Nearly fifty Northwestern students attended the Faith & International Development conference at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan that was held Feb. 4-6. Led by Dave Nonnemacher, the students rode on a bus through the night to attend.
The conference featured a unique group of talented speakers and activists, including Milton Amayun, Dana Bates, Ron Sider, Davis Omanyo and Leymah Gbowee, as well as representatives from a number of organizations
“The Calvin Conference furthered my passions for development,” said senior Michelle Cundy, “and it was so encouraging to be around people who care about the rest of the world and will take action to make a difference.”
Many students felt the conference was a reminder of God’s love and compassion for the poor and oppressed. “One of the main things I learned was about justice and charity: God calls us to both, yet we cannot simply be caring for people’s short-term needs nor throwing money at them for our own type of ‘good Christian’ feeling,” said junior Janelle de Waard.
“We must be compassionate and we must be about justice. The leader of our small group gave the analogy of charity and justice like feet. She said it would be the most logical to walk forward, yet so many people are hopping around.”
Freshman Jordan Vermeer echoed the thoughts of Cundy and de Waard: “The conference helped me realize where my passion is, in international development, in being on ‘ground zero’, not just giving my money to organizations.”
The opinion of most of the attendees was that it was a life changing experience, opening many eyes to issues around the world and here at home. As Cundy said, “This conference left me to ask new questions about my future and really think about what God is calling to do with my life.”
Senior Stacey Bernardo attended the conference for the second time this year. “I left the conference wanting to do more to help, even if it was simply spending less money on things that I didn’t need,” said Bernardo.
“I hope that people can begin to realize when they are buying and using more than what they need and I hope we can work on reallocating the resources of this world to make them more equal among people,” continued Bernardo. “Until this starts to happen, I believe that this problem will continue and most likely become worse.”