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.



Christmas Fantasia – Group Sales

Christmas Fantasia, Vanguard University Kick off the Christmas season with us! Enjoy favorite carols and breathtaking masterpieces performed by Vanguard University’s 200-member choirs and orchestra, in the elegance and acoustical perfection of two stunning venues -


Tuesday, December 2
8pm | Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Friday, December 5
8pm | St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

**Group discounts are available at the December 2 concert ONLY**


This would be a great way to bless your Church staff or board members!


Katie Heemstra
Vanguard University Special Events
(714) 966-5441 |

Event hashtags – #ChristmasFantasia #VUMusic


Christmas Fantasia, Vanguard University


Missionary Intern to a “Start Up” Mission

Vanguard University


We can’t tell the name of the places.


In at least one case, no known local Christians are there.


“Missionaries” are just at the stage of trying to “make friends,” and “making disciples” is somewhere in the future.


Vanguard University students Niki TVanguard University rueb ’16 and Kiera Husband ’16 spent 8 weeks last summer, with teams of Assemblies of God workers, in a pilot missionary project, learning missions at this earliest of stages.


They were Vanguard representatives among the 20 students from AG universities from across the nation that AG World Missions sponsored in this front-edge effort. AGWM picked up all the cost except $1500 in an experiment to help students learn how to introduce the news of Jesus where He is not known.


Practically speaking, how do you do this? Organized meetings are out of the question. Song services, “street meetings,” sermons? Not for quite awhile.


Instead, you introduce the idea that you are a follower Jesus in the first five minutes of every conversation. They spent time with Christ each day, focused on him, then talked about him. It is Vanguard University about Jesus.


They taught English, learned the local language, lived with their own cooking, and cold water only. And started friendships.


When the opportunity for followup questions came, they were ready. And the questions did come. In one case, it was a local leader who asked, “”Can you give me a French Bible? Who is this Jesus? Why do you believe this when I believe that?”


Vanguard University From Niki: My biggest takeaway is definitely the fact that I have so much more confirmation in my faith after this trip – seeing these people live such empty lives based on what we know as lies, confirmed everything I have ever believed in Jesus Christ. However, these people are also the most loving individuals I have ever met, and my heart remains on that little island, with people who I was afraid of at first but are now some of my nearest and dearest friends. I was there for 58 days and my heart definitely broke in more than 58 ways, I will never forget my time there and definitely plan on returning after school!




From Kiera: I learned how to love people without needing to use words; our actions make all the difference. God showed me the importance of loving every person no matter how different they are. Sharing the Gospel requires at times being put out. GoinVanguard University g to Eastern Europe has showed me how big a God we serve, and the heart He has for His people. Jesus died to save everyone not just a few. When we look at people according to the worth God sees them, that makes all the difference.


Was this investment worth it, or was this just an interesting summer junket? “I left my heart there. I will go back.” That kind of evaluation suggests that it has already paid off for all.



For more information on VU’s many summer trips:

Kayli Hillebrand

Vanguard University Global Outreach

(714) 662-5262 |


Assemblies of God World Missions


Vanguard University