Editor's note: Numerous Oklahoma churches, universities and faith-based organizations share their faith in both tangible and intangible ways with people in the United States and abroad. Here are several stories about spring and summer mission trips.
A group of metro area college students became impromptu fire fighters when a catastrophe occurred during their summer mission trip to Tanzania, Africa.
Ben Langford, director of the Center for Global Missions at Oklahoma Christian University, said he and 10 undergraduate students became part of a “bucket brigade” during their visit to the Tanzanian village of Chimala for the first three weeks of May. He said Chimala is the site of the oldest Church of Christ hospital in Africa, and it also is home to a primary and secondary school.
Several days into their visit, the students were participating in their nightly devotional session when a Church of Christ missionary told them about a fire at the secondary school's girls' dormitory. Langford said the group was shocked when they ran about a half a mile to see the dormitory engulfed in flames.
He said he feared the worst when they learned that the closest fire station was about an hour and a half away from the school.
“Flames were shooting up 40 and 50 feet. We thought ‘This thing is going to burn to the ground,'” Langford said.
Nick Poulos, 21, an OC junior, said a fellow OC student wondered where the fire fighters were.
“She said she thought ‘Where are the firemen?' and then she realized that we are the firemen,” Poulos said.
Langford and Poulos said the girls who lived in the dormitory had been elsewhere so they knew no one was in danger of being injured. However, Langford said losing the dormitory and its contents to fire would be catastrophic for the school and village so the OC students joined with about 100 Tanzanians to put out the fire.
A bucket brigade was soon formed to transport water from a creek about 50 yards away, Langford said.
“It took us three hours and we saved half of the building,” he said. “It was a pretty amazing experience.”
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It took us three hours and we saved half of the building. It was a pretty amazing experience.”