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Is Evangel University Breaking the Mold?

Evangel University Sign

Eight students from Springfield’s largest Christian University are getting ready to spend two weeks in Europe, where they will visit a United Nations regional office. But many Evangelical Christians hold long-standing “anti-United Nations” sentiments. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes reports on how Evangel University appears to be breaking the mold.

For years, the United Nations has left a bad taste in the mouths of Evangelical Christians because of its criticism of the war in Iraq. So why is Evangel University, with its close ties to the evangelical world, shipping students off to a UN regional office?

“We’re not looking at it as whether or not it’s good for Evangelicals or bad. It’s a part of our world and we want to understand it,” said Dr. Robert Bartels.

As an associate professor at Evangel and coordinator of the trip, Bartels says the university has many students with international backgrounds. He hopes this trip will open their eyes to job opportunities all over the world.

“Some of the folks there in Vienna that we’re going to be connecting with work at the UN and that gave us that opportunity to be able to have a tour, to be able to visit the facilities to actually meet one of the ambassadors that works there. And that gives a great opportunity for our students to see what the international world looks like for job opportunities,” says Bartels.

The student leader of the trip is originally from Austria and that sparked the initial thought of traveling to his home and learning more about Austrian culture. Bartels said it wasn’t until later that they decided that a visit to the UN would be a great experience.

Although Bartels said missionary work won’t be the focus of this trip, he says all of Evangel’s trips are considered to be “service oriented.” The group will visit an international church’s youth group for mentoring while in Vienna. They will also visit OPEC, which is an oil producing cartel.

Prague, in the Czech Republic, is the last stop on their two week trip. While there, they will visit Radio Free Europe, which is known for introducing pro-democracy ideas to former communist countries. He said they hope to do service work with some gypsy communities in Prague as well.

For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.