Covenant Students, Faculty, and Staff Travel the Globe for Break on Impact
During spring break of 2009, Covenant College students, faculty, and staff traveled all over the globe as part of Covenant's Break on Impact program. This year, teams went to five locations: Brussels, Belgium; Madrid, Spain; Athens, Greece; Guanajuato, Mexico; and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina.
The Break on Impact program began over a decade ago as an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in situations where the focus is on serving others and on sharing the love of Christ.
Sixteen students, along with Professor Sandy Shaw and Christiana Fitzpatrick, special programs & mentoring coordinator, traveled to Belgium. The team stayed at Operation Mobilization's headquarters in Zaventem, a Flemish-speaking suburb of Brussels, and cleaned, painted, and did yard work. They also interacted with the missionaries and pastors in Brussels and learned about the challenges of intercultural ministry.
As the team explored a new culture, they not only enjoyed the Belgian waffles, fries, and chocolates, but also worshiped at a Flemish-speaking church and at a Turkish/Bulgarian-speaking church. "I was especially moved during the Turkish worship service when we all joined hands in a big circle and prayed together simultaneously in Turkish, Bulgarian, and English," said Shaw. "There was a wonderful sense of offering our multilingual prayers up to God with the same faith in Christ!"
The trip to Madrid, led by staff members Jason Lehn and Devin Wilkins, focused on relational ministry with Spanish university students. While most of the city is Roman Catholic, students in Madrid are often a secular, hard-to-reach group. Covenant student Erika Loftsgard '11 said of the ministry, "It struck me how spiritually dark the country of Spain is. It really is an impossible task to reach the people without the grace of God." In this difficult climate, the team evangelized on the campus and connected Spanish students with the ministry of the organization Mission to the World (MTW) in Madrid.
Along with exploring the city, much of the trip was spent learning from the local missionaries. "One of the most rewarding things about the trip was seeing the MTW missionaries in action," said Assistant Resident Director Devin Wilkins. "We gleaned something from them on a daily basis."
The team to Greece, led by Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) Campus Minister Ron Brown and Director of Student Life Julie Moore, served alongside a local church in Athens. Working with a program called Grace Anatomy, they focused primarily on reaching out to university students by carrying out surveys and striking up conversations.
The team was able to encourage the small group of believers there. As Brown remembers, "The Christian leaders in Athens said this was one of the most significant things we did while we were there-being an encouragement to the Greek Christian students."
"I could not have asked or imagined that our team would get along so well and form deep bonds even with those they didn't know before the trip," said Moore.
In their free time, the group went sightseeing, rented mopeds on a Greek isle, and even jumped in the Aegean Sea. "This was a fun group filled with interesting characters that always kept us laughing," said Brown.
Guanajuato is located in the mountains of central Mexico. MTW has partnered with local Mexican pastors and is seeking to transform a small camp facility into a place where the local community, as well as missionaries, can safely gather to encounter God and fellowship with one another.
This Break on Impact team, led by the Chalmers Center's Curriculum Project Manager Mark Bowers and Professor Diana Cochran, helped to rehabilitate the existing facilities and hosted events for the local children.
The ministry there is new and challenging. "We were the first team to even attempt a Vacation Bible School with the village children," said Bowers. "At first, no kids showed up for our VBS-we had to go into the village and get them," said Cochran. But once VBS began, "one of the most rewarding things about the trip was the obedience and willingness of the kids to interact with us and to participate."
Cherokee Indian Reservation
This Break on Impact team traveled to the Qualla Boundary, also known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. They ministered to Cherokee youth through backyard Bible clubs, tutoring, and sports ministry, as well as helped make repairs at the camp facility that serves as the base of the ministry on the reservation. The team sought to show the love of Christ and to build relationships with the Cherokee people.