Briercrest and Compassion team up for college course in Peru

Posted: March 24, 2014

Compassion Canada and Briercrest College and Seminary are partnering together to offer students a chance to make a difference in the lives of Peruvian children.

On April 22, 2014 Briercrest students will board a plane to Peru where they will spend 10 days working with various Compassion ministries.

“It is an opportunity for students to see Compassion’s work first-hand and deepen their understanding of poverty and development, while examining  the role of church in caring for children in need and children’s ministry as a strategy for mission,” Allison Ally, overseer of the national advocacy ministry at Compassion, said. 

“Students can expect to be challenged intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.”

Myra Daugherty, instructor of child studies at Briercrest, agreed and said she is excited to see how God is going to work in the lives of the students this year.

“Students are going to see what hunger really looks like. They are going to see what poverty really looks like, but they are also going to see even in this hunger and poverty there is still joy because many of these kids know Jesus,” Daugherty explained.

“If they have never seen what they are going to see or experienced anything like this it is going to be really life-changing. It’s interesting because each student takes away something different from the trip.”

The partnership between Compassion and Briercrest began two years ago as a way to walk alongside the next generation of ministry leaders and to sow seeds of compassion within them.

“It’s been my experience that sometimes children’s ministry is looked at as kind of a babysitting or ‘just go and play with the kids until they are old enough to be involved in church,’” Barry Slauenwhite, president of Compassion, explained.

“Our goal is to raise an army of child advocates within Canada. To do that we felt it would be best to partner with a learning institution like Briercrest, who shared the same passion.”

One of the unique aspects of the trip is that students earn credits toward their education while they are serving in Peru. “It is a regular horse games Kids games modular course, but with hands-on experience. Students will have pre-work and pre-reading to do before the trip, work to do while they are there, like journaling, and then work to do when they get back,” Daugherty explained.

“Basically we have classes in the mornings and then will see how Compassion is doing what we just learned about in class.”

One way students experience this hands-on approach is by visiting different Compassion projects.  They will interact with between 100 and 200 children at each project and as well as make a home visit.

“In that home visit we will do what we call a ‘life in a day.’ We get to see how the people live, and these are the poorest of the poor in the country. Not only will we get to see how they live, but we will get to participate. So, if it is farming we will actually take hoes and go help them farm their land.”

The goal of the trip is to create a cross-cultural experience and an understanding of holistic child development.

“To see how God works in the lives of people all over the world and in different economic backgrounds, and to see that no matter what our background is we all need Jesus,” Daugherty explained.  

Ally went on the trip last year and said it was exciting to watch the interactions between the students and children. It changed both their lives.  

“It is exciting to see the light bulb go on as (the students) understood how our ministry approach of being Christ centred, child focused and church based was impacting the whole family and community, not just the sponsored child,” she explained.

Slauenwhite agreed and said each year Compassion prays that each student would be changed.

“We pray that each student has a God encounter, and by that I mean they can meet a hundred people, but one of them is just going to blow their mind or burn a hole in their heart. We pray God would really touch their hearts and they would either develop or renew their passion for ministry to children,” he said.

“We pray that they will see Christ in the poor, especially around a child, and that when they do it will be a revolutionary experience for them and help shape their whole view of ministry to children.”