Local Service, Large Impact
By Hailey Bryant, Journalist Intern on 3/14/2014
It’s no secret that Lipscomb sends out numerous international mission teams throughout the year. But, many people may not be aware of exactly how close to home these teams can serve. For the last several years, teams of students have spent their spring breaks serving our own community, gaining awareness about the need in our own backyards.
Lipscomb’s SALT Program Coordinator Cara Harris led the team last year and will continue to provide that leadership this year as well. In past years, the team worked with several organizations throughout the week, but this year will be different, Harris says. “There is more structure this year, more of a focus,” she explains. Instead of visiting the usual plethora of organizations, the team will devote the entire week to serving World Relief, a local refugee resettlement organization. A non-profit that gives refugees the tools and guidance they need to prosper in their new American homes, World Relief quietly does great things for our community as they assist between 400-600 refugees a year.
“Over the past decade Nashville has become extremely culturally and ethnically diverse as people from over 110 countries now call our city home,” says Mark Jent, Director of Missions Outreach. “With over 95 languages spoken, we no longer have to go out into the world per say, the world has come to us. It’s a great opportunity for ministry to serve those who are seeking a fresh start.”
Spring Break Nashville is quite different from the others for several reasons. Not only does the team help people who call Nashville their new home, but they also have the opportunity to continue their service long after the week of spring break comes to an end. In fact, this year’s team has been using weekly team meetings to design their lesson plans and teaching materials that they will use in a four-week orientation process at the organization. “The book that we are making is something that World Relief can continue to use,” Harris says, “The students commitment to this year’s effort is far different than before. No longer are they just serving the five days of spring break, but they are pouring energy into the refugees in the weeks immediately preceding and following spring break.”
Last year’s trip had somewhat of a focus on the refugee population as well. Sophomore Ezra Fritz served on the team and learned the importance of serving in his own city, something about which he was initially curious. “I was amazed by the amount of work that is being done in our city without much support,” Fritz explains. One of the organizations he got to assist was Nashville Food Project, a program that delivers meals to those who would otherwise go hungry. Fritz shares his amazement at what the organization is doing, saying, “I was impressed with the number of meals that they can turn out just from the “extra” food that they get from restaurants and grocery stores.” Through his experiences during the week with various Nashville service projects, Fritz broadened his sense of what kind of need exists in his own backyard.
This year’s Spring Break Nashville effort is sure to be a meaningful experience as the new team works together to serve refugees with World Relief. Harris looks forward to leading a group to experiences with a number of different cultures and backgrounds, enriching their service understanding along the way. “My hope is that the students would continue to serve after the trip is over and develop some meaningful relationships right here in the city,” shares team leader Harris. One does not need to show their passport, purchase an airline ticket or even raise that much money in order to serve the world that has come to us right here in Nashville. All that is needed is a willingness to be present, to be engaging while teaching and to possess a willingness to serve our neighbors who now call our city home.