Brad Rix went from zero children of his own to helping “raise” more than 1,000 who belong to other people – and he wouldn’t change a thing.
Brad, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, began that journey 10 years ago when he lived in Austin and one of his church friends went on a trip to an orphanage in Peru. She told Brad he had to go the following year.
“I really didn’t hesitate and said, ‘OK’,” Brad recalled.
The first year Brad went, a team of 35 volunteers brought a spiritual message to about 350 children. Since then, the orphanage has morphed into more of a daycare center and school, although about 200 children live on site.
Now, Brad visits twice a year, once in March with his friend from Austin to work out logistics, and in July to work with the more than 1,000 children who show up. Whether they are working with 100 kids or 1,000, the mission is the same, Brad said.
“We still have the opportunity to go and teach these children about the Lord,” he said, “build relationships with them, and extend our concept of family to include them.”
Among the volunteers each summer are fellow members of Southern Hills Church of Christ. A new twist was added in July 2017 when Rix took three of his former chemistry students, who are still at ACU, on the trip.
All three are pre-med majors who had been on medical missions before, Brad said, but not a trip like the one to Peru. The purpose of the Peru trip is to conduct Vacation Bible School and to build relationships with the children.
“That’s our key component,” Brad said.
That wasn’t lost on Sussan Talamas, one of the students going on the July trip. A native of Mexico, Talamas has been on a medical mission to Guatemala as an ACU student, but that wasn’t the same as the mission trip she took to Peru.
Besides the new experience working with children in a religious setting, Sussan also got to experience the Mayan and Incan cultures. In the process, she learned more about herself and about the world.
“It was a very eye-opening experience,” Sussan said.
Next spring, Sussan will once again go on the medical mission to Guatemala. And, if she can raise the funds, she will teach Vacation Bible School and build relationships with children in Peru.
“It was one of my best experiences ever,” Sussan said.