On Sunday, May 13, nine students departed for Liberia on Arizona Christian University’s second missions trip of the year. In the spring, ACU’s Director of Campus Ministries Jimmy Farley led a team to conduct homeless ministry in Las Vegas, Nevada, and later this summer ACU Vice President of Athletics and Operations Don Mitchell will take a team to the Dominican Republic.

Liberia is a small West African nation with a tumultuous history. Founded by freed slaves in the early 1800’s, Liberia recently underwent two civil wars that resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and a completely decimated economy. The nation has an estimated 350,000 orphans – roughly 9% of the population – as a result of the wars and extreme poverty. Some measurements list Liberia as the second poorest nation in the world. While former Liberian President Charles Taylor was recently convicted for his role in the “blood diamond” conflicts that engulfed parts of West Africa in the nineties, many see hopeful signs in Liberia, including the reelection Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, increased international investment and a national infrastructure that is slowly taking shape.

The team, led by ACU staff members Brant Nyhart and David Rickey and ACU Trustee Jim Baugh, has a full schedule including conducting a vacation Bible school at a Christian school, engaging in construction at an orphanage, hosting a youth sports day, and participating in pastor training. The trip will be conducted in conjunction with Global Resource Group, a non-profit constructing an orphanage in Liberia, and Global Training Network, a ministry dedicated to providing pastor and leadership training in the “majority world.” ACU has also partnered with Delta Ministries International to handle trip logistics and provide pre-trip training.

Team member Jason Feeser said he hopes the team will be a blessing to the local people and lessen their burden if only for a few days. This is Jason’s first international missions trip and he said, “I’m really looking forward to being stretched in new ways and witnessing firsthand God work through the team to meet local needs in a practical way.”  Team leader Brant Nyhart, who’s made three previous trips to Liberia, said he has no doubt the students will come away from the trip transformed. “I’m excited to see our students walk away from this trip with new insights about themselves, the world and God. So many times we go on these trips hoping to make a difference in the lives of others, but in the end we’re the ones who are truly changed,” he explained. “I’m also convinced this will begin a lifelong relationship with the Liberian people for some of our students – you can’t visit a place like Liberia and not have it on your mind every single day,” said Brant. “They will fall in love with the people of Liberia and feel compelled to do whatever they can to promote opportunity in that nation.”

The team hopes to provide periodic updates on Global Resource Group’s blog athttp://globalresourcegroup.wordpress.com.