What started as a simple “yes” to serving on a mission trip, has led to an unparalleled passion for The Lord and His people in Baja California, Mexico for Dee Baddley(’16).
During her junior year at Lipscomb, the former family relations major signed up to serve on a mission trip in Baja with her softball team. Little did she know, this opportunity would ultimately lead to newfound growth in her faith and leadership, a vocational calling to serve others and a home-away-from-home in Baja.
“When I signed up for this mission trip in 2015, I didn’t know what to expect, but knew my heart longed for big things to happen and for God to be experienced,” said Baddley. “This was not my first mission trip, but it was ultimately a trip that changed my life. That week was the first time I consistently experienced God. Everything about this trip sucked me in, like a moth to a flame.”
In August 2015, the softball team flew to Mexico to serve alongside Baja Missions, a ministry that exists to demonstrate the love of Jesus through spiritual guidance, physical relief and church planting in Baja, in two impoverished communities: Colonet and Diaz Ordaz.
Initially struck by the warm welcome she received from mothers, fathers, children, pastors and teachers alike, Baddley said she knew there was something so intentional and unique about these communities.
“The moment we entered their presence, their homes and their churches, we were welcomed as family,” said Baddley. “It was just so different. They had a way about them and their gentle presence shouted, ‘you’re finally here! We have been expectantly waiting for you as if you were our long-lost children finally coming home.’”
Throughout the week, the softball team engaged in various medical clinics, VBS classes and assisted in building houses for community members in both Colonet and Diaz Ordaz.
“Before we left for Baja, I prayed that every ounce of my being and every piece of me that God had stitched together so uniquely, would be used for His good throughout the week,” said Baddley. “I wanted to radiate God’s love to both the community we were serving and to my fellow softball teammates. During the trip, I quickly learned that when God shines through us, there’s no stopping it – His light cannot and will not be hidden.”
For Baddley, one of the most profound aspects of the trip was bonding with her softball teammates and sharing in vulnerable moments together. These moments ultimately allowed for each person to recognize their true identity and calling in Christ, she said.
“This experience opened our eyes to how much more there is beyond the sport we play,” said Baddley. “I left Baja caring more about the change I could bring to the world than I did success on a field. I realized that I wanted success more in my faith and in my purpose than I did anywhere else and that trip propelled me into seeking that. It set the stage for who I wanted to be and how I wanted to lead going into my final two years.”
Throughout the next two years, Baddley worked with Lipscomb Athletic Missions and Baja Missions to lead the Lipscomb softball team back to Baja in 2016 and 2017.
Following her graduation from Lipscomb in May 2016, Baddley also had a two-year stint in Iowa City, Iowa, where she pursued a Master’s of Science degree in Child Life at the University of Iowa and helped lead the Athletes in Action ministry chapter on-campus. During her final semester in 2018, God led her back to Nashville to participate in a Child Life Internship at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital from January to May.
In May 2018, two weeks after receiving her master’s degree, Baddley left for an entire summer in Baja California, Mexico, where she worked with Baja Missions for eight weeks as a translator and leader for various mission groups alongside her former teammate McCarly Thomas (’17). During her final week in Mexico, Baddley reunited with the Lipscomb softball team and led the mission group through seven days of serving in medical clinics and VBS classes, as well as building houses.
Today, Baddley works as a full-time child life specialist in the Orthopedic Clinic at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where she uses her passions to love and serve children, each day. She also plans to lead her fifth consecutive mission trip with Lipscomb’s softball team to Baja this August.
“My trips to Baja have strengthened my faith tremendously,” said Baddley. “I dedicate more time to my relationship with Christ and trying to intentionally serve others in my everyday life, rather than simply for a week in the summer. These trips have also opened my eyes to how powerful and truly important it is to love and pour into people. The servant hearts of the people that I have come to love in Baja are examples for how I want to live my life and serve those around me. I am very thankful that God used my time with Lipscomb Softball to bring me to Mexico and serve alongside Baja Missions.”
To learn more about Lipscomb Athletic Missions, click here.