About 400 Hope College students will spend their spring break on mission projects around the world.
This year, 28 trips are planned with destinations across the United States as well as in Central and South America. The college's spring break runs Friday-Sunday, March 12-21.
More than 330 students will participate in 24 mission trips organized by the college's Campus Ministries Office. In addition, more than 50 students total will be traveling with Habitat for Humanity to Valdosta, Ga., with associate professor of kinesiology Dr. Steven Smith to Jamaica, with professor of economics Dr. Robin Klay to Mexico and with the varsity cross country team to Ann Arbor.
The mission trips are a decades-long tradition at Hope, but interest has exploded in the past 10 years. The Campus Ministries Office organized seven trips 10 years ago, compared to this year's 24 trips.
The Campus Ministries trips will involve a variety of settings, including urban and rural ministry within the United States, and service in South and Central America.
In East Palo Alto, Calif., students will be working with Bayshore Christian Ministries, a year-round ministries program to help at-risk children. Students with the Gateway City Center in Hollywood, Calif., will minister to people in the city through evangelism and providing for food and clothing needs. Sacred Dancers in Los Angeles, Calif., will reach out to residents through dance with Mosaic, an area church.
In Hazel Green, Ky., students will work with Impact Missions to connect with the community through participating in work projects. Psalm 23 Camp in Gap Mills, W.Va., welcomes students to help with repairs at the camp and throughout the community. Participants working with McClure River Valley Community Development in Clincho, Va., will offer home improvement assistance to area residents.
In Walker, Ky., students will work with the Lend-A-Hand Center to help with local farming. Sunshine Ministries in Loysville, Pa., allows students to help in the day-to-day operations of a rehabilitation center for recovering substance abuse victims. Apache, Okla., and the Apache Reformed Church will host students as they work with Native Americans of all ages.Students heading to Newark, N.J., will work with World Impact, an inner city ministry, to tutor children and offer some retail training to residents. The New Life Fellowship in Queens, N.Y., offers students a chance to participate in urban ministry through a diverse church. Students working with Christ Community Church in Pompano Beach, Fla., will practice evangelism in the community.With Service Over Self in Memphis, Tenn., students will provide improvement assistance to homeowners in the inner-city community. In Philadelphia, Pa., students will team up with the Center for Student Missions to volunteer in food and clothing pantries as well as with after-school programs for at-risk children. Similarly, students in Washington, D.C., will partner with the Center for Student Missions to work in shelters and soup kitchens.
A group of students will also serve in Holland, reaching out to area residents through local organizations and individual efforts.
Eight groups of Hope students will travel to Central and South America through the Campus Ministries program this year. Students heading to the Dominican Republic will partner with the World-Wide Christian Schools HANDS Team to build and repair schools for the country's children. Young Life leaders from Hope will also go to the Dominican Republic, to lend a hand with work projects and worship. Students going to Honduras will live with Garifuna families while learning about Bible translation through Wycliffe Bible Translators. Other students will connect with the residents of four villages in Chiapas, Mexico. Students headed to Tijuana, Mexico, will team up with La Rocca, a program designed to help the city's poor. Students traveling to Jamaica will work with the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf to lend a hand in various construction projects for the organization's village. A trip to Nicaragua will allow pre-medical and nursing students a chance to help by making home visits to give immunizations to the poor and to teach them about proper nutrition for their families. Similarly, pre-medical and nursing students in Bolivia will have the opportunity of meeting basic health needs for the urban homeless, rural poor and children in orphanages.
The group of students with Hope's chapter of Habitat for Humanity will travel to Valdosta, Ga., to work through Habitat for Humanity International's "Collegiate Challenge" program in building houses with other college students from around the country. For the eighth straight year, a group of Hope students with Smith will be working on the school campus of the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Students with Klay will travel to Puerto Escondido, Mexico, to assist in an effort to build housing for families. Members of the cross country team will work for a food kitchen and homeless shelter in Ann Arbor.