Just a few weeks left in the semester, a milestone that brings anticipation and anxiety to students and faculty. Presentations, papers, and final exams are knocking at the dorm room door and most students could use an extra day to catch up or just catch a breath. But students and faculty at Northwestern are taking a different kind of break.
The Week of Prayer and Service included special prayer events, times of music and worship, and a day dedicated to serving the community. On that day, the university canceled classes so students and faculty could serve with non-profits around Minneapolis and St. Paul. This year, about 400 students and faculty got involved in the volunteer activities with more joining in various prayer and worship events on campus.
“Jeff Snyder consistently does a great job with maintaining both the heart and logistical aspects of connecting UNW volunteers with community partners on service project day,” said Nina Barnes, vice president of student life. “Justin Jeppesen creatively expanded campus-wide prayer opportunities, and Jenna Thompson secured a featured chapel speaker, Nathan Foster, to bring an emphasis on spiritual practices – like prayer and serving – being integral to a transforming life in God that expresses the fruit of God’s Spirit.”
During the day of service, students and faculty could choose from over 20 volunteer organizations around the metro area. These organizations covered a broad range of causes, from literacy in developing countries, to local community gardens.
“Volunteers love the opportunity to serve with their friends and colleagues, and are enriched by seeing God at work in our city,” said Jeff Snyder, Associate Dean of Student Life, who coordinated the service projects. “Our community partners do so many amazing things in our city, and we are blessed to see their work, and join them for a day….Many have come to depend on the services we provide each year.”
The timing of the event near the end of the school year seems either crazy or perfect, depending on your point of view. Sure every student (and faculty member) could certainly use a day off from classes to prepare for final projects and exams. However this time of year is also a perfect reminder that, even in the business of life, loving people is the top priority.
“I think it’s really refreshing the school cares about us and about our faith walk in that area.” Said Alysha Grosz, senior marketing student. “I absolutely love it and am always excited when that day comes around.”
The thing to remember it that service is a lifestyle, not just an event. We can show love to God and people in big and little ways. Maybe you are working at in an established ministry, being good roommates, or even just studying. That’s what it is talking about in Colossians 3:17 when it says,
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”