Harding Students Use Spring Break For International Service

SEARCY, Ark. — For many Harding University students, spring break was a time to recharge and prepare for the remainder of the school year; but for more than 300 students, it was a time to serve. March 11-19, Harding students participated in weeklong mission campaigns across the Western hemisphere, serving in more than fourteen areas, including Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Canada, Alaska, Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.

Among the participants were 16 students and a professor who traveled to Jinotega, Nicaragua, to serve with the Mision Para Cristo, an organization that works with churches of Christ and local groups to meet the needs of the impoverished community. They participated in several projects, including adding a room to a school building, building a porch for a family, preparing a fence, making cement blocks used for building, reading books to children, performing a vacation Bible school for children and helping in a health clinic.

“The most rewarding part was seeing how thankful the Nicaraguans were for our help,” senior nursing major and campaign co-leader Megan Youngblood said. “We were able to help with both their spiritual and physical needs. Their smiles and appreciation were more of a reward than we could have ever asked for.”

Ten students served in Fall River, Mass., a community with a large number of impoverished, homeless and elderly residents, and worked through the Fall River Church of Christ to serve residents who were unable to provide for themselves. The group visited nursing homes and a halfway house, hosted a luncheon for the homeless, organized a carnival for local children and led Sunday worship.

“I really can’t be sure that we accomplished anything tangible,” junior mathematics and economics major and campaign co-leader Austin Christian said. “But by being in Massachusetts, we planted seeds in the members of that church about loving their community; we planted seeds in the community about finding arms of love; and both of these groups planted seeds in all of us about desiring a relationship with God for ourselves and for others.”

Harding had a record enrollment this year of more than 6,800 students from 49 states and 53 foreign countries. It is the largest private university in Arkansas and attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other private university in the state. Harding also maintains campuses in Australia, Chilé, England, France, Greece, Italy and Zambia.