This past summer, 21 Northwestern students spent four-to-ten weeks on short-term missionary projects through Summer of Service program, or SOS. These students raise money themselves for things like transportation and room and board through donations.
Students spent their summers in places from Mississippi, to Costa Rica, India to Kyrgyzstan. They helped in schools, orphanages, refugee camps, hospitals, and more.
Mica Graves, a senior psychology major, went with Jenna Beeson and Taylor Studer to Athens, Greece with international teams to work at a refugee center. The girls worked with Middle Eastern refugees (mostly from Afghanistan) in a variety of daily ministries, included making meals, playing games and serving tea to the whole camp in order to build relationships.
“I did not expect to have a heart for refugees when I came home, and now I look at life a lot differently,” Graves said.
Wednesdays were Grave’s favorite day of the week because the group met with women in the afternoons while making meals together. The girls experienced the relational aspect of the ministry every day.
“I learned how to love others that I cannot communicate with, and what it means to truly welcome people in,” Graves said.
A senior biology secondary education major at NW, John Doe has always been interested in going abroad as a missionary after college, so traveling to Naryn, Kyrgyzstan was a great opportunity. His trip was coordinated by Pioneers, an organization whose focus is bringing the love of God to unreached people groups.
It is not illegal to be a Chrisitan in Naryn, but it is illegal to evangelize. Doe worked on projects with the long-term missionaries stationed in the town.
He helped build a women’s shelter for those escaping from abusive homes, and he helped coach a children’s baseball camp that focused on loving ignored children and building relationships with their parents.
“I learned that God uses unqualified people to do amazing work,” Doe said. During his stay in Naryn he lived with a Muslim host family of nine that spoke little English. Despite that fact, they grew very close and even called Doe their “American son.”
“I feel a lot more personal call from God to spread his word to all nations,” Doe said. “Especially now that I personally know people, and my host family, who aren’t saved. This is conformation of hearing God’s call to do missionary work.”
As a future teacher, Rachelle Cole has a passion for children, and she decided to take that passion to Haiti this summer. Cole worked with Children of the Promise, an organization that supports children physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually through their orphanage and nursing center.
“Haiti is something God placed in my heart,” Cole said. “I had a different plan to stay in the U.S., but all the doors kept closing as the door to Haiti stayed open,” Cole said.
As a volunteer, she taught preschool in the morning and homeschooled four international students in the afternoon. In her spare time, she played with children and babies in the orphanage.
“I saw God in that he gave me the patience, tender heartedness and love for the preschoolers, even when they got out of hand,” Cole said. The main focus she had in preschool was behavior management, because many of the kids had many issues due to neglect.
“God gives fruitfully when you surrender. And when you do, he will show you in ways you can’t fathom,” Cole said.
For 33 years, NW has been sending students across the U.S. and the world to shine God’s light. They work to partner with organizations like Rahab’s Rope, International Teams, Luke Society, Pioneers and many more to provide NW students with opportunities to be missionaries across the globe.