BROWNWOOD – July 20, 2017 – Nine Howard Payne University students traveled to Slovakia at the beginning of the summer for a short-term mission immersion experience. Travelers included students in Dr. Melody Maxwell’s International Missions Practicum course as well as students involved with HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry. The group was accompanied by Dr. Maxwell and Keith Platte, BSM director.
The HPU team led ministry activities among the Roma and Slovak people and learned from Shane and Dianne McNary, field personnel with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
“It was our privilege and joy to be able to interact with such a dynamic and talented group of young scholars,” wrote the McNarys in an e-mail newsletter following the trip.
Dr. Maxwell’s class prepared for the trip the semester prior by studying short-term missions along with the history and culture of the area and the Roma people.
“The Roma are a people group in Europe who are often marginalized and frequently live in poverty,” said Dr. Maxwell. “We were blessed with the opportunity to briefly serve among the Roma alongside the McNarys.”
Among other activities, the group taught English at a public school in Važec and hosted a Bible school for Roma children in partnership with Jekh Drom, a local non-profit. They also connected with Word for the World – Slovakia, a group of people translating the Bible into a local Roma dialect, and the Slovak Bible Society who has partnered with the group in publishing and distributing the Bibles.
“This trip specifically taught me about the importance of having cross-cultural knowledge and how that shapes our presentation of the Gospel,” said Zoe Emley, junior from Natalia. “This trip was one where I felt that I gained an overwhelming amount of great information about Slovak and Roma culture and the culture of short-term missions.”
Before departing from Europe, the team traveled to Poland where they visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, Schindler Museum and the Polish Roma Association Museum.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that what we did as tourists directly related to who we had been working with while we were on mission,” said Kara Strange, May 2017 graduate from Fredericksburg. “Our tourism was not without a purpose.”
Tara Carroll, junior from McKinney, said the trip taught her that God speaks to everyone differently.
“God transcends human limitations and can transcend cultural differences as well,” she said. “The Gospel is multifaceted and can to speak to everyone in many ways. God has used the McNarys to do beautiful work in Slovakia and with the Roma people. We were able to come alongside this work with them for a short time. They will continue to do this Gospel work long after we are gone.”
In addition to Emley, Strange and Carroll, those on the trip included Daniel Harris, May 2017 graduate from Boerne; Kindell Hill, junior from Jarrell; Tom Kyle, May 2017 graduate from Salado; Anthony McCarson, May 2017 graduate from San Angelo; Erin McCleer, junior from San Angeolo; and Caitlin Vincent, junior from Brownwood.
Cutline: A group from HPU completed a short-term mission immersion experience in Slovakia at the beginning of the summer. They are pictured at the High Tatra Mountains as they traveled from Slovakia to Poland. Left to right: Caitlin Vincent, Kara Strange, Kindell Hill, Keith Platte, Erin McCleer, Tom Kyle, Zoe Emley, Anthony McCarson, Tara Carroll, Daniel Harris and Dr. Melody Maxwell.