By Natalie Ferjulian
While some college students are picking up part-time jobs or catching up on lost sleep, many Gordon students continue to live out their faith by serving others over Christmas break. From installing paintings in a local Lynn elementary school to building homes in Haiti, over 50 Gordon students are participating in service-related projects this Christmas season.
Launching the service season is Professor Tanja Butler’s Painting I class, which spent the semester creating artwork for the foyer of Harrington Elementary School in Lynn, Massachusetts.
“The pieces are designed to reinforce the character-building themes built into the school’s curriculum,” said Butler. “The Harrington School wanted a boost, so the project was in part a response. This is a great opportunity for our students to serve through their art.”
Students will also take their talents abroad on one of three mission trips January 1–19, 2011. Teams of up to 15 students from across academic disciplines, along with one or two staff members on each team, will travel to Mexico, Haiti and Guatemala.
“These trips expand the horizon of concern for our students as well as their level of self-knowledge and their understanding of God’s presence in their lives and His work in the world,” said Laura Carmer, director of missions. “The students take their energy, enthusiasm and desire to serve and love others. They work with and learn from people who are already doing important work in their own contexts.”
Coming alongside folks who are already doing great work is a common theme among the trips. The team of 14 students going to Haiti will work with Partners in Development, an organization based on the North Shore that’s been serving in Haiti for over 20 years to help build homes for families in need.
“My hope for this team is that we would be able to demonstrate a humble attitude while we work under the supervision of Haitian professionals,” said student team leader Timothy Helgesen, a senior English major from Manchester, Massachusetts, who has served on two previous trips as well. “I would like to see our team members develop a passion for service in and out of their own communities.”
The Mexico Outreach team of 14 members will represent the 20th year Gordon students have served in Mexico over Christmas break. They will continue the longstanding relationship Gordon College has with churches in Tijuana and with La Casa de la Esperanza orphanage. This year’s team will spend time painting, cleaning, renovating, and running a vacation Bible school program for the children at La Casa.
The World Focus team will travel to Guatemala, where they will work with a church-planting ministry called Mision de las Americas and Beyond Partnership. “Our real goal is to build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ,” said trip staff leader Phil Williams, director of development operations at Gordon. ”We plan to help with construction projects and work with children in the community.”
While students prepare for upcoming service opportunities, they’ve also been working on a variety of fundraising projects throughout the fall semester to help pay for the trips. From Fair Trade coffee sales to student “survival kits” during final exams, the teams commit to raising funds as well as participating in various training sessions before flying to their destinations.
“Service is so important because it reminds us that life isn’t all about us,” said Helgesen. “It’s a chance for Christians—American Christians—to show the world that we serve a living God who cares about each person today and for the future.”
|Ministries and Outreach at Gordon
|Christian Ministries Major|
| Art Students Paint for Lynn Elementary School