by Bryson Durst, Student Public Relations Writer
Graduation often brings with it much planning, as students work to finish the school year well and look toward the future. This year, three graduating nursing students from Cedarville University will spend their first 26 days after graduation serving in the West African nation of Togo alongside three rising seniors, associate professor of nursing Scott Long, Cedarville alumna, and current Mayo Clinic employee Tonilynn Fleming and local missionaries.
The graduating seniors on this year’s trip are Alli Griffith of Granger, Indiana; Josie Dicks of Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Anna Dubois of New Lennox, Illinois, while the rising seniors are Selena Gerlach of Lititz, Pennsylvania; Abigail Nienhuis of Mears, Michigan; and Emma Beachy of Rosedale, Indiana.
This team will serve in Hôpital Baptiste Biblique, a healthcare facility run by the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, from May 8 until June 3. Cedarville has a long relationship with the hospital, sending mission teams every year until faculty retirements in 2016. The trip was resumed in 2021 under the leadership of Long and Fleming.
“The Cedarville teams are always an encouragement to our missionaries and Togolese ministry partners as they serve alongside us,” said Tabitha Groeneveld, a missionary and family nurse practitioner at Hôpital Baptiste Biblique. “While our missionary team tries to pour into the lives of the students, we are always blessed by their fervor for missions, their servants' hearts, and their love for the Lord.”
Among the mission team in Togo are Cedarville alumni Jack and Taylor Kehl and Andy and Jackie Kirby, as well as Sharon Rahilly, a former faculty member of the Cedarville University School of Nursing who helped establish Hôpital Baptiste Biblique’s nursing school.
The mission team will primarily work in Hôpital Baptiste Biblique’s southern facility, where they will help cover patient assignments, support a local clinic, observe and potentially assist with surgeries and provide inpatient care. Other team members will work in the maternal and pediatric clinic to provide vaccines for babies.
According to Long, malaria is one of the most common medical issues that Cedarville students have encountered, along with trauma injuries from motorcycle accidents, as motorcycles are a common mode of transportation. Some patients come late into the hospital with such conditions as cancer and broken bones, having waited to follow advice from local witch doctors. Finally, many of their patients live meal-to-meal and come in malnourished.
“Here in the United States, we have so many resources, and we can run so many tests,” Long said. “There in Togo, it goes back to listening to the patient, showing compassion and being resourceful, not ordering tests just because we can order tests but being really precise with what we’re ordering. Every test is an expense that the patient probably can’t afford.”
In addition to caring for physical needs, members of the mission team hope to serve the spiritual needs of their patients as well. The nurses eagerly asked last year’s Cedarville team members about their faith, and they seek to share their faith in Jesus Christ with their patients. Hôpital Baptiste Biblique has chaplains who pray with patients and share Bible verses with them every day.
The hospital also engages in community health evangelism, where nurses go into local communities to teach basic health lessons such as hand hygiene or cleaning water before drinking and share biblical teachings as well. Finally, the student team will work with missionaries who teach lessons from the Bible.
“People are looking for hope, and the hospital gives people an opportunity to see hope,” Long said.
While the mission trip provides an opportunity for Cedarville students to help others, Long said that he hopes the students themselves will benefit, too.
“I would like to see the students go in with an open heart and open mind, allow God to work in their lives in a different context from the United States, and then return with that zeal that we get to see in some of those nurses that are working in Togo,” Long said.
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, including the Master of Science in Nursing program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.