Samantha Shepard works through Americorps Vista in the Office of Student Development at Iowa Wesleyan University to coordinate service learning and civil engagement projects between faculty, students, and community partners.
As a student she took a class trip to Haiti, where she encountered a tiny baby girl named Sophie who was fighting for each breath she took in a children’s hospital. “I reached out for her hand, and as our fingers touched, her eyes began to open. All at once, I felt both her pain and her hope.”
After many years of searching, she says, “that trip was the first time I felt God’s presence.” A friend invited her to a Bible study and then to church. “God placed her there for me to have someone to look up to, to question, to confide in.”
Gradually, she noticed changes in her life as she explored the Word, thanked Jesus every day, and asked the Holy Spirit to help her “live like I should.” Surrounded by supportive peers, she felt ready for her next step. She asked Ron Bupp, the director of campus ministry at the university, to baptize her last February. She wanted to “show that I have committed my life completely to Jesus.”
The Iowa Conference invested $29,000 in apportionment gifts from the local churches of Iowa toward Iowa Wesleyan University last year.