Nearly 200 students, faculty and staff from Northwestern College will travel across the United States and around the world for the college’s annual Spring Service Projects (SSP) March 5 through 14.
This year, teams will serve at 15 sites that include four new ministry partners. A new international destination is the Dominican Republic, where students will work with Hope International, building the foundations for two new homes and assisting in a health clinic. New U.S. ministries are First Reformed Church in Denver; Mission Road Developmental Center in San Antonio, Texas; and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), which sends teams to areas of the U.S. suffering from natural or man-made disasters.
The team in Denver will help a historic church repair its building and reach out to a changing neighborhood. Students in San Antonio will work with children and adults with developmental disabilities. And the team serving with CRWRC will rebuild homes in Gulfport, Miss., that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to the Dominican Republic, there are two other international SSP teams. One group of students will fly to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where they will share their faith with guests at two Christian youth hostels. Another group will partner with the Moravian Church in Bluefields, Nicaragua, where they will work on a construction project, lead Bible school for children, and help at a health and feeding center.
Additional U.S. service opportunities include an after-school program and community improvement projects in Jonesboro, Ark.; home repair in Annville, Ky.; construction, tutoring and community cleanup in Opelousas, La.; and teaching English to Somalian immigrants in Minneapolis.
Still other students will spend the week assisting with a dental clinic and child education programs in Cary, Miss.; working in a free health clinic and learning about urban ministry and racial reconciliation in Jackson, Miss.; teaching school in Mendenhall, Miss.; helping at a homeless shelter in Spartanburg, S.C.; and serving with a prison ministry in Lindale, Texas.
Spring Service Project members raise their own travel funds through their individual families, friends and churches and also through fundraisers on campus and in the community.
Northwestern College’s short-term mission programs bear the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions (SOE) seal, ensuring that participating organizations get NWC mission teams that are of high quality. SOE standards include adequate pre-trip training and resources, as well as consistent post-trip follow-up and accountability.
“Spring Service Projects give students an opportunity to see God at work in the world and to serve and share their faith with others,” says Dr. Tommy Moon, Northwestern’s director of missions. “Experiences like these are an important part of spiritual formation. It’s our hope that, through them, students gain a clearer understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.”