news-category: Christian Life and Service

Gardner-Webb Team Helps Build Houses in Kenya While Sharing the Hope of the Gospel

GWU team members pose with the people in Kenya.
The woman in the center accepted Jesus as her savior and received her first Bible.

Students Impacted by Experiencing a Different Culture and Forming Relationships with the People

By Ashley Rich, ’26, Intern for University Communications

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—This summer, a mission team from Gardner-Webb University traveled to Kisumu, Kenya, in partnership with Houses of Hope, a ministry of Baptist on Mission. Their goal was to build and dedicate four homes for families in need. Coming out of the trip, the members of the team talked about much more than construction. They were impacted by the opportunity to carry out a valuable act of service, share their experiences and faith, and get a taste of a culture and location vastly different than that of the United States.  

Team members raised money from family and friends to fund their trip and also received donations for the building supplies. They shared that traveling abroad allowed them to grow as individuals and to form connections with those they never would have encountered had they not felt compelled to go out into the broader world. Emily Harper summed up the experience, “The people and culture of Kenya are so beautiful and vibrant, there’s nothing like it. If you ever get the chance, I highly encourage you to go! It’s truly a humbling experience that will change your life forever.”  

While in the area, the team members also had the opportunity to go door-to-door in order to share their faith, as well as visit several schools and an orphanage to provide interaction and food.  

“Our goal was to build four houses for four families in need and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Not only did this bring the community together, but it also exposed them to the Gospel through the house dedication services,” Harper said.

Emily Moiser and Sydney Burroughs

The team’s efforts were assisted by local pastors, who were both able to supplement the interpersonal and religious efforts by the GWU team, but also to invite them to attend local worship services. Ingratiating themselves in the local community allowed the mission team to more effectively form relationships with community members.  

“I think the most meaningful part of the trip for me was how we were able to build relationships with the locals and show them the simple gospel and love of Christ through our work and actions,” Harper related. “The children especially stole my heart. It was a privilege to spend time playing with them, getting to know them, and showing them the love of Christ.”  

The progress the mission team achieved on each home’s construction led to more meaningful interactions with the people. “Even though each day was different in what we did, the Gospel message remained the same,” remarked trip leader, Associate Minister to the University for Pastoral Care Stacy Simmons. “It was amazing to see people accept Christ for the very first time.”

For one particular Kisumu resident, the testimonies and service of the mission team were especially impactful. “There was an 80-year-old woman (whom we were building a house for) who accepted Jesus into her heart and received her first Bible,” Simmons recalled. Along with this elderly resident, 34 people were led to Christ by the team.

Getting to know the people of Kisumu and seeing their limited resources gave the student participants an appreciation for basic necessities. “Something that really stood out to me was how often we take simple things for granted in the U.S.,” remarked Charity Rosenhaueer. “We can walk to our fridge to get drinking water. The people who live in the villages must either find somewhere that sells bottled water (which many of the people in the villages did not have easy access to) or get water from a nearby water source, but it is not clean water.”  

Associate Minister to the University for Pastoral Care Stacy Simmons

Team members:

  • Associate Minister to the University for Pastoral Care Stacy Simmons
  • Elizabeth “Eliza” Bradley
  • Sydney Burroughs
  • Natalie Coffing
  • Tichina Hankins
  • Emily Harper
  • Emma Hegler
  • Emily Mosier
  • Charity Rosenhauer
  • Sarah Walker

Writer Ashley Rich is a Gardner-Webb English major from Etowah, N.C.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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