Political Science Adjunct Runs, Walks Across U.S. for Orphan Awareness
"Each journey begins with a single step," Rev. Wayne Lavender, a United Methodist pastor and Virginia Wesleyan adjunct faculty member, posted on his Twitter page Jan. 1 with an image of his own blue tennis shoe on the sands of the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The footstep marked the beginning of the “TREK Across America for Orphans” for the executive director of Foundation4Orphans—a five-month journey in which Lavender is running, walking and driving across the United States to draw attention to the educational, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Lavender, who teaches in the College’s Political Science Department, was recently on campus to talk about his TREK at a lunch sponsored by VWC’s Center for the Study of Religious Freedom. He shared details of the trip that will take him across Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Colorado and Oregon. His goal is to arrive in Portland in time for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in May. In addition to raising awareness, Lavender hopes to raise funds for new orphan projects in Mozambique, Iraq, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo while generating support and signers on a petition to General Conference that encourages the United Methodist Church to embrace orphans and vulnerable children as the missional priority of the denomination. Lavender lived in Northern Iraq from 2011 to 2013 before returning to the U.S. to work with several non-profit organizations in the area. He taught at the University of Human Development and was a consultant to the Kurdistan regional government. He has authored several books, including his most recent, Who Will Care for the Orphan: If You Are A United Methodist, It Could Be You. Follow Lavender’s commendable journey on his website and Twitter page.