John 13 paints the perfect picture of servanthood for Christians in today’s world. Jesus washing the disciples feet sets an example that Christians are called to follow. Many are aware of the call to serve, but a group of students have committed their lives to answering that call.
Change for Change
Senior youth and educational ministry major Corey Easterday has shared his time and passions with several organizations such as Refuge of Hope, Love Canton as well mission work on Native American reservations. In November of 2010, Easterday established a branch of the Laundry Love Project in Canton. The LLP was started in Florida as a way to financially assist those at laundry mats while building relationships with them in the process. After a discussion with an individual who was homeless in his hometown of Barberton, Easterday started thinking of how he could do more to help those in need. When a friend emailed him the link to the LLP, Easterday knew this was a good opportunity. In two weeks, 300 dollars were raised on campus for the LLP in Canton.
Easterday is not a stranger to poverty and shares that much of his passion for serving those in financial need stems from growing up in poverty himself. His family did not have a washer and dryer and they had to spend money at the laundry mat. After reading Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution, Easterday’s heart was stirred into serving.
“I started asking what does it really mean to love someone like Christ,” Easterday said.
Easterday hopes to model the church of Acts in today’s world and challenges other to step out of their comfort zones and realize what it looks like to rely on the Holy Spirit in serving our brothers and sisters.
Serving through obedience
Serving does not always reveal itself in a grand organization. Sometimes it’s simply giving up your time to create a positive day for others. Junior communication arts major Sara Shoup volunteers her time at Pegasus Farms helping those with cognitive and physical disabilities. Pegasus Farms provides therapeutic care through riding horses for children. Shoup, who is a natural lover of horses, saw this as a perfect opportunity to share her love and help others at the same time. By engaging the children with horses, Shoup has been able to create a positive and friendly evironment.
“When you see a child do something successfully, it makes the whole day worth it,” Shoup said.
To Shoup, serving can be about little acts of kindness rather than grand gestures.
“We’re not always going to get some huge call to go serve,” said Shoup. “It’s more about being obedient and doing what God’s Word says.”
The Power of Prayer
For senior nursing major Stephan Nzishura, prayer can change the world. Nzishura, who has been involved in the Canton Calvary Mission and Love Canton, started the Justice House of Prayer with a friend in August of 2010. The JHOP, located in downtown Canton, holds meetings every Thursday to pray for local and global justice. The group has led several prayer walks around Canton, visiting and praying with individuals. They also have visited the courthouse to pray for political leaders. Along with prayer, the JHOP also is actively involved with the community, especially the youth. They have hosted a movie night, a Halloween festival and a talent show. It is in these actions that Nzishura has shared the gospel with those who are not exposed to it.
According to Nzishura, what’s most important is mixing justice, missions and prayer into his faith. He says that prayer changes people’s hearts and by changing people’s hearts, you can change their behavior.
“I believe heavily in praying because we need the Lord to work through us,” Nzishura said.
After reading a book on Malone University written by Osbourne, Nzishura discovered Malone’s roots in missions and serving. That, paired with his passion for justice, moved him to commit his life to servanthood. Nzishura learned that being a Christ follower means being a servant.
Through his dedication to prayer and building relationships in the community, Nzishura has started not only a prayer revolution in Canton, but also has been active in the Malone House of Prayer also.
“It [serving] keeps my heart alive,” Nzishura said.
An example of Christ
Junior communication arts major Brianne Wyse is modeling Christ’s love through her work as a Young Life leader. Wyse’s past resident advisor, who also was involved in YL, made an impact in her life and influenced her to be the same kind of role model for other teenagers. Through building relationships and meeting these teens where they are at in their spiritual walk, Wyse has been able to serve with Christian love.
“It’s our duty as Christians to show God’s love and what a true Christian looks like,” Wyse said.
Wyse meets with Young Life two nights a week for worship and group activities. She also is a leader of a group of five girls where she holds Bible studies and builds an individual relationship with each of them. Through playing volleyball on the weekends to getting ice cream and hanging out, Wyse has been able to build a bond with these teenagers and share the gospel with them. Wyse said not having anyone pour into her at their ages has influenced her to be that person for other teenagers.
Giving a voice to the silenced
Senior Bible and theology Jon Detweiler major has embraced the very definition of servanthood. He has been involved with the Justice House of Prayer, Young Life and Refuge of Hope as well as many other things. Detweiler began his involvement with Refuge of Hope, a homeless shelter, through an internship. It was there that he led Bible studies with the homeless individuals, fed them and even helped one man write out a plan for his life. By serving his community, Detweiler realized his compassion for the oppressed.
“I want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves,” Detweiler said.
Just recently, Detweiler and his cousin gained non-profit status as they prepare for a three month, 2500 mile canoeing trip. They plan on raising money per mile for missions in Mozambique, Africa. Detweiler shares that he is excited as well as nervous about this trip. Along the way he hopes to make this trip about relationships. He is excited about the people he will meet and the way the Lord will provide for him.
Detweiler loves adventure and is eager to serve the Lord and oppressed people any way he can—even if that includes a little danger.
“I don’t know where the Lord is leading me or where I’m going to land,” Detweiler said. “I do these things because of Christ in me. I’ve come to known Him and His heart is for the people.”
Steena Hymes is a contributing writer for The Aviso.