Friday, January 31, 2014

Incredible Careers: 50th Annual Missions Emphasis Week

LETU is currently wrapping up its 50th annual Missions Emphasis Week, and has been honored to have dozens of missionaries on campus, seeking to recruit students for their respective organizations.

Missionaries tell some of their most memorable stories.
It’s easy to have the conventional view that being a missionary is mutually exclusive with having a technical career.  After hearing from the missionaries on campus this week, it’s clear there’s a broader range of opportunities in missions for the LETU student’s career of choice than many may have realized.

Tim Mason, LETU Computer Science Engineering Graduate, ’02, is a prime example. He now works as a computer development engineer with mission organization HCJB Global. He’s been with the organization since he graduated, and said it’s been a fulfilling career in more ways than one: “Through my involvement with mission work, the Lord has given me some fairly large and intense projects, which has been an incredible growing experience technically and also personally.”

Scott McConnell, also of HCJB global, spoke about career opportunities they offer: “We sponsor a spring break trip – students go to our technology center in Indiana. We have internships for people who want to come two or three months to work with us. We have great civil engineering opportunities in Ecuador, electrical and mechanical engineering and digital media opportunities also in Indiana. For someone who wants to become a missionary engineer in the field, we have an apprenticeship program that helps transition them from college graduate to missionary.”

Just a few of the 3,000 unreached people groups
In fact, many of the organizations operate with a more hands-on, practical focus. For instance, Friends in Action International’s work consists mainly of building airstrips, radio stations, housing, riverboats, and roads, so they have a need for engineers.

Caryl Mallory, Director of IT Engagement with JAARS, said they have over 200 positions in their IT department. It’s an exciting time – the mission field is expanding to include careers that are highly relevant to LETU students.

Whether in full-time missions or not, Tye Parks of Pioneer Bible Translators pointed why it’s vital for all believers to be involved somehow.

“Jesus said it was important. Jesus said go and make disciples – that’s our mandate," Parks said. “Whether we go to the workforce and make disciples or we go across the world and make disciples.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Incredible Alumni: Dr. Shannon Toews Potter

From Kansas to the Congo, this is the story of one LeTourneau alumna who’s making a difference. Shannon Toews Potter was recently featured in the St. Louis Business Journal for her work in Africa.

Potter, a Kansas native, graduated from LETU in 2006 with a B.S. in biology. While a student, she traveled to Kenya with LEGS (now Limbs International) and was introduced by a professor to a rural obstetrics clinic in Ethiopia.

Dr. Shannon Potter, LETU alumna.
Photo used with permission and courtesy of the
 St. Louis Business Journal.
On that trip, Potter learned how common it was for women to suffer from urogynecological issues, which, if left untreated, severely disturbed their lives. Although correctable, many women were unable to access medical care, causing them to be shunned or even commit suicide.

“I saw the plight of these women and thought, this is something I really want to do…They go from being ostracized and unable to function in a society, to being a normal woman – able to get married and maybe have children again. For me, working with them is a way of communicating to them that they are valuable in the sight of God.”

While currently wrapping up her residency at St. Louis University School of Medicine, Potter has already accepted a post-residency program in the Congo with World Medical Mission, a branch of Samaritan’s Purse. It’s a purpose she’s worked toward since her days at LeTourneau.

Potter said, it was on that first trip to Africa, she thought: “I could do this for the rest of my life. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since. The last eight years I’ve been in medical school and residency just trying to move toward that goal.”

After her residency is finished in June, Potter and her husband, Ryan, a biomedical engineer, along with their infant daughter, Sydney, will move to the Congo for a two-year commitment to work in a hospital with World Medical Mission.

“It changes their life for the better. When you can help with that, it’s just a beautiful thing.”

Are you an alumnus? Share what's going on in your life with LETU by emailing

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Incredible Journeys: Christmas Break Missions

LeTourneau students have impressive work ethic – they recently closed a challenging semester, then many packed their bags and traveled to far-off locales to fulfill their part of the Great Commission.

Sophomore biology major Emily Tutt traveled to Ecuador and described her trip as “very beautiful and very fast,” having spent three days in three cities with her church, International Full Gospel Fellowship (IFGF).

Although quick, the time was well spent. Emily was part of a group conducting training sessions for leaders of Ecuador’s IFGF church.

Emily Tutt in Quito, Ecuador
“We each had a topic to present concerning an aspect of the identity of an IFGF church and – really – of any of God’s churches,” she said. “I spoke on the importance of the Great Commission and how to act it out in practical ways, largely following the discipleship model presented by Timothy and Paul.”

Emily said others spoke on compassion, being a cutting-edge church, and being more than conquerors in Christ – all for the purpose of creating a healthier, more encouraged international body of Christ.

Sophomore Sam Hodges, a civil engineering major, decided to go with his church on a mission trip to Mexico, even though it meant he wasn’t able to go home to his family in New York.

“Our pastor challenged us to pray and ask God why you can’t go. So I did, and from there decided to go. I didn’t even have a passport. It was really time-sensitive but God worked it out.”

Sam worked to hold VBS for local kids in Piedras Negras, where kids who only had a vague idea of Jesus learned about the gospel through a translator. Despite the language barrier, he got to know the kids by simply spending time with them and playing quite a bit of soccer as a way to connect.

“Even just loving on them – that shows a lot. Our actions speak louder than words, and in that way we can be Christ to them."

He also shared the gospel with local people in their homes. He witnessed a family place their faith in Christ and was able to connect them with a local church to ensure their spiritual growth.

Allie Erkelens in Sentani, Indonesia
Junior Allie Erkelens traveled to Indonesia through LETU’s School of Aviation. The trip has been a long time coming for Allie, who has been interested in aviation and missions since she was young. Since coming to LeTourneau, she’s combined her two loves – and they took her to the other side of the world.

A mission aviation major, Allie worked with JAARS at their aviation base in Sentani, Indonesia - her first experience working in a hangar outside of class.

“I helped take the wings and tail off a heliocourier, and then I got to work on a pt6 turbine engine. It was a lot of fun and amazing to have that work experience in a real, live hangar, working on real, live aircraft.”

Many don’t realize the detailed processes these missions require, but Allie was in the thick of it, working on aircraft that would provide transportation that provides missionaries transportation to the homes of unreached people groups. 

Aiding missionaries, sharing the gospel with children, and helping to grow the church - these are several of the reasons why we think LeTourneau students are incredible.