Krystal Underwood ('11) | Social Work/Gerontology

krystal underwood

Bachelor of Science in Social Work and Certificate in Gerontology

Apprentice for Christian Missionary Fellowship at Missions of Hope International in Nairobi, Kenya

ACU's mission is "to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world." Some take those words literally.

Krystal Underwood ('11) is living out that mission statement in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is helping disadvantaged children in the famine-ravaged African nation. For Krystal, the chance to serve others has opened her eyes to a world she never knew existed.

"My heart is constantly breaking. God is calling me to let go of control and to let go of my worldviews," Krystal says. "This is definitely the most difficult, but most rewarding experience of my life. I am being stripped of everything I once knew and realizing the privileges I took for granted in the States were not deserved. The Father is calling me ever so closely to see the world as He sees it."

Study Abroad offers new worldview

The chance to travel in ACU's Study Abroad program to Oxford, England, in 2009 opened Krystal's eyes to the vastness of the world she lived in. For Krystal, time abroad and classes in ACU's Department of Social Work instilled a longing to help those who need helping and to serve those who need service.

"I am grateful for the hearts of my professors as they shared with us their passion for social justice and empowerment.  My classmates and I were fortunate enough to have the small class size making it possible to build strong relationships with one another and our professors," Krystal says. "There is something about being prayed for by your professors that ultimately breaks down any levels of hierarchy making education more like a partnership for God’s kingdom."

Krystal completed internships at an Abilene hospital and a local Alzheimer's center. But she made a point to develop relationships with the numerous refugee children in Abilene, and along the way realized her calling. 

From streets of Abilene to slums of Nairobi

"During the last two years of my college experience, my friends and I were intentional in building relationships with refugee children in the Abilene community, and through those young hearts my own began to yearn for Africa," Krystal says. Abilene is a major site for resettlement of refugees by the International Rescue Committee.

Krystal's passion has taken her from the streets of Abilene to the slums of Nairobi, where she is working on an apprenticeship with Christian Missionary Fellowship at Missions of Hope International. Her time at ACU gave her a hunger to help others and the tools to make a tangible difference.

"God is given all the glory for my presence here in Nairobi. My story isn't greater than anyone else who chooses to listen to the story the Creator has written for them to follow. There is something about being in fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ that sharpens the spirit to follow the life God wants you to lead."

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