Students give more than presents during Christmas break

Having a parentless child cling to her side, calling her “mama,” may have elicited some tears from senior public relations major Bailey Starnes, but it also made her third trip to Moldova well worth it.

She has spent part of her Christmas break each yearsharing Christ with orphans and putting a warm pair of boots on each of their feet.

When Starnes originally sought out missions opportunities three years ago, she intended to go to Haiti. After a lot of prayer, she instead found herself in the Eastern European country, far from where she thought she’d end up, and she has returned ever since.

“I keep going back because I can never stop thinking about the ministry I’ve been a part of there. Mostly, for three years, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the sweet orphans in Moldova,” she said.

Starnes and her team visited several orphanages a day, placing shoes on each of their feet. They would then gather everyone together, where a translator would help them tell the children about God’s love for them.

Senior Ben Baecker spends time with a young boy in Mozambique, where he served during the break. Courtesy photo.

She said that not only is the Boot Mission important for providing a physical need for the kids, but it also “shows the orphans of Moldova that someone cares about them, and, further, that there is hope found in the Lord.”

Freshman education major Kevin Orr traveled alongside Starnes for the first time this Christmas break.Before looking at the list of places to serve through GoNow Missions, he had never heard of the country, but soon started seeing things about it everywhere.

“I then began getting a passion for Moldova, and it was the only place I could see myself going,” Orr said.

At each orphanage the team visited, children gathered to hear about Christ and were asked to pray silently to receive him in their hearts.

“At the first few, I wondered if they even understood with the language barrier and doubted that many kids even became believers,” Orr said.

However, at one orphanage, the speaker forgot to say to pray silently, and he heard the sound of small voices echoing the translator as they prayed the prayer of salvation.

“It showed the power God has to bring people to Him even with the language barrier,” Orr said.

Far from the freezing temperatures of Moldova, senior nursing major Ben Baecker served during the break in Beira, Mozambique. Friends of his returned from Beira after starting the nonprofit Little
Changes International, and they urged Baecker to go.

During his time there, he did a multitude of tasks, such as working in an OB clinic, visiting orphanages, shadowing a doctor and hanging out with kids.

“I had very little plans upon going, and part of the trip was to make connections and find places to serve. So this is what I ended up fi nding,” he said.

One thing Baecker learned was the importance of going on missions, even if you don’t think you have anything to contribute.

“Just being you in every place you go allows God to do more in the hearts of others than you can ever imagine,” he said.

Baecker said it’s not what God did while he was in the country that amazes him most, but what he continues to do.

“Just having the opportunity to be a color in the painting God is creating in Mozambique was a blessing,” he said.

Though many students traveled the globe to serve others, countless others found opportunities to do just that locally, as well.

Freshman international business and Spanish double major Alex Kown helped alleviate a little holiday stress for people by wrapping gifts for free in Wylie, Texas, through a ministry at his home church.

He said that by doing something for others without asking for anything in return, the Christian volunteers were able to “look at these … people and say, ‘We do this because Christ loved us first.’”

Kown said no matter where you go, the important thing is to tell people about Christ.

“The fact of the matter is that there are lost people everywhere you go, across the street or across the globe.”

Author: JC Jones

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