Over spring break, 84 Wheaton College students chose to spend their week serving and learning on the BreakAway program, the Office of Christian Outreach’s spring ministry.
These students split into nine teams, each of which were led by faculty, staff and graduate students. Each group served with different ministry partners in different cities and in different areas of ministry. One team, for example, shadowed surgeons, while another supported mentally ill adults and a third renovated homes. Junior Dana Henderson, chair of the BreakAway Ministry’s student cabinet, explained that the cabinet strives to give each team the freedom to “be their own thing.”
The BreakAway Ministry does, however, develop some common goals for each year. After days of prayer, the BreakAway cabinet chose Micah 6:8 as the theme verse for 2016: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Henderson expressed her desire for each group to follow the verse’s dictate and serve others from a place of humility and willingness to learn. Wanting to promote a “posture of service,” the cabinet avoided attitudes of expecting to fix the lives of the people each group would meet. Henderson recognized that Wheaton students can learn deep and valuable lessons from people of different races, socio-economic classes and religions that they encounter through BreakAway.
Students who traveled with BreakAway this year are already telling stories of how their service impacted them. Junior Joseph Tam, who worked with the BreakAway group in Chicago, found himself on the train next to a man reading the book of Acts. By the time the train ride ended, the man had told Tam his testimony and given him a tract. Tam realized that “it’s important to have the gospel preached to you wherever you are.”
For junior Sarah Modolo, the hospitality and encouragement she found in a church on the south side of Chicago shattered some of her preconceptions. “I saw stereotypes and generalized negative narratives crumble before my eyes,” she explained. “It was a very humanizing experience that reminded me I have a lot to learn.”
Henderson believes that by serving with an attitude of humility, BreakAway students have learned to see others as part of God’s family while building lasting relationships both with those they serve and their fellow students.
As Ray Chang, the ministry associate for discipleship, reflected on his time as a group leader, he summed up this year’s BreakAway experience. “The most clear way God worked was in the relationships between us and those we serve,” he said. “In fact, in many ways, if felt like we were the ones being served.”