BROWNWOOD – September 7, 2017 – Shaefer Church, a 2016 Howard Payne University graduate, spent the summer in Greece volunteering with refugees who have fled the Middle East and northern Africa. He was one of three students from HPU and hundreds from the state of Texas serving around the globe this summer through Texas Baptists’ Go Now Missions.
Church served alongside seven other Americans at a refugee camp on the island of Lesvos. They provided the individuals with food, clothing, stability and safety, an opportunity, he said, that strengthened his own walk with Christ.
“As Christians, we are called to serve others and, when we do this, we draw closer to Jesus,” he said. “I really got to see God’s love for the oppressed and how He is at work with refugees. I was blessed in that I got to meet some great human beings within the camp.”
As a student at HPU, Church was involved on campus, particularly with the Baptist Student Ministry.
“I helped out with a few BSM ministries over the years, but the two in which I invested the most time were Student Led Worship and Campus Outreach,” Church said. “Being a part of the BSM was very formational for me, and it really helped shape how I view missions, community and serving others.”
Keith Platte serves as HPU’s BSM director.
“Shaefer served as our BSM student worker for two years,” said Platte. “During that time, I had the joy of seeing God grow a wonderful servant and leader. There’s no doubt that Shaefer was gifted by God with the gift of leadership and that shows in everything he does. People naturally want to join along in what Shaefer is doing, and Shaefer keeps following after the heart of God, so he keeps bringing people closer to God. That’s what discipleship is about. Shaefer gets that.”
In addition to Greece, Church served at other times with Go Now Missions in the Philippines and in Oregon.
“All of these experiences impacted me in ways that I can’t even fathom,” he said. “I am who I am today because of what I saw God do while I was on those trips.”
Church said his long-term ministry goal is to serve Christ and help others overseas. He currently serves as youth director at First United Methodist Church in Brownwood.
“I get to work with some truly amazing youth and serve the Lord right here in my own community,” he said. “I love working with the students, and the fact that I get to be their youth leader is an amazing blessing.”
Church graduated Magna Cum Laude from HPU in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible.
“In every way that I can imagine, HPU prepared me for what I’m doing now,” he said. “The Christian studies department was a great place for me to learn more about God’s Word, the Church and how to do ministry. I really loved my time at HPU.”
Cutline: Shaefer Church, a 2016 HPU graduate, spent his summer working with refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. He is pictured on the HPU campus.