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UC students celebrate the New Year by sharing Christ’s love in Mexico


UC Missions team with children of Casa Hogar Emmanuel.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky.-While most college students spent Christmas Break relaxing with family, seven University of the Cumberlands students chose to spend the first week of the new year with strangers in a foreign country on a mission to further the Gospel of Christ.

Along with Dean Whitaker, campus minister, the students met up with 11 college students from Versailles Baptist Church and traveled to Casa Hogar Emmanuel, an orphanage in Naco, Sonora, Mexico, a small, poverty stricken town on the border of Arizona and Mexico. The group was accompanied by Michael Cabell, the Versailles church’s minister of evangelism and discipleship, and his wife Kristy, both 2001 Cumberlands graduates.


Allie England with child at Casa Hogar Emmanuel.

The orphanage, fully supported by Southern Baptist churches, was established to provide a safe haven for abused, abandoned and orphaned children. It is home to around 28 children between the ages of two and seventeen from across the state of Sonora.

“Here they find refuge and shelter, love and respect, education and spiritual guidance and an opportunity to appreciate who they are, and all they are worth,” Cabell said, “Casa Hogar Emmanuel is a home with peace and promise for the children of Mexico.”

Each morning the team worked at the orphanage, at CRREDA, a local drug rehabilitation center, at Naco Baptist Church in Arizona or they distributed food in poor communities.

“Projects included painting, doing laundry, cleaning up storage rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms – anything that needed to be done, we tried our best to make it better,” Taylor said.

In the afternoons, the students led a kid’s club at the orphanage, and each evening they participated in a different activity including leading worship at CRREDA and Naco Baptist Church and spending time ministering to and playing with the children at the orphanage.

This was the second mission trip to Casa Hogar Emmanuel for Allie England, UC junior and member of Versailles Baptist Church.

“Serving these children who had come from the most unimaginable situation was the biggest blessing I received this time in Naco,” she said.

While serving at the orphanage, the mission team experienced the unexpected arrival of four new orphan siblings who were victims of abuse. The students quickly jumped to help the children bathe, fix their hair, put them in clean clothes and fix their bedding.

UC students often have mission trip opportunities through Baptist Campus Ministries, Mountain Outreach and Appalachian Ministries, but the Mexico trip allowed the students to fellowship and serve with other college-age students.

Cabell explained that the students joined together as ambassadors of Christ to the people of Mexico. The students were able to learn how blessed they really are as they viewed with their own eyes the empty cabinets of the Mexican people.

“The people there have so many needs, yet are so grateful for what they have. So many people we served in the food distribution ministry and at the drug rehab center give God all the glory for the few needs that are met in their lives,” England said.

One of the greatest impacts left on the students was the gratitude of the suffering people in Mexico. They were reminded to find joy in the small things and be thankful for what God has provided for them.

“I can get caught up in the problems in my own life, yet when I saw those children, I realized that my problems were nothing compared to their problems, to those situations that they had been through,” Taylor summed it up, “I will never forget them; they will always be a constant reminder in my mind.”

By the week’s end, the students had successfully distributed over 150 bags of food to needy families, repaired basketball backboards, cleaned and painted rooms and played with the children for hours on end. While the material accomplishments of the week are impressive, the students are the first to say that the spiritual blessings are far more abundant.

“By the end of the week it wasn’t just a fun week anymore; it was a life changing week and an experience I will never forget,” said freshman Kirby Sowder.

Although the mission team has left Mexico, and the students have returned to UC, the impact will last a lifetime not only on each child, elderly man and hungry family reached in Mexico but also on those who answered the call to serve.