Baptized in the Amazon: Belmont Mission Trip Sparks Spiritual Awakening for Senior Nursing Student

The Amazon River at sunset
Stories of Impact

Baptized in the Amazon: Belmont Mission Trip Sparks Spiritual Awakening for Senior Nursing Student

April 2, 2024 | by Clara LoCricchio

At Belmont, mission work goes beyond taking trips — it's about continually finding ways for students to participate in the work God is doing locally and globally. For senior nursing student Jayden Stidham, one such opportunity in the Amazon rainforest sparked a life-changing spiritual awakening. 

Belmont on Mission seeks to empower and equip students to engage and transform the world through spiritually significant, vocationally relevant and sustainable service opportunities. In partnership with Justice & Mercy International, one Belmont team journeyed down the Amazon River by boat during spring break, serving village communities through VBS activities, health training, construction projects and prayer. 

Stidham initially signed up for the weeklong mission trip in 2023 on a whim, intrigued by the "cool adventure.” However, the adventure in question turned out to be so much more impactful than she could have anticipated. 

During the trip, Stidham immersed herself in the local culture, rotating through responsibilities like leading children's programs, assisting with medical clinics and making home visits. Despite her initial uncertainties, Stidham found herself profoundly impacted by the deep faith she witnessed among the local families, stirring an unexpected spiritual awakening in her own heart. "Throughout the week, I sensed a shift happening within me,” Stidham recalled. “It was as if God was opening up a new chapter I hadn't anticipated." 

Belmont actively cultivates these transformative opportunities, seeking to provide sustainable ways for students to live out their faith while broadening their worldview. Stidham embraced that calling wholeheartedly, nurturing her newfound spirituality through practices like prayer and journaling after returning home. 

The impact of that first trip to Brazil was so meaningful that Stidham opted to join the following year's expedition, this time with a new goal in mind — to publicly profess her faith through baptism.  

jsamazon-thumbnail.jpg"One morning, after breakfast and devotional, our professor took us all off the boat to a small beach,” Stidham said. “I was baptized in the very place where I rediscovered my faith alongside all the people I love so dearly.” 

Stidham's experience powerfully exemplifies how Belmont opens doors for students to deepen their faith while broadening their worldview through unforgettable service-learning opportunities. By nurturing both spiritual and professional growth, the University prepares students to bring Christ-centered care and compassionate service to communities around the world. 

To learn more about her experience on mission and Stidham’s baptism, read her blog post on Justice & Mercy International’s website.