The Agape Center for Service and Learning - International Missions Program
Committed to Messiah's mission of "educating men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation," the Agape Center's Service and Missions Program seeks to involve students in cross-cultural service and ministry experiences with the hope that participants will gain a deeper sense of self and an awareness of God and His work in the world.
Our Partnership with Food for the Hungry in Nicaragua
Service cannot and should not be done alone. The Agape Center believes deeply in developing and maintaining long-term, reciprocal partnerships in local, national and international contexts. We feel very strongly that we come alongside our in-country partner(s) in order to assist in the ongoing, community work.
Building on the work we have done over the last two years, the Agape Center will again be partnering with Food for the Hungry (FH) in Dulce Nombre de Jesus, Nicaragua. FH is a Christian organization, which seeks to end all forms of human poverty. They are moved and inspired by a Christian belief that every person has intrinsic value and it is our responsibility to advocate for the poor and marginalized, without regard to race, creed or nationality.
FH has a country-specific mission to improve the overall education system in Nicaragua; therefore, our 2018 team will look to achieve this by:
- Developing and delivering educational programs to Nicaraguan youth
- Assisting FH in building projects to create safe space for the community school. (Note: Our 2017 team assisted in building a school cafeteria to provide the children with a place to eat.)
How you can help
Because we believe that our international service-learning opportunities should be available to all students at Messiah College, no matter one's socioeconomic background, we have committed to a group fundraising model. By donating to our project, you are helping a student at Messiah College participate in a unique, experiential learning opportunity where they can put their faith in action. You won't only be making an impact in a student's life, but you will also be impacting a child in the community of Dulce Nombre de Jesus, Nicaragua.
Service-Learning: Faith in action
At Messiah College, we want to challenge students to not only serve out of "love and grace," but to also reflect and think critically on the service experience in order to gain a mature sense of self. Through service, we hope that students will understand, value and appreciate human differences, which leads to greater cultural competency. We believe that one of the most effective ways to provide opportunities of identity development, faith formation, leadership and cultural competence is through a service-learning model.
In the service-learning model, students participate in an authentic service activity, which meets the goals identified by the community (designed within the framework of a mutually beneficial relationship), and critically reflect on that activity. As a result of their service experience, students develop a deeper understanding of social injustice and commitment to becoming a socially responsible citizen.
Service-learning offers a tangible, hands-on opportunity to put their faith in action.
What are our students saying?
"Our week in Nicaragua was AMAZING. Absolutely fantastic. An experience that I will never forget and a trip that I already want to go on again. Throughout the week, we helped construct a cafeteria for the kids to have a place to eat besides their classrooms, but we spent just as much time (if not more!) playing with and loving on those precious, precious children! We also got to talk with some of the community leaders and have great discussions about God, the community, and everyday life with viewpoints from both Nicaraguan and American culture. Our team also had two opportunities to go into homes of people in the community, as small groups, to get to know the families and to pray for them. God's hand was just so evident throughout the week. In the small things: the children's laughter as we chased them around, the bright sunshine, the daily Bible studies we participated in with the Food for the Hungry (FH) staff each morning. And in the big things: none of us getting sick from the water or the heat, our safety over the whole trip, the daily thunderstorms not happening until after we left the village for the day. This trip also opened my mind to the possibility of teaching English overseas in a Spanish-speaking country. And even if I don't do that, I was able to see how important my decision to be a teacher is and how helpful my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor can be, as well as my knowledge of the Spanish language." (Kerianne Darragh, Reflections from 2017)
"Service trips have been a great way to use my time, energy and gifts for the purpose of sharing God's love with others and ultimately to glorify Him. Service brings me to a humble place and opens my eyes to see how others, whose experience is different than mine, are living. Service trips help you to reflect more on the world, how you make decisions, your character and faith, and your interactions with others." (Maddie Groff, Class of 2019)
Follow our story
We'll be sure to keep you updated along the way -- sharing highlights from team trainings, as we prepare for trip departure, and then as often as possible when we are in-country. Upon returning, we would love for you to check out our student reflections on the blog .
Help us succeed!
You don't need to give financially to help us succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us -- on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog.
In fact, share it with everyone you know as we believe we're doing important work, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to have the greatest impact we can on Messiah College students and the community of Dulce Nombre de Jesus, Nicaragua.
Even though you don't need to give financially to help us, we'd love it if you did! If you believe in the work Messiah College and the Agape Center are doing, please sponsor us and help make this trip happen.
Thanks for your support!