Beyond VU – Fall 2015 Survey

Beyond VU SurveyEach month since early 2011, we have sent the Beyond VU enewsletter to ministers, primarily those of the SoCal Assemblies of God Network.

Our goal has been to have Vanguard University Faculty and Staff send something from their area of study that would be of benefit to a minister. We want to continue to save you research time and get you better acquainted with us at Vanguard University.  We hope you have appreciated what we can offer to your fellowship.

How are we doing? Please take our survey to let us know!

::SURVEY link::


Dave Gable
Director of Vanguard University Church Relations


General Council 2015


We are excited to participate in the 56th General Council for the Assemblies of God.
If you plan to be there, please visit us!


Our Vanguard University BOOTH is located in the Exhibit Hall. Some features:

  • Meet Entourage and Delivery Boys, and ask them questions about what it’s like to be a VU student.
  • President Beals and Dean Jonathan Allbaugh will be at the booth Tuesday-Friday from 2-3pm.
  • If you complete an Inquiry card, we’ll give you a free VU backpack.
  • Sign-up for Music and Theater auditions with our Faculty, Tuesday-Friday from 1-3pm.
  • Play Ping Pong in our booth for a chance to win great prizes!


We also invite everyone to attend our Vanguard University reception, hosted by our Office of Alumni Relations. The reception will be Wednesday, August 5 at 9pm in the Rosen Centre Hotel (Salon 6). A mashed potato buffet and dessert will be served.

Anita (Foster) Hann
VU Church Relations Coordinator

Heather (Rachels) Clements
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations






2010143 Vanguard-458

Mission Trips: Hurt or Help?

Greg Austring, Vanguard University

Greg Austring, former missionary and current Vanguard University professor of Intercultural Studies, Religion, and Ethics, addresses possible down-sides of mission trip ministry.


What are the issues of the people to whom students will minister?

In teaching about short-term missions at Vanguard University, I emphasize the importance of mission teams knowing the context and issues of the people they target. A mis-step here will hurt rather than help!

Knowing the context includes learning the spiritual climate, the culture, and the needs of the people to the greatest degree possible in order that our ministry is effective and relevant. If we are not careful, a project with fine intentions can create more problems than it solves!

Jesus knew His context. He was able to deal with the Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus, the suspicious Samaritan woman at the well, and the charged/convicted/soon-to-be-executed adulteress in the temple courtyard. Jesus knew the environment in which each was struggling and how best He could minister to them. In other words, He knew the context.

One of the kinds of short-term missions on the rise is that of ministry in orphanages. This seems to fulfill the biblical mandate in James 1:27 “to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (NIV). It looks so obvious: what better way is there to show the compassion of Christ than visiting orphans and blessing them by one to three weeks of just “loving on them!” People who have done so tell of life-changing encounters. The tales told of tears shed by both team members and orphans on the last day of the mission trip indicate that the loving efforts have created a bond in spite of the cultural and geographical differences.

In examining the principle of knowing the context, though, I ask my students what they think are the greatest issues with which orphans deal. Eventually, we get around to the question of abandonment and the real possibility that this may be a central issue of the orphan. I then ask my students that as the team prepares to leave after having given their love and attention to the orphans, “Is the issue of abandonment relieved or relived in those young lives?”

This raises another question. Should we not visit orphans and show love to them? Not necessarily. Although the work done through orphanages is needed and can be very good, it can never replace that which all children need and crave—love and acceptance in a family setting. Visits by loving foreigners can give an intense, but temporary, reminder of that which the orphan needs most for the long term, but not meet that need well. So what does the context require for their overall benefit?

Here are some suggestions for a short-term mission team:

  • Partner with a missionary and a local national church to see if there is some way that the church members can be more involved in the lives of the orphans.
  • Look for ways that the mission team can take over some of the work of the staff of the orphanage so that the staff can spend more time and give more attention to the children.
  • Find ways to share the message of hope in Jesus and the work of the Spirit in their lives. He will still be their savior and guide long after the team has left.
  • Invest in ministries that find homes for orphans so that they can realize that familial yearning in their lives.

The context of the orphans includes more than just the joy that they receive in a visit from loving American Christians. Ministry to them means finding ways to respond to their deepest spiritual, physical, and emotional needs that will edify them not just for a week or two but for the rest of their lives.

Another possible project that has a down-side is building construction. Our teams are short on time and personnel, so we automatically build the kind of building we already know how to do, and build best, and turn it over. The possible problem? It looks “American,” and shouts to all who pass by that something “foreign” rather than local goes on there, and leaves the locals with the extra burden of explaining the building, as well as explaining the Gospel!

The solution here is similar: consult with the local churches and missionaries.

May the purity of our intentions be matched by the wisdom of our research!

This is a topic that we must think about carefully. We are very concerned that no zeal for reaching “the regions beyond” be dampened! For any encouragement and help, please get in touch:

City Serve books

Changes in Student Mission Trips

Kayli Hillebrand, Vanguard University

In the next two issues, Vanguard University leaders direct our attention to the changes in student mission trips. This month, Kayli Hillebrand, Vanguard’s Associate Director of Outreach, tells us about changes in motivation and preparation. In April, Greg Austring will list new concerns about what the students do once on the field. Both of these will be longer than usual but will help serve as a checklist for your own church’s trips.


When I was a student at Vanguard University just ten years ago, it was more about the experience of simply going and engaging.  Today, we have students coming through the doors of the Vanguard University Outreach office wanting to serve in ways that are connected to their majors – from Biology to Religion and everything in between.  Students want practical, hands on experience that makes their classroom education come to life, and will contribute to their long-term professional goals.  And in the same way, future employers want to see that this generation has cross cultural experience in their particular field.  Mobilization through local and global outreach has changed for this campus and it will continue to grow and evolve.


The face of missions is changing.  This generation is highly engaged in a new era of global missions and local outreach.  Diving deep into grassroots organizations, and buying products from companies committed to impacting the lives of those in need with every sale made, this generation of students is different.


Kayli Hillebrand, Vanguard University At the same time, the training and preparation process for these students looks different than it did when I was at VU. The foundation is still there – cultural understanding, presentation of the Gospel, how to partner with the locals – and yet, we are finding we have to go back to the basics.  Students are less prepared for the changed practicalities of international travel.  During trainings now, we go through:

  • how to obtain a passport
  • how to navigate both large and small airports
  • how to use public transportation
  • extensive training on how to engage with the people around you without the use of text messaging and social media!
  • very detailed emergency plans for each location traveled
  • how to be aware of your surroundings during travel (danger wears a different face these days).


With fundraising still being a significant challenge to participation in missions, we have shifted the focus from a one-time fundraising effort to teaching students how to build a support network that is committed to praying and financially giving.  In all we do, our desire is to set these students up for success and empower them to learn the skills and tools they will need not just for their time at VU, but that they can use for a lifetime.  We want them to be “missions-minded and -hearted” so that no matter the professional field they walk into, they know how to see and meet the needs of their neighbors and this world for the Kingdom of God.


We are committed to train up this generation into to believing and understanding that Your Story Matters (the VU slogan) does not just refer to them, but to every person they meet.  We are confident that students will walk in the truth that they genuinely can impact the world for the Kingdom of God right here, right now.


Kayli Hillebrand is the Associate Director of Outreach at Vanguard University.  Having graduated from Vanguard in 2006 with her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, she went on to complete her Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management from Hope International University in 2013.  Kayli has worked in several nonprofit arenas, focusing primarily on homelessness, addiction recover,y and mental health.  Kayli has been on staff at Vanguard since January 2013.


For more information about Outreach, contact her at


Sociology Professor at Vanguard University

Relevant or Redundant? Work Well for Change in Town

Ed Clarke, Vanguard University

Ed Clarke, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Vanguard University writes this month. He would love to help resource churches and pastors as we reach out to people in our cities!


As a masonry contractor, I participated in construction projects that changed the lives of people.  In Haiti, for instance, we built 22 schools that offered education and a healthy meal each day to children, and gave parents some hope and economic relief.


I now am a professor of Sociology at Vanguard University. I lead community-based research to understand better the issues related to homelessness in Orange County.  It takes a while to learn what really helps to relieve social problems!  Many believers are looking for ways to use their unique skills, and we need to do it well.


Here are a few basic steps I have learned in my search:


1. Identify and understand the problem.  Ask questions at City Hall. Do research to understand the community needs and select a focus.  Look for and listen to the concerns of the community.

2. Avoid redundancy.  Find out what others are doing and look for ways to address different problems.  Doing what is already being done limits the types of support possible.

3. Work with others.  Find friends and allies. I need to collaborate with others because my skills are limited.  God has placed in my hand particular tools; the larger the group the greater is the range of possibilities.


Christ followers all over America are becoming important and valued community partners.  Churches are helping to address serious and enduring problems within communities including poverty, homelessness, education, immigration and more.


May God help us “add value” to life in our cities!


To learn more about how this can be applied at your church, contact Ed at


More Caught than Taught

Vanguard University

Natalie Garcia became a student intern last spring, and her life took a whole new direction.


A junior, as part of the Vanguard University and SoCalNetwork internship, she served at Santa Paula, under Pastor Adelita Garza’s supervision, ten hours a week for ten weeks. She drove there every Friday night to rehearse with the worship team. Then Saturday morning, join in the prayer times, work on a joint outreach to the city, spend some time with Adel, and stay over to help lead the Spanish and English services on Sunday. And to watch.


She watched Adel, a female church planter/pastor, as she preached, prayed, led the growing congregation, interacted with the other pastors in town, and led helping ministries in city outreach, touching the needs of the town.


She thought: “What a wonderful way to live, and to impact people!”

And then she thought: “I’d like to do that. I think I could do that!”


Then came the day, and the new assignment from Adel:
“Don’t just lead worship. Next time, you do the teaching!”


She did. And the congregation affirmed God’s touch on her speaking.


She has been going there every weekend ever since, long after the internship program ended, and has become part of the congregation. Her focus, and relationships, have changed.


Now she is preparing for the pastoral life she saw modeled, close up. Internship does good things for interns.


In February, a new group of interns will go to some of our churches. Let us pray for divine appointments as they go.


Ministry is still more caught than taught.


Contact Adel at for more information.


To learn more about the VU and SoCal Network internships, contact Dave Gable at


Religion Department Colloquium

Religion Department Colloquium

Topic: Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture

Speakers: Dr. Richard Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary

and Dr. Jason Sexton, Co-editor of the Volume and Faculty member at Cal State Fullerton, Honors Department

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time: 4:30 pm – 5:45 pm

Great Commission Hall, Vanguard University

Refreshments will be served

Chapel credit


Vanguard University


A Hebrew Thanksgiving

Rich Israel, Vanguard University

Rich Israel, Chair of the Vanguard University Religion Department and Professor of Old Testament, wrote our featured article this month. As we prepare for Thanksgiving this month, he writes this –


George Washington initiated it nationally, on November 26, 1789, and Abe Lincoln institutionalized it in 1863, but Thanksgiving began here in America much earlier.

Claims for the first one include Texas, at San Elizario in 1598; Florida, at San Augustine, in 1565; Virginia, at Berkeley Hundred in 1619, as well as the Pilgrims, in Plymouth, in Massachusetts, 1621. The Pilgrims set theirs separate from Sabbath worship, held on a weekday, and ours is most like theirs.

But let’s step back even further, to Bible days. Let us consider Thanksgiving from the perspective of biblical festivals.

The Hebrew word for ‘thanksgiving’ is todah (תּוֹדָה). The todah offering is one example of a ‘sacrifice of well-being’ (zevach shelamim) (זֶבַח שְׁלָמִים) according to the instruction in Leviticus 7:11-15. Prayers of thanksgiving in the psalms are offered with sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 107:22, 116:17 for example.)

For a parallel to the Pilgrim festival of Thanksgiving, Deuteronomy 26:1-11 provides instructions for thanks to God as the Hebrews entered the promised land. The verses describe a harvest festival of first-fruits, probably celebrated in conjunction with the festival of weeks (called Pentecost in the New Testament.) The ‘order of service’ in the text indicates several steps:

  • A pilgrimage (vv.1-2)
  • A declaration by the worshipper (v.3): A testimony that God has been faithful to his promise of land (‘erets)( אֶרֶץ)
  • A transference of the offering to the priest (v.4)
  • A response by the worshipper (vv.5-10): A ‘historical credo’ (Latin for “I believe”) that acknowledges the “fruit of the ground (אֲדָמָה)” comes from the “gift of the land (אֶרֶץ).”
  • A communal celebration (v.11)

Through this festival, the Israelites were bearing witness that bountiful blessings come from a promise-keeping God, not the fertility deities of their Canaanite neighbors. Thanksgiving calls us to the same confession.


Contact Rich at for further information.