach the hurting, LCU’s mission department has designed an internship program available to students of all majors.
Beck has been front and center on this project since day one. He first envisioned such a program in 1983 when he and Phyllis Beck took a trip to Africa with their missionary friends, Tim and Rebecca Talley. The Beck’s fell in love with the African people and in 1985 they made their home in Malindi, Kenya. After ten years of learning the native language, planting somewhere between 60-100 churches, and being engulfed in the African culture, the Becks returned to the states. Upon returning, Beck began teaching missions at LCU and says he has observed the church and mission field change during the 20 years since his return to America.
“We grew up with the mindset that mission work is about planting churches. Now, the church is beginning to look externally and ask, who are we really? We are realizing that the kingdom of God is bigger. God is doing something globally, not just in Lubbock.”
Three years ago as Beck’s concept of mission work began to shift, he felt a desire to return to Africa to form real partnerships with the Africans—partnerships without dependency. His love for LCU and her students created a dilemma between serving those in Africa and teaching those at LCU. Beck began imagining an intensive internship program set in Kenya for students at LCU. The program would allow Beck to live in Lubbock for six months every year teaching missions’ classes at LCU, and live in Kenya the other six months, supervising LCU interns and pouring his heart into the Kenyans.
Diving deep into the heart of the new mission concept, LCU’s Kenya Internship program allows for students of all majors to apply their areas of expertise in practical ways. LCU students work with single-mothers, widows, and orphans and in agriculture, schools, and medical clinics. Beck encourages his students to think critically about how they can help the Africans, and he asks that they stop to listen to what the Africans say they need rather than arriving with a preconceived plan to fix third-world problems.
Each area in which the LCU students work is designed to be self-sufficient and independent of American assistance. Beck and his students work in a region that currently has over 450 orphans plugged into their family village. This is countercultural to the individualistic American solution of placing orphaned children into one big orphanage, where more are sure to be dumped. Beck and his team work to plug the orphans back into their holistic village family. Beck’s team then educates the orphans so that, ultimately, the orphan uses that education to benefit the whole village.
Proof of how much of a difference the LCU in Kenya internship is making is revealed in the words of one of Beck’s Kenyan friends, “For over 100 years Kenya has heard the good news of Jesus, but it isn’t until now that we are beginning to see Jesus lived out.”
Beck explains, “The evidence of Jesus in Kenya reveals itself through feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and providing the opportunity of an education. I hope the LCU interns develop a broader world view and greater capacity to build relationships. I want to teach them that they can make the world a better place and that we are all missionaries wherever we are.”
Faculty members in LCU’s mission program have a combination of 100 years of experience in east African missions, making LCU’s program the best in the country for those wanting to serve in that region. In addition, LCU currently has connections serving in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, and Kenya.
This summer nine students are interning in LCU’s Kenya internship program, six in Malindi and three in Kitale. Logan Adams, senior biology major, is working in a district hospital lab and with KEMRI, one of the top research facilities in the world. Jackson Setliff, sophomore exercise sports science major, is shadowing nurses in the trauma unit and making field visits into village areas. Senior bible majors, Hannah Sutton and Taylor Castleberry, are empowering older orphans and single mothers through ministry, literacy, and agriculture. Somare Peyton, a junior behavioral science major, and Katelyn Creech, a sophomore at Texas Tech, are teaching orphans in the Mahenzo school. In Kitale, secondary education graduate Jessica Steensma, and Bible majors Vivian Smith and Rachel Baisden are working in schools and with widows under the supervision of LCU missions faculty Shawn Tyler.