From dozens of spring break trips to long-term internships, Harding students can travel anywhere in the world to follow the charge of Mark 16:15. Specifically, mission trips targeted toward students based on their majors are increasingly being offered, allowing students to take the skills they have learned in the classroom into the field.
Ron Smith, associate professor of mathematics, has led a Global Outreach mission trip to South Africa the past three summers. Smith, along with Michael Nicodemus, associate professor of biology, and a team of students stay in a rural community outside of Johannesburg for several weeks. The group spends time in nearby schools, teaching lessons based on the schools’ needs and the group’s skill sets.
“We go over, and we teach,” Smith said. “We’ve taught math, science, personal finance, and this year, they want us to teach English.”
Though Smith said the trip is open to anyone, most of the students that have traveled to South Africa with him have had majors connected to math and science.
“A lot of them have really enjoyed it and want to do more [mission work],” Smith said. “That’s our hope — if we can convince one person to go back and do more, then we’ve been successful.”
Further north on the same continent, the Carr College of Nursing has offered opportunities for nursing students to gain hands-on experience on the mission field since 1977. Janice Bingham, clinical associate professor of nursing, and Ronda Reely, instructor in the college of nursing, take
upper-level nursing students to a clinic in Tanzania each summer. According to Bingham, the students gain valuable experience they may never obtain in the U.S.
“They see pain and suffering and poverty that they will never really see here, and I think it just kind of changes their whole worldview about … what’s really important in life,” Bingham said. “They really can be the hands and feet of Jesus in that setting.”
Reely said she has seen the focus of the trip benefit the nursing students, as they are able to use their technical skills to serve others.
“It helps them to really understand how their profession can be used in ministry,” Reely said. “I mean, they really can see that.”
Both the college of nursing and Global Outreach send teams of students to participate in mission work in Haiti. Amy Cox, associate professor of art, is the team leader for Global Outreach’s trip to Haiti each summer. The trip is tailored to engineering and interior design students who are able to use their abilities in partnership with a Haitian congregation.
“Learning an intense amount of information about a culture so deeply … it’s one of the fastest ways to get a better insight into a culture that’s not your own,” Cox said.
Cox and the student design team use human-centered design to facilitate conversations within the church about solutions to problems the congregation is facing.
“They very quickly recognize the innate ability for everyone to design solutions,” Cox said. “Creativity is a God-given thing. It’s a part of God’s identity, and it’s a part of our identity.”