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U.Va. Student Takes Spiritual Search To Nigeria

May 6, 2002-- College isn’t just about job training.

"College is one of the most significant times in a person’s life for spiritual growth," said Brian Edmonds, who is graduating from the University of Virginia in May with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering.

"It’s a time to search out your spirituality," he said. "People must define what religion will be for them. They may realize their need for God or question their need for God."

Last summer, as part of his own search, Edmonds took a six-week trip to Nigeria sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, a 50-year-old non-denominational Christian outreach effort. Edmonds visited the campuses of the University of Jos and the Federal College of Education — Pankshin, a community college in central Nigeria.

"We went to meet students where they were and find out if they had a relationship with Jesus Christ," he said "Many students there didn’t know that many African Americans are Christians because most American missionaries are white. But talking to students our own age … allowed them to see Christianity in a different light. It’s not just about a preacher in a pulpit, but it’s a daily walk that requires humility and growth and love."

Growing up, Edmonds attended the Central Baptist Church on Baltimore’s west side. He sang in the church choir, participated in the annual Christmas and Easter programs, and, with his youth group, visited the sick.

"My parents were both raised in strong families that put an emphasis on their Christian faith, and they passed that on to their children," Edmonds said.

They also passed on a respect for education. Edmonds’ father, Joseph, is an electrical engineer working for Baltimore Gas & Electric, and his mother, Gail, is an administrator at Goucher College. His sister, Anike, 28 (U.Va. CLAS ’98), is an entertainment lawyer in San Francisco, and his brother, Joseph, 23, is in divinity school at Union Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with Columbia University, in New York.

After graduating from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a math and science magnet school, Edmonds signed on with the systems program at U.Va.’s engineering school, which allowed him the flexibility to take classes in religion and philosophy. He made friends through the First-Year Fellowship, a non-denominational Christian group, and Black Voices.

This summer, he plans a missionary trip to Capetown, South Africa.

After that, he plans to return to Charlottesville for a one-year internship as a staff member for Impact, a chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ that is reaching out to African American students. He then would like to work for a management-consulting firm before moving into the non-profit sector.

"I would find it hard to work 15 hours a day to boost the bottom line of a big corporation," Edmonds said. "But to work 17 hours a day so somebody could have a roof over his head or have enough to eat, I could find the strength to do that."

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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