Baylor student prepares for 11-month mission trip

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Neel

By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer

Cumming, Ga., senior Hannah Neel will be participating in this year’s World Race, an 11-month journey through 11 countries to share the word of Jesus and serve others. Neel, who graduates in May, is fundraising for her trip and will leave this August.

Neel will be one of 200 “racers” in the 2018 World Race.

The World Race’s website says every follower of Jesus is called to “go and make disciples,” and the World Race is just one of many vehicles to do that.

Neel said she was unsure of what she was going to do after graduation before she found this opportunity, and she is now excited to embark on the journey come August. Neel said she found this opportunity in the fall after applying to countless jobs.

“I am so excited to spend every day building His kingdom and serving others in His name,” Neel said. “I can’t wait to unconditionally love others and dedicate every day to Jesus. It wasn’t until I began to receive rejection letters that I decided to really listen to what Jesus was asking me to do. On a whim, I applied and interviewed with the World Race staff and ultimately got accepted.”

Burnsville, Minn., senior Lauren Woods, a close friend of Neel’s since freshman year, said this opportunity means much more for Neel than just a travel experience.

“It’s bigger than just her. It’s bigger than us,” Woods said. “It’s encouraging to see a young person willing to go overseas and invest for God’s kingdom. The World Race isn’t [just] about going overseas and changing the lives of other people though; it’s about humbling yourself with a servant heart.”

Neel said that the Baylor community and her peers have encouraged her to follow through with her goal.

“Baylor has also brought some really incredible people into my life that has helped inspire me to grow in my faith in such a real way,” Neel said. “As an international business secondary major, it has been really cool to have professors teach on this subject from a Christian perspective.”

Neel said her plans may seem ambitious, but Baylor has encouraged her with its Baylor Lights Initiative.

“In Matthew 5:14-16, each of us is called to be light in the world. Our distinctive mission as a nationally ranked research institution that is unapologetically Christian places us at a very unique crossroads where faith and learning, scholarship and teaching, knowledge and service combine to create an academic experience unlike any other,” Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone said on the Lights Shine Bright campaign website.

Neel said she hopes to bring light into the world through her discipleship during the World Race.

“I have been able to see recently how Jesus is able to take dark situations and circumstances, then use that darkness to make his light shine even brighter,” Neel said. “There’s a lot of darkness in the world right now, but Jesus has already begun to show me how He is able to be a light in dark situations. So when Baylor launched its Baylor Lights initiative, it was perfect timing. I can’t wait to carry the light into the world.”