While some students worked on their tans this spring break, others worked through the chilly Michigan weather, serving the Hillsdale community.
For a fourth year, a group of students organized a week-long mission trip to share the gospel and serve the community in Hillsdale. About 35 people volunteered with various community organization as well as cleaned up neighborhoods in Flint, Michigan.
Senior Kathryn Lewis, who started the annual trip with Shelley Peters ’15, said the mission trip has two goals.
“The first is to spread the gospel in the Hillsdale community by meeting relational, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs,” Lewis said in an email. “The second is for real and rich discipleship to happen in the lives of college students participating.”
The group spent Saturday in Flint, helping clean up different neighborhoods and areas. It spent the rest of the week in Hillsdale. Volunteers helped A Few Good Men with manual labor projects for Hillsdale residents, spent time with children at the Community Action Agency preschool, distributed food at Salvation Army, and visited people at Hillsdale Hospital. They also held a lunch on Tuesday for the custodial, maintenance, Bon Appètit Management Co., and security staff, to thank them for their work.
For some students, staying to serve in Hillsdale was a way to refresh and connect with others, they said.
“It’s actually really restful, because at school, there is a lot of focus on yourself, and your grades, and achieving,” said junior Emily Barnum, who went on the trip for the third time this year, “Getting the focus off yourself and toward others is really grounding, and it can actually be really encouraging.”
Junior Summer Burkholder, who helped plan the trip, said she enjoyed working with students with a passion for service.
“I enjoyed meeting students who care about the Hillsdale community and are aware of the city we inhabit during our college years,” Burkholder said.
The trip is also a time for spiritual rejuvenation, participants said. During the week, the group did devotionals and held times for worship, and speakers spoke on the devotional topics.
“We deeply desire to see tangible growth in our own walks with the Lord, and this almost always happens when you are surrounded by the Christian community and walking in the way of the cross through emptying yourself just as Jesus emptied himself,” Lewis said.
Although the mission trip focuses on Christianity, it is open to all students, Lewis said.
“This is something that I am so passionate about,” she said. “I really believe that the mission trip can change lives and the community in amazing and tangible ways.”