For most students, spring break is always a time for adventure. For many King students, this is a time to give back, a time of stewardship. During spring break 2013, 34 students took part in mission trips to Brooklyn, N.Y., Camden, N.J., Bunnell, Fla., and Copán Ruinas, Honduras.
The concept of global citizenship is interwoven throughout all aspects of the educational experience at King University. Students are taught to recognize themselves as a part of a larger community so they may have an awareness of how their choices impact others not only locally, but regionally, nationally, and internationally. Students are provided with a multitude of service opportunities, including mission experiences.
“One of the things we hope our students grasp on our mission experiences is that no matter what their particular skills and abilities may be, God has gifted them in order to serve others,” said the Rev. Dr. Fred Foy Strang, Chaplain, professor of Missions and Bible & Religion, and dean of the Peeke School of Christian Mission for King University. “They have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others. Connecting the heads and hearts of our students with their hands and feet in Christian service is a life changing experience for many participants.”
Chris Toomey, head women's vollyeball coach, along with Greg King, assistant vice president of enrollment management, took a team of 13 students to Brooklyn, N.Y., during spring break to work with CAMBA, a non-profit agency that provides services that connect people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life.
CAMBA is based in Brooklyn and serves more than 30,000 individuals each year. Services are offered in nine program areas that meet the diverse and changing needs of the agency’s clients.
Students stayed in Manhattan while serving at several of CAMBA’s work locations. Students were exposed to inner city life in one of the biggest cities in the world. They navigated the metro system from Brooklyn, to Manhattan, to Queens, and to the Bronx. In addition to their service, students visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, Empire State Building, Time Square, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and other culturally significant landmarks. In their daily work, they were exposed to issues of race and diversity while living in Brooklyn and exploring a variety of other famous neighborhoods of New York City.
While working with CAMBA, students stocked shelves, posted flyers, assisted with a food drive, and with feeding almost 300 participants. Students spent time volunteering at Park Slope Women’s Shelter where they made new case files and worked with over 130 case files, facilitated Bingo, played board games and organized other therapeutic activities, organized beads by color and size, organized prizes for the residents, attended a guest speaker presentation, organized a storage closet, and facilitated art time. Students who volunteered with the respite bed laundry assignment separated, washed, dried, folded and moved tons (literally over 2.5 tons) of laundry, moved 50 mattresses, and cleaned the bottom floor of the shelter. For the School of Democracy and Leadership, students organized the CAMBA office at the school, conducted workshops with students about college, mentored in the after school program, and helped set up a presentation for students, parents, and faculty. Students also provided assistance with the REACH program and small business services where they completed office tasks. They also attended ingenuity training.
Twelve King students along with Dan Kreiss, assistant professor of Youth Ministry, and staff member Emily Loudon, director of Student Life, volunteered with UrbanPromise, a Christian-based outreach to children and teens in Camden, N.J., whose mission is “to equip Camden's children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership.”
The King University team worked the first half of the week on “Math Dare,” a day where all after school camps come together and compete against each other to complete a math problem the fastest. After students successfully answer a math problem, they compete in a physical challenge against other members of the camps. King students worked to brainstorm, create, and test these challenges as well as provided direction of the events. During the second half of the week the group provided labor for tasks consisting of ripping floors up in a house that was being reconditioned, picking trash up, cleaning windows, and sorting through classroom supplies. The group also spent afternoons throughout week at various locations around the city with the after school programs for children ranging in age from first grade through seventh grade.
Reid Yoder, a junior Business major at King who participated in the trip said, “I wasn’t sure about going on my first mission trip, but I kept an open mind. In doing so, I changed my outlook regarding poverty, missions, and helping others less fortune than myself. I definitely will be going back again!”
King’s Charnele Luster, area coordinator for Parks and Hyde Halls and coordinator of student activities, and Brandon Hulsey, student support specialist, along with eight King students travelled to Bunnell, Fla., to work on a Habitat for Humanity house. The group stayed at a local church while in Florida.
“I was especially proud that all the students were females and were willing to help in construction,” said Hulsey. “We worked for a single parent of two children. She was tremendously gracious; she also helped in the construction of her own home.”
King students worked alongside students from several other organizations. Site supervisors served as excellent instructors teaching the students everything from the basics of construction to more advanced techniques. Those who had prior knowledge learned new building skills as well. Although the work was challenging and the temperatures were significantly warmer than that of East Tennessee in March, site supervisors praised the King students for their excellent work.
There were two days of fun and friendship where students learned about each other’s cultures. The students cooked traditional meals from their culture.
Copán Ruinas, Honduras
King University has had a long standing relationship with the ministry of UrbanPromise in Camden, N.J. In addition to the New Jersey ministry, UrbanPromise also has international mission opportunities. Prior to graduation in May, King senior Maggie Rust went on a fact-finding mission to UrbanPromise’s site in Copán Ruinas, Honduras.
UPH includes multiple camp sites which serve as afterschool programs for children ages 6 to 12. The kids come to receive help with homework, a lesson in English and Bible, snack, and a chance to play in a safe environment. The youth of Copán, middle school and high school students who have graduated from the program, help staff the camps as mentors to the younger students.
For information on ministry service opportunities at King, contact the Rev. Dr. Fred Foy Strang at 423-652-4157.