Next week, a team of nine students and two staff members will leave on Arizona Christian University’s second mission trip to the tiny West African nation of Liberia.

Founded by freed slaves in the early 1800’s, Liberia suffered two civil wars beginning in the late 1980’s, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and a decimated economy. The nation has an estimated 350,000 orphans – roughly 9% of the population. With unemployment between 75 and 85%, and the majority of Liberians living on less than $1 per day, some measurements list Liberia as the second poorest nation in the world.

In May 2012, ACU took its first trip to Liberia, where students led a vacation Bible school for hundreds of Liberian students, hosted a youth sports day, and helped in construction at an orphanage site.

ACU senior Beth Magee, who also participated in last year’s trip, said she’s looking forward to reconnecting with her Liberian friends in a few weeks. “Last year was actually my second trip to Liberia, and each time I go, I fall more in love with the Liberian people. I’ve never met a more generous group of people in my life!”

This year’s trip will be led by ACU staff members Brant Nyhart and Karen Sumner, and is taken in conjunction with Global Resource Group, a non-profit working to assist local Liberian leaders in constructing an orphanage. ACU has also partnered with Delta Ministries International to handle trip logistics and provide pre-trip training.

Students will again host a vacation Bible school, assist in projects at the orphanage site, and will also spend time learning about Liberian culture. Brant Nyhart stressed the importance of experiencing another culture as part of the education process. “Traveling overseas was not only significant to my education, but has been integral to my spiritual formation as well. It’s my hope that seeing another culture and experiencing another nation will stretch and grow this year’s team, opening their eyes to God’s work across the globe.”

Team member Collette Cain, who has never traveled outside the United States, said God started moving in her heart last summer to prepare her for the trip. “I have a love for orphans, so when I heard that we would be helping an orphanage, I knew it was the trip for me,” said Collette. Anticipating what God will do on this trip, Collette added, “I have a feeling God has great things in store.”

To follow team updates throughout the trip, visit Global Resource Group’s blog.