Story By Clint Kelly
Kampman is only one example of SPU students transformed by their experiences through Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational (SPRINT). Since 1983, SPRINT has involved more than 1,300 students in cross-cultural mission experiences both domestic and international. This summer, 76 students from a wide variety of academic disciplines flew to nine foreign countries and the city of Philadelphia. In Ghana, they're assisting Wycliffe Bible Translators; in Ireland, they're befriending Irish youth; in Venezuela, they're working with Mission Aviation Fellowship. Nursing students in Haiti and Dominican Republic are earning academic credit. Whatever and wherever the assignment, they receive an unprecedented education of the mind and heart that lasts a lifetime.
SPRINTers, as they are affectionately known, have endured tarantulas on bedroom walls, cockroaches four to five inches in length, and the loss of the host family dog to a hungry jaguar. Heat, strange foods, new customs, unfamiliar languages, and crushing poverty make up the short list of challenges facing Seattle Pacific students who travel thousands of miles and volunteer thousands of service hours every winter, spring and summer break to engage cultures around the world from Alberta to Zaire.
What they gain, however, is priceless. In fact, some educators believe that a cross-cultural experience should be required of every college student to graduate. Tami Anderson Englehorn, SPU's assistant director of campus ministries for global involvement, thinks the idea has merit.
"Such experiences teach us how to work for the common good, to forego the pursuit of material wealth in favor of working toward human dignity for all," says Anderson Englehorn '93, who earned her master's degree in marriage and family therapy from Fuller Seminary. "SPRINT trips help us develop as global Christians and in our passion for Christ."
Missions have always been a cornerstone of Seattle Pacific's raison d'etre. From the early days when Adelaide Beers, wife of the University's first president, prayed for God to make what was then known as Seattle Seminary "a missionary school," SPU has equipped thousands of graduates for global Christian service.
By the 1980s, Seattle Pacific was asking how the institution's historic emphasis on missions fit with a comprehensive university program that included the liberal arts, sciences, professional studies and graduate studies. The result was a renewed commitment to develop students "as leaders and agents of renewal throughout the church and the world," regardless of their major or career aspirations.
In 1983, President David Le Shana named Doug Pennoyer director of the Intercultural Institute of Missions (IIM) at SPU, and charged him with refocusing the University's missionary emphasis. One of Pennoyer's students, Ray Tse, was passionate about taking a summer ministry team of students to his hometown of Hong Kong. After applying independent study to the plan, he emerged with the SPRINT name and a business model for student-directed mission outreach. With Pennoyer's sponsorship, the University sanctioned the plan and the trip.
"Our plan was to infuse a vision for world evangelization throughout the University," says Pennoyer, who today is dean of the School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University. "We sent teams from various disciplines utilizing their particular academic skills. We had electrical engineering teams going to Taiwan and biology/premed teams linking up with SPU alumnus Ron Guderian on a medical research project in Ecuador."
This summer, nearly two decades after the formation of SPRINT, Pennoyer's oldest daughter, Heather Pennoyer Kooiman, and her husband, Eric, are mentoring a team of 11 Seattle Pacific students and staff members in Egypt. With a dozen donated computers, the computer science majors are establishing a computer lab for 600 children at the Lillian Trasher Orphanage.
Today, SPRINT is guided by student volunteers (and three paid student staff members) who evaluate more mission project site requests than they can accommodate; oversee all fund raising and travel arrangements for each team; and manage an annual budget of $250,000. The University's vision to "engage the culture and change the world" has been a rallying cry for increasing numbers of students, alumni, faculty and staff who want to apply their learning and skills in practical ways across the globe through the SPRINT program.
Unfortunately, the number of SPRINT trips and student SPRINTers had to be cut this year to keep the program manageable. Thousands of people have donated funds to individual team members over the years, but for the program to continue to expand, says Dean of the Chapel Tim Dearborn, a permanent and professional administrator must be hired. To do that — and provide SPRINT team members with adequate scholarship help — will require contributions to a new SPRINT Endowment Fund.
"The potential is great for SPRINT to grow and involve more and more SPU students," he says. "SPRINT is an outstanding way to equip students to engage our culture and participate in God's transformation of the world."
"SPRINT is an education of the heart as well as the mind," agrees sophomore April Schock, the new technology coordinator for SPRINT, who is responsible for maintaining Internet and e-mail communications between mission teams and their home supporters. "My SPU education involves much more than what I learn from books. It's also about how I live my life. SPRINT is helping me see how I can use my occupational therapy training cross-culturally."
While there are still many countries that welcome mission teams, increasingly there are portions of the world that restrict access to missionaries. In these places, SPRINTers can make an impact by modeling a Christian spirit of service while not overtly engaging in religious activity. This summer's SPRINT team to China is an example. Schock traveled there with 12 other SPRINTERS to teach English to high school students and provide maintenance for an international school in Beijing.
"SPRINT teaches you that anywhere you go can be your mission field," believes Tse, who parlayed a business degree from SPU into a key position with Promotional Partners Worldwide in Los Angeles, a promotional marketing agency. He manages and develops programs for multinational consumer brands, and licensing for corporate giants like Disney and McDonald's.
"I honestly thought I would be a church planter after SPU," he says, "but I couldn't get the money together for seminary. So I went off to pursue business and things took a turn beyond my wildest imagination. But this L.A. mission field is equally challenging to one's integrity and character."
Surprises are a great value of the SPRINT experience. Marta Bennett, former director of campus ministries and SPRINT coordinator from 1985 to 1990, led teams of SPU students to West Africa, Ghana, Jamaica, Brazil and Sierra Leone. SPRINT expanded her worldview to the place where in 1993, while on doctoral research in Kenya, she felt oddly at home. A year later, she joined the faculty of Daystar University, a Kenyan Christian university of the liberal arts and professions.
"What I didn't expect is that I would adopt two Kenyan children," says Bennett, who chairs postgraduate studies and teaches leadership development and biblical studies at Daystar. "I guess you could say that they are another product of SPRINT!"
If SPRINT teaches anything, says Jennifer Kampman, it is that "missions" is much broader and the world much wider than most students think at first. "I came away from SPU and SPRINT with a greater understanding of the world and how Christians can function in it. It makes me excited to use the things I've learned to 'go forth!'"
Editor's Note: If you're a former SPRINT team member who'd like to convey
value of a SPRINT experience to your life, visit the Online
Response Bulletin Board.
Excerpts of alumni contributions to the Bulletin Board will be printed in a
issue of Response.
If you'd like to receive the SPRINT newsletter, provide prayer support for a
mission team, mentor a returning SPRINTer or contribute to the SPRINT
Fund, contact Tami Anderson Englehorn at 206/281-2458 or email@example.com,
the SPRINT Web site.
If you'd like to receive the SPRINT newsletter, provide prayer support for a student mission team, mentor a returning SPRINTer or contribute to the SPRINT Endowment Fund, contact Tami Anderson Englehorn at 206/281-2458 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the SPRINT Web site.