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Inspired by unlikely servants

February 23, 2015

“I went because it was a graduation requirement,” admitted senior engineering major Lukas Rieke of his recent trip to Haiti with NNU On A Mission. “I needed the cross-cultural credit. My department head was going on the trip so I thought it was a good opportunity.” When he returned to campus, Lukas had gained much more than a credit toward his diploma. He had gained a passion for helping the people of Haiti.

The team was struck by the poverty and poor conditions of the country and the hardships of the staff at Hope Home, the special-needs orphanage they were serving in Port-au-Prince. But it was a particular moment that caused Lukas to feel its impact personally.

“We were doing a lot of painting,” he recalled. “We had a spill, and I was cleaning it up. Just then, a dozen kids came in after school and saw what I was doing. They all grabbed different parts of the rag I was using and started helping me clean.”

It was the quickness to help that left a mark. “It was their natural reaction to come and help,” marvelled Lukas. “They don’t seem to be aware of how much help they need; they just helped me instead. That was the tipping point for me. I didn’t want to stop helping them.”

One of the biggest challenges that Hope Home and its sister facility Rainbow House face is the lack of fresh, running water. The crude pump system they have only operates a couple of hours a day, leaving the staff with only a few gallons of water for the 80-person facilities.

Once returning to campus, the team collected donations at chapel to fund a new water pump. Their hope for the project was bouyed when they applied for—and won—a grant from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. The grant will provide $2500 toward the pump project and another $7500 to implement a global poverty awareness campaign on campus and in the Nampa community.

Dubbed “Rippleffect,” the campaign will include a 5K fundraiser, Lenten student “water challenges,” and a social media campaign. Students, faculty and staff from all departments on campus have committed to helping run the campaign, and off-campus agencies are being invited to sponsor events and participate in challenges.

Part of the campaign will focus on experiential learning, including a 40-day Lenten challenge. “We intend to use our social media accounts and on-campus advertising to announce the daily challenges, which will include limiting toilet use to three times, limiting total water to two gallons, and drinking only iodine tablet treated water,” stated the winning campaign proposal.

The students heading the campaign are each busy enough; student athletes, Student Government Association officers, and engineering and pre-med majors fill the team. But the group has become passionate enough about the project to carve time in their schedules to coordinate events and implement a marketing plan. What drives them?

“As I visited the orphanage in Haiti, I was personally struck by how much they struggle,” explained junior pre-med major and soccer player McCrea Nirider. “John 10:10 says that Christ came to bring ‘abundant life.’ And while there can be abundant life in poverty, it can be so much harder when you’re struggling for the basic necessities of life.”

The team is quick to realize that their impact will be small in view of the global needs of poverty relief and clean water availability. But they were encouraged by their host in Haiti not to let the scope of the problem overwhelm or paralyze them. They adopted the motto which has become the tag line for their campaign, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”

To follow the Rippleffect campaign, watch for student comments on twitter with hashtags #rippleffect or #WaterChallenge2015, or find them on Facebook at facebook.com/nnudoforone.

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