A Call to Ministry: Lauren Humphrey uses graphic design skills to illustrate Bible for African children

Lauren Humphrey presents at the 2019 Student Research and Creative Works Expo.

Lauren Humphrey came to UA Little Rock on a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps scholarship to study graphic design. During her time on campus, she discovered another passion: a desire to work in ministry.

“I felt called, but not specifically,” she said. “I know that I want to go into ministry, and I would love to do international missions. I always say I’d pack up now and leave if I could.”

Humphrey, 22, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, will graduate on May 11 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design, but she won’t be gone from campus too long. She will return this fall to begin a 10-month internship with Chi Alpha Christian Ministry, which hosts weekly worship gatherings, discipleship groups, retreats, and mission trips for UA Little Rock students.

Chi Alpha staff are full-time missionaries who disciple students on campus. Humphrey’s internship is through the Assembly of God and will help her earn credentials to be appointed as an Assembly of God minister. Humphrey will work with students and then lead an international mission trip in summer 2020.

“After, I will ask the Lord if He will have me to serve in the States or in Africa,” she said.

Humphrey fell in love with international mission work on a Chi Alpha mission trip. Each summer, Chi Alpha takes teams of 15 to 20 students to Africa or Asia for a month. Humphrey traveled to Zambia one summer and to Sri Lanka and Thailand another. Upon returning from Asia, she got a tattoo of the world’s continents on her forearm. It’s a visual reminder that “the Lord is reminding me that I’m unlimited, that He is everywhere.”

Humphrey’s campus pastor, Cody Griggs, suggested she go on her own for a longer period of time if she was considering full-time international missions.

“It was a test of calling – seeing if I could manage a budget, find ministry opportunities, enjoy living among a different culture, and feel a calling from the Lord to go back long term,” she said. “I got a calling to devote my life to ministry. I would love to go back to Africa. It’s my dream, but I want to be in the Lord’s will. I want to be where the Lord would have me.”

Last summer, Humphrey spent three months in Zambia, working with two ministries: The Zambia Project, a Christian nonprofit that establishes churches in the region, and Village of Hope, which serves homeless and orphaned children. The Zambia Project also provides medical services, builds water wells, and translates Bibles into other village languages.

Humphrey stayed in Mongu, which has a school, a hospital, a center where caretakers learn how to care for malnourished children, and a therapy department that helps children with physical and mental disabilities.

“While I was there, I was talking to one of the physical therapists who said it would be really good if they had a Bible for kids,” she said. “The only printed Bible in Mongu is like the King James that uses old English type language that is very hard for children to understand, and it’s not illustrated,” she said.

Humphrey heard similar sentiments from other missionaries in the area and decided to use her graphic art skills to create an illustrated Bible for African children. The project was part of her Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis project that she presented in April.

Although English is the official language of Zambia, the Lozi dialect is more commonly used in Mongu. Humphrey found an online New International Version  of the Lozi Bible which she used. Illustrating the entire Bible would be difficult to accomplish in a year, so she started with the Book of Luke, one of the Gospels in the New Testament.

“The book is aimed at the second-grade level,” she said. “Those are kids who can read and want to know more about Jesus, but they also need illustrations and bright colors to stay captivated. With the help of an adult reader, it could also be read to little children, and they would also enjoy the illustrations.”

Humphrey selected stories to illustrate and Bible verses to highlight. She needed to test prototypes and experiment with book binding when she learned about UA Little Rock’s Signature Experience Awards program, which provides funding for undergraduate students to work on research or creative works with a professor.

With the grant, she purchased a thermal binding machine, paper, and ink. Her finished project was a 72-page, full-color book she displayed at the Student Research and Creative Works Expo on April 18. Her mentor was Kevin Cates, associate professor of graphic design.

“These probably won’t be sent to Zambia since it would be much more economical for them to be printed in South Africa,” she said of the publication. However, Humphrey hopes to start a nonprofit called Translation Hope so she can raise funds to pay for Bible printing and distribution.

In addition to being a student leader in Chi Alpha, Humphrey has worked on The Forum student newspaper as a designer, section editor, editor, and then executive editor. She also has interned in the Chancellor’s Office. Off campus, she works part-time for the after-school program at Lakewood United Methodist Church in North Little Rock and volunteers with the children and youth ministries at Otter Creek Assembly of God in Little Rock.

Humphrey is the daughter of Anthony and Kim Humphrey of Fort Smith.

Top right photo: Lauren Humphrey exhibits her illustrated children’s Bible at the Student Research and Creative Works Expo on April 18 in the Jack Stephens Center. Above photo: Lauren Humphrey binds pages together in a Bible she illustrated for children in Zambia. The project was part of her BFA in graphic design thesis project.

Photos by Benjamin Krain

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