When Northwestern College junior Kevin Sas received an e-mail last spring about the Spencer W. Perkins Fellowship in urban ministry, he knew it was a good opportunity. “I applied because I’m very interested in social justice and ministry to the poor,” he says.
The Spencer W. Perkins Fellowship was created by the Nehemiah Corporation of America to give college students hands-on experience in urban environments, dealing with racial reconciliation and social justice issues. Sas, a Christian education major from Hull, Iowa, was one of 12 students selected from across the nation to participate in the program. His fellowship assignment took him to Charlottesville (Va.) Abundant Life Ministries (CALM).
CALM, which formed in 1995, is a partnership between local residents and church volunteers in a neighborhood of primarily single-parent families. CALM addresses the spiritual, educational and economic needs of families in the low-income neighborhood where they’re based.
As a CALM intern for eight weeks, Sas was responsible for helping elementary and middle school-aged boys with computer programs and tutoring students in math and reading. In the afternoons, he assisted young men who were working on projects to revitalize the community, such as picking up trash and fixing up old buildings. In the evenings, Sas initiated Bible studies with some of the younger boys.
Sas says that being part of this ministry changed the way he looks at people who are poor. “My awareness of the importance of God’s call for us to take care of the poor has grown. I like helping people.”
In addition to covering his summer travel, lodging and food expenses, the fellowship also provided Sas a grant to apply to his college tuition. Sas and the other fellows will receive an award for their participation in the program, along with their final paychecks, at the annual Christian Community Development Association conference, to be held Nov. 16–20 in Indianapolis.
On campus, Sas has coordinated the prison ministry team for two years, serves as a tutor in accounting and marketing, and participates in intramural athletics.