The John Perkins Center at SPU Welcomes Liz Andes

By Owen Sallee

By Owen Sallee, Coordinator for Urban and Global Involvement

One of the great joys of working in the John Perkins Center at Seattle Pacific University is the opportunity to serve as an advisor, mentor, and supporter of student leaders as they serve in communities in Seattle and around the world. Advisors encourage reflection and discussion, facilitate learning opportunities and collaborate with student leaders as they lead their peers in learning and service.


This year the Perkins Center welcomes Seattle Pacific University 2009 graduate Liz Andes to the team. Liz serves as the assistant coordinator for global and urban involvement, mentoring and supporting students in the Latreia, Urban Involvement, and Seattle Pacific Reachout International (SPRINT) programs.


I asked Liz to share her heart and experience with readers of the Perkins Perspective.

How did you engage with the John Perkins Center at SPU while you were a student?

Tali Hairston, director of the John Perkins Center at SPU, was my University Seminar professor. Through his class “Leadership in the Global Context,” I first learned about the incredible work of John M. Perkins.


I knew that during my time at SPU, I wanted to take advantage of opportunities to learn about and build relationships with people in both the Seattle community and in cultures around the world. The summer after my sophomore year, I went on a SPRINT trip to Hyderabad, India, that absolutely turned my world upside down. I learned an incredible amount about the work of the local church in India and their tireless work to free oppressed men and women from the bonds of slavery. I witnessed holistic community development in action and was challenged to take what I had learned and put it into practice at home.


During my junior year I had the privilege of participating in the Urban Plunge program. This experience opened my eyes to street culture and fostered a deep love for street-involved young people. I started volunteering at Sacred Heart with an Urban Involvement team and invested myself in the community of New Horizons Ministries, a drop-in center for youth.


I also was able to grow as a leader through my roles as education coordinator and fundraising coordinator on SPRINT core. I was challenged to think about what it means to do ministry and be a Christian leader. I was blessed by many discussions surrounding the theology of missions and the principles of Christian community development.

Did your experience as a student influence your desire to work with the Perkins Center? How?

My experience as a student leader in the Perkins Center at SPU most definitely influenced my desire to work in the Perkins Center! My experiences with SPRINT and Urban Involvement were transformative. I am truly a different person as a result of these opportunities.


I now have the incredible opportunity of facilitating these same experiences for other students. Seeing the growth and development that takes place in students during their time at SPU — emotionally and spiritually — gives me such fulfillment and happiness. I believe in the vision of Seattle Pacific University and the unique lens of reconciliation.

Our hope for JPC programs is that we’ll equip students to contribute to community health and wholeness while learning from models of effective community engagement. What have you observed in this area so far? Are we delivering on our promise?


One reason I respect the Perkins Center so much is its philosophy of learning from communities instead of going in with its own agenda of what needs to get done.


We recognize that the needs of a community are best met from within. While we desire to help, we primarily learn, watch, and participate in what God is already doing in this place. Seattle is a diverse city where hundreds of organizations are doing good work 365 days a year.


Our Urban Involvement and SPRINT teams are centered around this idea of learning from effective models while contributing to the work that is already taking place. I observed this on my SPRINT trip to India. A great deal of our training was focused on the idea of going abroad as learners. Instead of examining what we could accomplish during our trip, we were encouraged to look for what God is already doing in India.

What impact do you hope to have on students this year?

I hope that students feel supported and equipped to serve and to lead. I hope that they are challenged to go deeper in their discussion of global and urban ministry. I hope that they are awakened to and transformed by God’s purpose and passion for a broken world. I hope that they question the way things are and are inspired to make change in themselves and in their communities. If I can help foster any of these changes in students, then I will have done my job.

What are your plans after your work with the JPC?

Next summer I will be interning with Dalit Freedom Network, SPRINT’s host in India. The Dalit Freedom Network partners with the Dalits in their quest for religious freedom, social justice, and human dignity.

However, I can’t say for sure what is in store for me because there are so many things I would love to do! I am passionate about a wide variety of issues and communities — refugees, street youth, and the Dalits of India, to name a few. I’m excited to see how God continues to direct my paths and open doors to do his work here in Seattle and around the world.

Owen Sallee Owen Sallee trained under World Vision's Vision Youth Initiative, and he was a youth director for Choose Life Youth Ministries in White Center for 12 years, during and following his time as a SPU undergraduate. He is a 1999 SPU graduate, and in 2006, he completed his master’s degree in school counseling at Seattle Pacific.


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