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UC Students and Parents Commissioned for 1:8 Team


Shelbyville, KY. - So many times University of the Cumberlands (UC) allows the public to dive deep into the minds of the students and faculty, but what about the parents? Even though the parents have students who are so graciously serving the Lord and being stand up citizens, it is still gut wrenching for them to watch as their children journey out into third world countries or unknown international land, to teach the gospel. On May 28, the Kentucky BCM Commissioning Service was held for 1:8 Leadership Experience Teams, at Shelbyville First Baptist Church. Speaker, Chuck McAlister,KBC Evangelism & Church Planting Team Leader, spoke to the students as they began their summer mission’s work and especially to the parents as they learn to ‘pray on then hands off’. The three Acts 1:8 students from UC, Julie Paris (Ashland, KY serving Bowling Green, KY and Greece), Sarah England (Lexington, KY serving FBC Murray, KY and Zimbabwe), and Sara Donahue (Harlan, KY serving FBC Shelbyville, KY and Russia),attended along with their families and UC’s BCM Director, Dean Whitaker.

In Dr. McAlister’s message, he told a true and touching testimony of a time in which he traveled alongside his son, Chris, to Venezuela for a summer mission’s trip. He said that he realized that his son had been called by God to travel but had not actually grasped the fact that he as the father, had to let him go and place him in God’s control. They came to a Venezuelan boy who spoke zero English. When Chris saw him, he immediately told his father that he was supposed to speak to that particular boy. Dr. McAlister continued to convince him that it would be pointless because he could not understand him. Chris insisted on giving him a Bible and reading to him a specific verse that had been placed on his heart. After much debate, Chris gave the boy a Bible and called an interpreter over to translate the verse and the message Chris told the boy about God’s love for him and his people. Pure joy came across the boy’s face as he dashed back to his hut that be called home and became to dig frantically in the dirt. He retrieved a box, much like an old cigar box, and pulled out an American garment tag that read, ‘Made in America,’ and brought it to Chris. The interpreter translated for the boy as he said, “You have given me the most precious gift you own. Now I must give you my most prized possession.” After this moment, the tag, who would normally seem meaningless to Americans, became one of Chris’ most prized possessions.

Dr. McAlister was trying to tell his son to move on because the boy couldn’t speak English but his son had been called by God. He realized, as a parent of a missionary, that his job was done; God was in full control. This was the message he was trying to relate to the other parents as they prayed for their children, and then removed their hands from him and placed them into God’s hands.

UC’s BCM Director, Dean Whitaker is a firm supporter and believer in the students of UC. His personal message to the summer mission teams was, “If God is really calling you, go and be bold! Be faithful to Him, step out, and He will line everything up for you. Whatever God calls, He will equip."

Sarah England’s parents, Donna and Danny England, both active members of Versailles Baptist Church, attended the service in the support and blessing of their daughter’s travels. “For us, it’s a routine summer for Sarah and we are so proud that she has a heart for missions,” said Danny England. “I have been worried but the words I have heard today in the service were comforting to me.”

Every student who attended the service had at least someone there to support them which was a wonderful blessing. Most of the support came from their parents. “I’m not worried…God will take good care of her,” said confident mother, Donna England. “I am thankful for a church that has grown a mission heart. Our church has put in our budget a line for college missions.”

No matter what students do in life, it is always comforting to know that their parents are behind them in whatever they do. This particular group of summer missions has been blessed with wonderful, Godly parents who are proud of their desires to preach the gospel to others. It was Chuck McAlister’s mission to ease the minds of the parents as they send their children overseas, offer them support as loving parents, and remind them that they are safe in the name of God. He blessed the students and sent them on their way leaving them with a strong message to linger on their minds to reinforce their reasoning for their missions.

Sara Donahue and her UC alum parents, James and Felicia Donahue, are in awe of the amount of support and love they have received from the church, school, and others. “I am not surprised that Sara has chosen the path to become a missionary,” said Felicia Donahue. “She has dreamed of being a missionary since she was the age of ten or twelve.”

Felicia Donahue was shocked that she was able to raise over $300.00 in hotdog sales alone in order to raise enough money to send her daughter on her trips. She knew that God must have been watching over them and that he was behind everything.

“He will protect her,” said James Donahue. “We are so proud of Sara and awestruck by the support that God has so graciously provided.”

Julie Paris, another dedicated member of UC’s Acts 1:8 team, was accompanied by her father, Dr. Floyd Paris. He is currently the pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Ashland, Kentucky and is the former president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. When asked how he felt about his daughter doing mission’s work, his response was, “It’s who we raised her to be. I am excited about this and have been throughout her entire life.”

“I am really nervous but I am excited because I know something great is in store for us, “said Acts 1:8 member, Julie Paris. “I love my dad but I am getting ready to be gone for two whole months…I know that this is what I am supposed to do.”

Chuck McAlister shared a story with the students and their parents about another mission’s trip he took where he had a rather interesting conversation with a man overseas. The man said to him, “Whatever you do, pray that we don’t get our freedom. In America, you have freedom but just add Jesus to your life. Here, we don’t have our freedom, but Jesus is our life.” This left the students remembering that what they say and do on their trips will impact these people so greatly. God is all they have and they need to know all they can about Him, His love, and His salvation.

“If God has called your child, He is going to make a way,” said Dean Whitaker as he offered comfort and reassurance to the parents. “He will provide a path for the parents so bless them, encourage them, and let them go.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit