Discipleship and Service
Discipleship and service are two words that we use a lot as Christians. The Center for Faith and Practice (CFP) at Geneva College exists to help students think about and participate in programs, service opportunities, conversations and small groups that explore these words more in depth.
I completed my undergraduate work at a small liberal arts Christian college near Portland, Oregon. Upon graduation, I had the unique opportunity to serve at an orphanage in a small town in Guatemala. As a fresh college graduate, I was ready to go into the orphanage with passion to love, serve and change the broken things I encountered there. I understood from the things I learned in college that God’s Word called me to not only know Christ more, but that as I studied scripture, there should be an outpouring of service and love for others.
My experience in Guatemala has shaped the work that I do today in significant ways. As I encountered poverty and brokenness firsthand, I began to realize the urgency and need for people to extend a hand in mercy and care. But in the midst of my months in Guatemala, I also recognized that some of my best intentions to come in and change things were not always the most helpful. As I began to see how the young girls in the orphanage struggled when teams of Americans came and went, attaching themselves to the young girls and then abandoning them, the work of those of us who were left behind was difficult as we continued to console and comfort girls who had been abandoned, and were abandoned over and over again.
Through this, I began to see the complexities of what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ and to enter into different places with a heart to serve. Good intentions were not enough. What many of the girls needed were faithful and consistent people to commit to their care over a long period of time. Even though I thought I would be the one coming in to save the day, I realized how inadequate I was in understanding a new culture, changing a broken system or serving.
My work in the CFP is impacted by this experience because it helps me engage students in conversations about service and discipleship in unique ways. First of all, it is a clear call that we are not the ones who are doing the work, but it is through Christ in us that we are able to love and serve. Second, the way that we should serve the people around us is to be people who are quick to listen and learn from the places we encounter, and that we should be marked by humility as we consider what it means to engage in the larger community around us.
The CFP takes seriously a call for students to understand what God’s Word teaches them about living faithfully as students, understanding the gospel’s implications in all areas of our lives and looking at what it means to serve others, whether that be a roommate, classmate, Beaver Falls resident or someone from another city.
We utilize student leaders in our office to facilitate much that we do around the topics of discipleship and service. Discipleship Coordinators are residentially based students who coordinate Bible studies, small groups, service opportunities and are a listening ear to students as they continue to grow in their faith. Students in Service interns work closely with partners in the community to help students learn how to love our neighbors well and to serve in different capacities. Quest Coordinators are students who help plan several spring break mission trips that are based around cultural immersion, education and service.
Our hope as an office is that students would catch a glimpse of what it means to live faithfully as followers of Christ.
If you want to find out more, visit our website: www.geneva.edu/cfp .
November 14 - Dr David Thompson ’69, medical doctor and missionary
"We created a safe place for the kids to come in the summer. We would do anything from teaching them to read to taking them on fieldtrips."
-Ishea Jennings, human services major
Read Ishea's Profile
To read the article "Worth the Price: The True Value of a Christian College Education" with a message by Geneva's president, Dr. Ken Smith, click here.
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Beaver Falls, PA 15010