Beirut missionary quartet attribute their ability to serve to a well-rounded Baylor education
As a missionary kid, Julia Wallace (BA ’16, MDiv/MSW ’20) was instilled with a deep passion for other cultures. This feeling was only strengthened when she attended Baylor to study international studies, theology, and social justice. Here, she discovered her true calling to follow in her parents’ footsteps and serve with international non-profits.
During her undergrad years (and at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis), Wallace was introduced to the Lebanese Society for Education & Societal Development (LSESD), a faith-based organization dedicated to the revival and transformation in the Middle East and North Africa. She was moved to hear how God was using this global crisis to reshape the local Lebanese church.
[Bonus connection: LSESD had been established decades earlier by another Baylor Bear — Julia Saccar Graham (BA ’38) — and her husband, who were serving abroad as Southern Baptist missionaries.]
“I was struck and inspired by the stories of how God was moving in Lebanon,” says Wallace, now the partner relations officer for LSESD. “After that introduction, I was certain LSESD was where I wanted to start my career.”
What Wallace didn’t know was that she’d be joining three other Baylor alums once she arrived in Beirut: Sarah Jennings (BA ’16), Joy El Kazzi (MSW ’21), and Brent Hamoud (BA ’06). Today, these four Bears serve Lebanon and the greater Middle East/North Africa region by providing inclusive education, equipping the church, and fostering community development. And they attribute their success in mission work to their time at Baylor.
“From the port explosion last year to the country’s economic collapse, we are grateful for how Baylor equipped each of us to serve in our respective roles of humanitarian aid and Christian witness,” says Wallace. “My Baylor education gave me an understanding of trauma which has helped me cultivate a deeper empathy for the people with whom I work and who we serve.”
For Jennings, LSESD’s senior communications and liaison officer, joining the organization aligned with her personal passions as well as her professional ones.
“My first job under Dave Kennedy with Baylor Campus Recreation taught me the basics of social media,” says Jennings. “Pairing that with my BIC [Baylor Interdisciplinary Core] coursework really allowed me to combine my skillset for the greater good.”
Kazzi and Hamoud agree that Baylor always offered a supportive atmosphere to learn and grow. “I felt encouraged to discover my passions and excel in them,” says Hamoud, now program lead of the master of religion in Middle Eastern and North African studies. “Baylor helped us become the people God created us to be by preparing us to meet the needs of the world.”
Sic ’em, Baylor missionaries!