This year John Brown University plans to take spring break missions trips to New Orleans, La., Jackson, Miss. and Miami, Fla.
Student development is giving students the opportunity to participate in missions in hopes of furthering community development in those areas.
While the general goal of all the trips is the same, each trip plans to reach out to a particular community differently.
Rebekah Ruckman, administrative assistant for student development at JBU and the leader for the New Orleans trip, said that the main purpose of her trip is to serve the people of Louisiana through manual service projects.
“It’s a tangible way to show God’s love,” Ruckman said. “We’re not evangelizing to them or preaching to them. We’re just living life day to day with them and helping them with tangible needs, whether it be painting their house or laying floors, whatever it may look like. Just serving them and loving them.”
Jason Flewellen, a senior, along with Ruckman, is a returning member to this particular trip. He said the people of New Orleans were the biggest draw for his decision to return.
“I wanted to go back, because I loved the people of New Orleans. Just going down there and being able to work with the people down there is something that I loved doing,” Flewellen said.
“That’s something that I really related to, getting to be on a personal level with those people,” he continued.
While the New Orleans trip is geared towards manual community service, John Brown’s journey to Jackson focuses more on community building, particularly in regard to the ongoing civil rights movement.
“This trip will be JBU’s fifth trip to Jackson — my third,” said Frank Huebert, director of service and outreach ministries at JBU and leader of the Jackson trip.
“It’s a service-learning trip. We’re going to spend some time learning more about civil rights history in the United States, particularly in the South. We’ll have the opportunity to visit museums and interact with John Perkins, who is a key civil rights leader in the state of Mississippi.”
Huebert said another aspect of the trip is learning about Christian community development.
“It’s important to go into a community and do work that doesn’t end up creating more harm than good, but still brings about good that works to build up a community, understand its resources and recognize that every community has everything it needs to be healthy and successful,” Huebert said.
JBU’s expedition to Miami will focus on the prevention of sex trafficking in the community. According to sophomore Rebecca Ramirez, this trip, which she will attend, will address how to interact with sex workers and what civilians can do to fight sex trafficking.
“It’ll be a learning experience for how we can actually help, not how we want to help. As much as I would love to be a superhero, I want to know what I actually should do,” Ramirez said.
While the students and leaders go to their different locations and aim to build the communities to which they travel, one of the aspects that they themselves benefit from is building community with their fellow University students and faculty with whom they serve.
“One of the things that has been true of every trip I’ve taken is that the people who have gone on the trip don’t usually know each other very well,” Huebert said.
“We go to JBU, and we talk about it being small and knowing everyone, but you don’t really know everyone. [The trips give] people the opportunity to really get to know people,” he said.