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03-24-2014


UC's Amanda Walton is moving and climbing mountains

 


Williamsburg, KY., - University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) alumnus and staff member Amanda Walton (Knoxville, TN) knew at the tender, innocent age of six that God had big plans for her when she first fell in love with the Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie’s 1980’s charity single, “We Are the World.” That single helped raise over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the United States. Walton not only liked the tune but it helped her become more aware of the poverty, famine, disease, and need for love and God’s Word in other parts of the world; particularly Africa.

In June, Walton will be taking a journey to Tanzania and Kenya, Africa to participate in The International Sports Federation’s (ISF) Climb 20 challenge. Is Walton willing to climb the highest mountain for those who need missioned? Absolutely! As a celebration of ISF’s 20th anniversary, its 2014 summer mission challenge is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro located in Tanzania, Africa to raise funds and awareness for the ongoing support of ISF. Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet above sea level. This climb is extremely difficult and one must be in good health in order to participate in the eight day adventure. Hikers will climb through five different climatic zones to reach the summit. All climbers participating in Climb20 are committed to the long-term success of ISF.

 


“I’m really looking forward to making this journey,” said Walton. “Being with ISF has helped me significantly grow as a person and as a Christian. I want to be an advocate for people and I feel what I am doing is exactly what I have been called by God to do. The Climb20 adventure will cost $10,000 and that sounds like a crazy amount to have to come up with in such a short time but God will provide. He always has made it possible for all my mission trips because that is where I am supposed to be. If I surrender myself to the Lord, He will make a way.”

For over the past ten years, Walton has lived an interesting, selfless, and adventurous life for the Lord. She joined the International Sports Federation (ISF) in 2004 and her heart has been exploding for God and international travel missions ever since. ISF is a non-profit organization which was formed to specifically recruit, train and send teams around the globe with the primary goal of changing the world through sports. ISF’s goals are to raise awareness, mobilize volunteers and provide relief through competitive sports teams, recreational sports teams, orphan care and relief teams, and medical teams. As a former UC athlete and coach, Walton felt very much in place with this organization and wanted to utilize her knowledge and passion of sports to share God with the people who needed Him most. Her heart yearned for Africa, so that is exactly where God placed her.

Walton fell in love with Africa and its people when ISF sent her to Kenya in 2008 to work with children at an orphanage called Tumaini Miles of Smiles and work at a local school. She immediately bonded with the young children and saw hope in their eyes and love in their hearts. She lived in a resident’s guest house for nearly a whole year and learned the culture of the Kenyans and was completely engulfed by their ways of living. Walton did not have the luxury of running water, internet, or the home cooked meals she once enjoyed. She participated in the “a dollar a day challenge” with another missionary friend who was with her. During this challenge, she surrendered her shoes and went barefoot everywhere she went for a week. She gave up her food and only drank small amounts of tea and water in order to stay alive. She did not take a bath or change her clothes. For seven days, Walton got to experience firsthand the life of a poverty stricken Kenyan and empathize with them the everyday struggles and fears in which they endure.

“It was not the life I was used to living, that is for sure,” admitted Walton of the challenge. “But I quickly learned God’s faithfulness to provide. Even though it was rather difficult at times and I was really hungry, it was an amazing feeling. I learned to embrace the simplicity of life.”

Walton also left her mark in Greece when ISF sent her there to spread the gospel two times in 2004. She enjoyed her time in Europe and even though she feels her calling is with Africa, she had some unforgettable experiences there as well.

“During my first Greece trip,” said Walton, “another missionary and I were playing basketball at a local park with a few young kids. From out of nowhere came an 18 year old Greek girl who came over to where we were. We began talking to her as best as we could but it was difficult due to the language barrier. She could speak some English so we could at least communicate a little. She said her name was Maria and we asked her if she knew Jesus. That conversation led to Maria accepting Christ. She prayed her prayer in Greek, as we prayed in English and the spirit of God was heavy in that moment. It is miraculous how across the globe and across languages we can use sports to bring people to know Him.”

Walton graduated from UC in 2002 with a biology degree and even returned to her alma mater to coach the UC’s Women’s Volleyball team for a few years. She is currently working in the admissions office on campus with people she considers dear friends and family. She feels beyond blessed to be back at UC where she has the Christian love and support she needs to make these trips possible.

“Not all places of employment would allow me to pick up and go on a mission trip,” said Walton. “University of the Cumberlands is a Baptist university and they actually want me to do God’s will and serve internationally when the opportunity becomes available.”

Since being involved with ISF, Walton has come out of her shell and has become a true speaker of Christ. She spoke at UC’s FCA meeting after UC’s Baptist Campus Ministries Director Dean Whitaker approached her and invited her. Although she would have normally declined the offer, she pushed through it with God’s assistance and He helped her through it. Now, after having God by her side through numerous campus convocations and many other times of testimony, she is embracing public speaking and enjoys getting to tell others about Jesus.

“Being at UC has given me so much,” said Walton. “It is truly like my family and if I had not come to Cumberlands for school, I might not have met all the wonderful people who have helped me become the person I am today. The atmosphere, students, staff, and professors at UC helped me grow as a Christian and without that, I might not have become as interested in missions work. I love working in admissions at UC and using my testimony to promote the university. I want to give back to UC what UC has given to me.”

During Walton’s last trip to Kenya, she remembered flying past the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and being able to also see the place in which she called home for nearly a year. She imagined what it would be like to be able to get to climb that mountain and be able to look down at the people and land in which she had placed her heart and time.

Walton said, “I truly gained another home during my stay in Africa and I cannot wait to climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and look down at God’s creation and the land I have grown to love. People are called to go, invest, advocate, and empower and right now, I’m very much ready to go!”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit www.ucumberlands.edu.