George Fox sends students on annual summer service trips

Teams of George Fox University students, staff and alumni will spend three to four weeks of their spring and summer serving others abroad as part of the university’s Summer Serve program.

Three trips in May and one in June will challenge volunteers in what the school’s Office of Spiritual Life describes as “heavily exposure-based and discipleship-oriented” trips. Teams will visit China, Nicaragua and Swaziland in May, and Romania and Moldova in June.

“We don’t seek to engage in these serve trips simply as ‘work projects to solve poverty’ as much as we are seeking to experience Christ through cultural immersion, partnerships, volunteerism alongside local hosts, and mutual spiritual transformation opportunities for our student ‘pilgrims,’ the reputable Christian organizations we work alongside, and the local hosts,” said Rusty St. Cyr, the university’s associate pastor of ministry and service.

Following are summaries of the four planned trips. Thanks to Tyler Rhys Robertson ('12) and Jimmy Brown ('12) for providing the video, music and graphics.


China

Students on this trip will experience playing, working, traveling, and learning alongside some of China’s young adults and university students. They will get to see what Christian ministry in a “limited access” country is like firsthand and get a glimpse of life for university students in China. The trip’s focus will be on “listening for the purpose of better understanding our international neighbors,” St. Cyr said.


Nicaragua

This Summer Serve trip is meant to inspire students to combine their faith in God with their academic studies to serve and learn from at-risk girls rescued from a life of poverty on the city dump. Students will work in collaboration with staff of Forward Edge International (FEI) and stay for two weeks at the Villa Esperanza (“village of hope”), a facility that provides poor children with a safe and sanitary place to grow, learn and meet Christ.

As part of the trip, students will be challenged academically in the area of psychology, as they will examine the impact of poverty and of the ministry on the girls’ well-being and spiritual growth.


Swaziland

On this trip, students will assist an “Adventures In Mission” local team to serve those left behind by the AIDS pandemic. Volunteers will get to help in bringing lifesaving nutrition to hundreds of orphans as they serve meals at local care points. They’ll also get the exposure of visiting the homes of the poor and dying, listening to their stories and encouraging them with the grace and acceptance that they can find in Christ.

Swaziland, a nation tucked in between South Africa and Mozambique, has been ravaged by AIDS. With the highest rate of AIDS infection in the world, the disease has affected virtually every family in the country.


Romania and Moldova

Romania & Moldova are searching for a new identity amidst dramatic change from communism to capitalism. The countries suffer economic displacement, the AIDS epidemic, and ethnic struggles. On this journey, students will team with Word Made Flesh – an organization group leaders Clint Baldwin and Sarah Baldwin have walked alongside for 20 years – in serving at-risk children and poor families.

As part of the experience, the group will visit, learn about and engage with a youth summer camp experience; ongoing village-work; educational programs at a community center; microfinance community empowerment efforts; places and forms of faith practice; and historically important socio-cultural country sites.

Summer Serve Program

Now in its 20th year, the George Fox Summer Serve program allows students to spend about a month in volunteer service in cross-cultural settings. Previous trips have gone to Swaziland, Peru, Thailand, Ukraine, Brazil, India, Cuba, Jamaica, Romania and the Philippines.

Students are selected through an application process, and each traveler fundraises his or her own way. Part of the fundraising includes garage sales, auctions, raffles, car washes and charity dinners. To learn more about the program or donate to this year’s trip, contact St. Cyr at 503-554-2319.

George Fox also sponsors weeklong service trips during Christmas break and spring break.

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