Christina Charles, a former Truett McConnell University (TMU) women’s soccer player, and 2018 Bachelor of Arts in World Missions graduate, has been serving in East Africa since September of her graduation year.

Looking back on her time at TMU, the former Lady Bear attributes much of her growth to Women’s Head Soccer Coach David McDowell, and professor Dr. Van Sanders, who is Interim Director of the World Missions Center at the university. Charles says these two men poured into her life by pointing her to Christ and facilitating her education and growth through accountability.

Bear family
“Being a part of the women’s soccer team was the most influential part of my time at TMU and grew me the most as a person,” said Charles. “Coach McDowell has built a program that taught me how to pursue excellence, be a team player, submit to all types of authority in my life, build community, work hard, and put others before myself.”

Mike Croley, TMU’s Head Baseball Coach and his wife Erica also impacted Charles by hosting weekly Bible studies for women in their home. Charles says, “The relationship I have built with the Croley family had a profound influence on my walk with the Lord.”

A heart for missions
Engagement with the World Missions Center allowed Charles to learn more about Jesus and His mission for His people to reach the world with the gospel. “Mission trips with Dr. Sanders gave me a taste of life on the mission field, as well as opportunities to practice what I learned in the classroom.”

“Apart from preparing me well for life after college,” she said, “Truett McConnell gave me coaches, professors, classmates, and friends who prayed with me–and for me–in figuring out my next steps. Those relationships have been a huge source of encouragement as I have moved overseas.”

“This summer,” Charles added, “Dr. Sanders brought a team of students to Nairobi to serve with me for a week. This was a full-circle moment from once being a participant on a TMU mission trip to leading a team.”

As she looks to the future, the TMU graduate plans to continue vocational missions wherever the Lord leads as she finishes up her two-year commitment in East Africa.

Charles says, “I’ve heard Dr. Caner say on several occasions, ‘I would rather train 300 warriors than 3,000 wimps.’ And I think that quote sums up TMU well.”


Maggie Reeves is the Content Assistant for the Marketing and Communications Department.

photo/Christian Charles

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