Anderson University Students Serve Others Over Spring Break
Forty Anderson University students served in three separate mission trips over spring break ranging from Baltimore to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., to Belize, Central America.
The trip to Baltimore involved 21 students in the North American Mission Board’s project entitled Embrace Baltimore, which seeks to plant new churches in this city in the parts of it which are plagued by crime, HIV/AIDS, and poverty. The students worked directly with Lead Pastor Tally Wilgis of Captivate Christian Church—one of the new churches planted through the project. The students’ work there included light construction, food relief for migrant workers, flyer distribution, and working with children at a local learning center for at-risk children. “The trip to Baltimore helped me experience how much God can change people’s lives in less than a week, said Jessica Shumake, a junior from Sumter. “A lady that we got to spend some time with told us on the last day we were there ‘God has been here and He will never leave.’ That was such a blessing to hear her say those words.” The AU students were accompanied on the trip by Becky Walker, Anderson’s Associate Campus Minister of Women’s Ministry.
A second mission project—the Luke 10 Project—involved 12 male AU students who were divided into three groups and dropped off in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia with only the clothes on their back, a Bible, a journal, a map of the city, and a cell phone for emergencies. The purpose of the trip was to develop complete trust in the Lord for His provision for five days, as the 72 were asked to do by Christ in Luke 10. “God’s provision of our ‘necessities’ gave us the ability to focus wholeheartedly on loving others and spreading the Good News,” said Victor Rogers, a junior from Cobleskill, N.Y. “Not only this, but the way we were provided for gave us opportunities to serve that we never could have dreamed of. Spending a night in a shelter is humbling, but at the same time those living in these situations daily gain a new respect for you and are more willing to listen to what you have to say.”
The trip was the brainchild of associate campus minister Russ Bennett, who was challenged by two books he read recently: Mark Batterson’s The Wild Goose Chase and Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. “I genuinely wanted these young men to see for the first time, God provide for their every need,” said Bennett. “Thankfully, God did more than I could have asked for. Homeless men walked 14 blocks, in tears, to see our guys off, a young Loyola University student named Caroline accepted Christ, an atheist now wants to have spiritual conversations, and a community of AIDS victims got to hear the Gospel.”
The third mission trip sent seven students and two professors to Belize where they worked in two schools—one in a city and one in the rural countryside— serving students and teachers by preparing food, providing instruction, and furnishing supplies. The idea for the mission trip came from Dr. Meg Walworth, professor of education at AU, who has made three previous trips to Belize. “Each time I’ve traveled to Belize, I have been humbled by the pure joy with which the people praise God, said Dr. Walworth. “Most of the people in Belize do not have the material things that we have; many don’t even have the things we think are necessary to survive—water, food, and shelter. But they have God in their hearts and His work is visible in their daily lives.”
Dr. Walworth, who has previously traveled to Belize alone, was accompanied by Dr. Linda McCuen and seven students: “Dr. McCuen and I were moved to tears time and time again as we watched Anderson University students and listened to their words. Most of them encountered poverty and need far beyond anything they had ever experienced, and they responded with grace and compassion. We felt God at work in our students and we saw His power and mercy in their words and actions.”
“Something I really learned is that the need for God is the same everywhere,” said sophomore Dee Powell of Williamston. “Whether you live in a country with Facebook, television, soft drinks and leftovers, or in a country with barely enough to survive, a longing for God and the hope only He can provide is ever present.”