With today’s return of the Vietnam SPRINT team and the departure of the Brazil team, we’re pretty close to SPRINT’s halfway point this summer. (For a full list of this summer’s trips, visit the SPRINT webpage).
I know you’re primarily interested in reports from teams’ trips, so I’ll keep this post brief. Quickly, though, I wanted to offer some background information on the SPRINT program and our goals for all of this international travel, learning and service you’ll read about on these pages.
University-sponsored short-term missions at Seattle Pacific University date back to the early 1960s; participants in Operation Outreach, later renamed Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational, have volunteered in countries around the world for many years. Serving in teams alongside in-country local leadership, the objective of SPRINT trips has always been to provide needed help, a witness to the Gospel and important learning opportunities for college students.
Today SPRINT is advised and supported by SPU’s John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development. Perkins Center staff (that’s me) and student leaders partner to recruit, train and send the SPRINT teams you’re reading about this summer.
It’s important for us to engage students with effective, sustainable, community-developing work that promotes long-term transformation rather than the negative, dependency-creating outcomes sometimes associated with short-term missions. To that end, our pre-trip training and host-partner selection focus on a set of values outlined by the Christian Community Development Association, emphasizing local leadership development, empowerment and reconciliation that bridges both social and spiritual gaps. Our hope is that students will learn from effective community engagement models and apply these lessons to their future work, wherever God leads them.
Another key aspect of the SPRINT process is our emphasis on post-trip reflection and application. Neat experiences, great photos and fun stories about new foods do not equal life transformation. However, when students are intentional in reflecting on their experiences, learning take-aways and challenges of the trip they’re more likely to discover God at work throughout the trip experience and beyond.
To encourage the reflection process we’ll send each student a copy of the Global Citizen Journal, published by the Krista Foundation for Global Service as he or she returns home. The journal highlights the importance of incorporating service and mission experiences into one’s life through reflection and application. You might find this sample article interesting: In “Staying for Tea” Aaron Ausland reflects on the importance of long-term commitment and listening to community in order to find one’s place of effectiveness as an outsider coming in.
Thanks again for your support of students as they participate in SPRINT this summer. If you’d like more information on the program, ways to give or ways to be involved, please contact me at (206) 281-2932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.