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From Baker to Mozambique

There is no shortage of stories about the impact that referring Baker to friends and family can have on the student and on the university. Here’s one that started more than 100 years ago, and its impact traveled across the globe.

In 1903, Clara Evans enrolled at Baker University at the urging of a good friend and her pastor. On campus she studied languages and met her future husband, Pliny Whittier Keys, through the Student Volunteer Band, made up of students planning to become missionaries. After graduating in 1909, Clara and Pliny were married and then set out for Inhambane on the east coast of Africa in Portuguese East Africa, now known as Mozambique.

Clara and Pliny pioneered new missionary strategies by providing education and meeting the practical firsthand needs of the people in the region, what they called the training of hand, heart, and head.

Their first task was starting a school for boys and teaching them in their native tongue of Xitswa and in Portuguese. Over their decades of service, they and a growing community of missionaries and medical professionals acquired land for farming, built a hospital, started a school for girls, and developed a theological school. They also built workshops for woodworking, handcrafts, spinning, and weaving. This created vast opportunities for the young people throughout the region. Graduates from the schools returned to their homes as pastors and teachers and with valuable skills.

The Rev. Pliny Keys died in 1942, and Clara Evans Keys finished her last term of service in 1955. Their system of self-support, skills training, and education was widely copied by other denominations.

We’d like to thank, Ed Kinzer, MD, for providing us a copy of Clara Keys’ account of their years in Mozambique. He was inspired by the experiences described there, and after a nearly 40-year career as a country doctor, he moved into missionary medicine in 1993, serving in Mozambique and Nigeria.

“The Keys started the process, and I was fortunate enough to have the honor to contribute to it,” Dr. Kinzer said. Dr. Kinzer is the great nephew of Dr. Samuel Alexander Lough (shown right), president of Baker from 1917 to 1921.

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