When the university held its 15th annual Serve Day last fall, students and employees served at 88 sites spanning four counties in Oregon. Now, thanks to 2010 graduate Rebecca Turba, that same spirit of service has made its way across the globe – all the way to South Africa.
Since 2011, Turba has been a teacher at Bridges Academy, a boarding school that serves as a safe haven for high school-aged orphans looking to escape gang violence in the townships surrounding Cape Town. She teaches art, dance, English and “life orientation” classes, and also works as the academy’s community service coordinator.
“At the school we teach that Christ gave his life for us, and so our natural response is to show his love to those living around us,” she says. But despite her best efforts to build her students’ enthusiasm for service, “nothing seemed to be working.” That’s when Turba returned to her George Fox roots. “I thought maybe I could adapt the idea of Serve Day for Bridges Academy,” she recalls. So, last summer, the academy held its first Bridges Serve Day.
“We spent the day gardening, cleaning two local churches, looking after little kids, reading to preschoolers, playing games with autistic youth and visiting the local medical clinic,” Turba says. “After the first day the students were saying, ‘When can we have this day again?’”
Bridges Serve Day was such a success that the academy now schedules a full day of service every three months. “I am so blessed to see God’s continual work at this school,” she says. “God has taken the brokenhearted, healed them, and then used them to heal others.”