It’s been 34 years since Sherrill (Hennings, ’71) Bragg first set foot on Peruvian soil. Four children and 14 grandchildren later, Sherrill is currently working to complete a project she and her husband, Everett Bragg (’71), started in the Peruvian jungle six years ago. After Biola, Sherrill and Everett moved to South America to work with tribes in the Amazon. Soon, the couple learned that native children were being accused of sorcery and were being beaten or killed by local witch doctors. “We had heard stories from other missionaries in the past about this cultural practice,” Sherrill said. “We began to receive and discover other cases of native children being burned, buried alive and beaten to death after being accused of being a witch and causing sickness in the villages.” The Braggs started The Refuge of Glory Asheninka Children’s Shelter in 2007 to take in abused children and to protect children from torture and captivity. Now in 2013, the shelter is still unfinished. “We have had enormous spiritual warfare involved in this project but desire to see it finished so that the innocent children can be rescued and transformed by the power of God,” Sherrill said. Before moving to Peru to work with the Asheninka tribe, Sherrill graduated from Biola with a degree in Christian education and later took a few doctoral classes through the intercultural studies department. “I was challenged to give my life totally to the cause of Christ and his Great Commission,” she said. This year, Sherrill and her husband have temporarily relocated to Killeen, Texas, and have been speaking to local churches about their children’s shelter.
Erin DaSilva (’10) recently became a race director for Ugly Dog Events, a 5K race organization based in San Diego, Calif., that facilitates creatively themed races across the country. The adventure-racing company creates everything from urban scavenger hunts to mud runs to a glow-in-the-dark nighttime 5K where runners dash through walls of glow water each kilometer. Erin oversees and manages three races from start to finish. Ugly Dog gives 10 percent of proceeds from their races to charity, and part of Erin’s job is to connect each race, like “Muddy Mama” and the “Mustache Dash,” to a nonprofit organization. A former softball player at Biola, Erin said learning to cultivate friendships at Biola helped her know how to work well with the team at her current job. “I think my Biola education definitely prepared me to extend compassion to my peers, race competitors and those in need through business,” Erin said. After graduating from Biola with a degree in business management, Erin earned a certificate in event and meeting planning from California State University, Fullerton, and she is currently finishing up her master’s degree in sports management from San Diego State University. This year, Erin was required to work an internship for her graduate program, and after searching for job opportunities, she found Ugly Dog Events. Working her way up into a management position and becoming the director of race directors is one of Erin’s future goals. With the experience she has now in race directing and event planning, she also hopes to eventually get into music festival planning.
In 2012, Craig Mayes (M.A. ’80) was named the new executive director of the New York City Rescue Mission, the oldest rescue mission in the United States. After volunteering at the rescue mission for four years, Mayes was asked to step into the executive role. “I went from the kitchen to the top floor,” Mayes said. “I most of the time prefer to be in the kitchen, but this is what God has for me right now.” Mayes, who pastored two megachurches prior to his role at the mission, said he feels like he’s in the right place working with the poor. Instead of just feeding and clothing the homeless in the city, Mayes said he is looking to implement more long-term programs that will attack the root of homelessness. “We’re going to eliminate hunger and homelessness one life at a time, in the name of Jesus,” Mayes said. Prior to working at the NYC Rescue Mission, Mayes attended Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, where he earned his master’s degree in theology. Influenced to pursue counseling after Rosemead School of Psychology came under the Biola umbrella in 1977, Mayes went on to earn his Ph.D. in counseling from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., where he eventually became a faculty member and head of the psychology department. It was in Detroit that Mayes got his first experience working at an inner city rescue mission and addiction treatment center. His work in Detroit and a trip to India influenced Mayes to help start a church in New York focused on helping the poor in the community. In the future, Mayes said he and his wife, Chris, want to continue working to end homelessness and to fulfill the biblical mandate to care for the poor and needy.