Imagine a life with no running water, no electricity, no Chick-fil-A and no favorite soda in 120-degree weather. A life without the things we deem a necessity might be hard to envision, but that is the life Sara Lansford chose after graduating in 2007 from the University of Mobile with a theology degree. She moved to Timbuktu.
Lansford is one example of how the University of Mobile equips students to change the world for the better, in whatever career field they find themselves in. At UM, Lansford enjoyed hosting “Family Game Night” in Ingram Hall and going on mission trips to Macedonia and Niger.
“When I got to UM, I was still exploring my call to ministry. I wasn’t exactly sure what it looked like, but international mission trips to Macedonia and Niger played a huge role in helping me figure it out,” says Lansford. Niger was a turning point in her life.
“It was the first time this Alabama girl realized that there literally are people who still haven’t heard the name of Jesus,” says Lansford, a 2003 graduate of Athens High School in Athens, Alabama.
After graduating from UM, Lansford had the opportunity to go back to West Africa as a journeyman with the International Mission Board. She and her teammates joined the Oral Peoples Strategy team, which ultimately resulted in a story set being produced in the Songhai language.
“Even if the Songhai people had complete access to the written Word in their language, it wouldn’t benefit the vast majority of their population, because they are an oral culture,” says Lansford.
In Mali, she found joy in serving and loving the Songhai people.
“We worked to produce a set of oral Bible stories in the local language. The stories were played on the radio, distributed on cassette tapes and micro SD cards, and were used among other missionaries working with the Songhai in other parts of West Africa,” she says.
Once Lansford’s time in the mission field was over, she served as a children’s minister for about 10 years before joining LifeWay’s team as a production editor at LifeWay Christian Resources, on their kids publishing team.
In February, Lansford Skyped in to be a guest speaker for two University of Mobile School of Christian Studies classes: Principles of Bible Translation and Intercultural Foundations.
“I enjoyed getting to share my experience doing oral translation work because, when most people think ‘Bible translation,’ they are probably thinking of the written Word, but there are so many unreached people groups from oral cultures. I also enjoyed getting to share about living in Sub-Saharan Africa with Dr. (Douglas) Wilson’s Foundations class. I’m so grateful for my experience as a journeyman and would relive it in a heartbeat,” says Lansford.
According to Lansford, after her time as a guest speaker, she realized the potential impact the students could have for the kingdom while their time at the University of Mobile prepared them for their future careers.
When Lansford graduated, she was challenged to “Go Change the World.”
“I like to think that the University of Mobile prepared me and challenged me to be intentional in finding ways to help change the world, one little corner at the time,” says Lansford.
Featured Image: Sara Lansford, center, tells “The Demon-Possessed Man” story from Mark 5:1-18 to women waiting in line at a medical clinic in West Africa.