Photos by Chris Erley.
For more than 100 years, Seattle Pacific University has been sending students on journeys across the nation and around the globe to serve others. A current student-led effort, SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout International)
is a short-term mission organization that deploys more than a dozen student teams each year.
Shawnrene Keppel, a communication
major studying journalism, and four other SPU students spent nearly six weeks in China, serving, learning, and being served. Read about her life-changing experiences abroad during the summer of 2006:
Upon landing in Beijing on a warm night, I noticed we were being followed by a begging child who couldn’t have been more than 6 years old. And there it was — already — I was uncomfortable; what was I called to do about this injustice?
When I signed up for a SPRINT trip, I expected moments of discomfort, and I thought I’d be exposed to new things. But I couldn’t imagine the ways I would be changed, challenged in my faith, and forced to re-examine my life.
For nearly six weeks, our team experienced China — from the natural beauty of Tibet to the baptism of 30 Chinese Christians to playing with kids in an orphanage in Beijing. More than two months since our return, I’m still processing all that I saw. I still think about the children a lot.
It’s hard to describe the “lessons” I learned, to make tangible what was so “other-worldly.” I learned about sacrifice and was struck by the ease of my life. I witnessed people who spent their lives searching for truth and was embarrassed by my lackadaisical attitude about knowing my God. I experienced generosity and humility that left me in awe. I am still unsure about what I’m called to do, but I know that I can no longer plead ignorance.
SPRINT sparked a journey that did not end in China. The lessons I learned — that I am still digesting — will be with me for a long time. For me to leave those lessons in China would be as much of an injustice as the child begging for her next meal.
By Shawnrene Kreppel