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A Discipleship Council member traveling on a school bus with Immanuel Mission kids

Breaking Down Barriers With Navajo Community

by Anna Grace Galkin, Student Public Relations Writer

Discipleship Council members lead worship with students at Immanuel MissionLeading into this fall break, October 9-15, at Cedarville University, instead of taking a few days to rest and relax, a group of students is flying to Arizona to serve at a Navajo reservation.

Members of Cedarville's Discipleship Council will partner with Immanuel Mission near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, where many students from Cedarville have served annually for over 20 years.

Since becoming director of discipleship ministries in 2014, Aaron Cook has cultivated Cedarville’s support of Immanuel Mission by bringing his Discipleship Council members each fall for a week of service and spiritual encouragement.

Director of Discipleship Aaron Cook with members of the Discipleship Council on a past trip to Immanuel MissionWhile in Arizona, Cook and the Discipleship Council will lead vacation Bible school programs, provide worship and teaching at regular chapels, perform skits, tutor and clean. Often, the team will also travel to local Navajo homes to help with repairs, construction, and other service projects.

The Discipleship Council at Cedarville University is a selected group of upperclassmen who assist the discipleship director in organizing the discipleship groups that meet weekly across campus. In addition to administration work, they study the Bible and serve together in ministry opportunities.

According to Cook, many of the Navajo can be suspicious or antagonistic toward strangers, but the work of the mission has created bridges for friendship and faith.

“One Navajo man told me that the word for white man, ‘bilagaana,’ usually has an antagonistic connotation,” Cook said, “but for him, though he still uses the word, because of his faith in Jesus and the work of the mission, it doesn’t have the same negative meanings.”

Cook said that his goal with the trip is to help Discipleship Council members “learn from people who are faithful for decades in what could often be a discouraging and lonely location.”

2018 Cedarville graduate Brenna Johnson, a Discipleship Council member during the 2017-18 school year, experienced much personal growth on her trip to Immanuel Mission.

“One of the biggest things the Lord taught me was the beauty and privilege of serving and how rewarding it really is,” Johnson shared. “You get filled up even while interacting with your team and giving energy to those you are serving.”

Each evening during the trip, Cook gathers the Discipleship Council members to debrief about what they have learned from the day. Ultimately, his prayer is that the life-on-life service the students experience in Arizona will percolate through Discipleship Ministries at Cedarville.

“It’s an honor to be invited to Immanuel Mission, and God is bearing fruit,” he said. “My desire is that the students would exhibit the same long-term faithfulness as the missionaries there.”

Located in the northeast corner of Arizona on a Navajo Indian Reserve, Immanuel Mission provides a hub for missionaries to share the gospel through the faithful teaching of the Bible and academics in church and school settings.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,715 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit

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