HPU’s Dr. Craig Younce returns to Zambia with students

After a mission trip to Zambia in fall 2018, Howard Payne University’s Dr. Craig Younce, assistant professor of biology, returned this spring with a group of students to serve at New Day Orphanage (NDO).

“My expectation for the students was that they would see that the ways they are talented and the abilities God has given them can be used to bring glory and honor to Him,” said Dr. Younce. “In our culture, talent is often used for personal gain, but this opportunity showed them that you can use your talents to help others.”

Those who made the trip were Paulo Flores, junior chemistry major from Chandler; Hannah Justice, senior biomedical sciences major from Brownwood; Angelica Ramirez, senior biology major from Austin; and Brittany Rideau, junior biology major from Beaumont. Sydney Spencer, administrative assistant for the School of Science and Mathematics, also made the journey.

“This isn’t just a trip for one type of student – it is a trip for students of nearly every discipline,” said Spencer, who graduated from HPU through the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy program in 2017. “God is so clearly at work in the lives of the children and workers at the orphanage and it is wonderful to see a population with so little rely on their faith to carry them through. I think we can all take something away from their reverence and trust for our Creator.”

New Day Orphanage takes in children of all ages, provides them with an education and raises them to adulthood. The HPU group served the orphanage by assisting in the refinement of its science curriculum and helping with science demonstrations.

“We worked with the classes almost every morning and performed science, technology, engineering and math demonstrations,” said Dr. Younce. “In the afternoons, we sat with the teachers and explained to them what we did and answered any questions they had.”

Students from HPU were also able to take part in National Youth Day, a holiday recognizing the significance of youth in Zambia. The students from the orphanage had a day off school, which enabled the HPU group to interact with them through games and activities.

“I had the opportunity to be partners with David, a young boy who lives at New Day with his parents,” said Paulo Flores. “We bonded very well and became good friends.”

While in Zambia, the group also had the opportunity to go on a safari.

“The safari was very educational and the overall trip really opened my eyes and challenged me in my spiritual walk,” said Brittany Rideau.

The idea for the trip took shape after Dr. Younce traveled to Zambia with Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in 2018 and felt a call to return and assist the orphanage, where the church group stayed for a night.

“I could hear God telling me that we needed to do something with them,” said Dr. Younce.

Dr. Younce and Dr. Pam Bryant, dean of HPU’s School of Science and Mathematics, coordinated with NDO on a plan to bring chemistry and biology majors from HPU to Zambia. Dr. Younce was impressed by God’s timing.

“This year, the university is really emphasizing the life of the mind and the life of the Spirit,” said Dr. Younce. “It’s fascinating that, when all of this was coming to fruition, I wasn’t even aware that was going to be a focus.”

Younce hopes that the trip helped show his students how to bridge the gap between the life of the mind and the life of the Spirit by allowing them to incorporate both their education and God’s vision while serving. He plans to continue making the trip with students in years to come.

“We are currently working on plans to return to Zambia,” he said. “We’ve talked with the orphanage and they said, ‘Yes, come back.’”

Dr. Younce stated he was impressed with his students, who not only demonstrated that they were grasping lessons at HPU but showed tremendous spiritual maturity.

“We are all created for a purpose and that is to carry out God’s mission,” said Dr. Younce. “If nothing else, one of the biggest things that Christ calls us to do is to serve. We all have different skills with which to do that. These students are getting an education and now they can apply it in a way of service.”

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Photo cutline one: Senior Hannah Justice and junior Brittany Rideau teach a class at New Day Orphanage in Zambia.
Photo cutline two: Dr. Craig Younce and senior Angelica Ramirez speak to students at New Day Orphanage in Zambia.
Photo cutline three: The group from HPU’s School of Science and Mathematics stands in front of Victoria Falls in Zambia.