EMU group experiences life, learning from UN slum communities

emuA slum in North Africa became home last summer to a group of EMU students led by Professor Johonna Turner and her husband, Julian.

“They survive off of garbage. The things that we throw away, that we do not take into consideration, they take it and they recycle it for survival,” said student participant Tae Dews. Although the neighborhood looks, well, trashed to an outsider, “to the residents of this community, it is full of hope and beauty.”

Five undergraduate students, a graduate student, and two recent graduates joined the Turners and several other travelers from around the country on the trip, a Global Urban Trek sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The EMU contingent shared an apartment with 12 other people – yes, 22 total in the flat – for six weeks.

 

Experiencing a different life

The program began with a one-week orientation in Bangkok, followed by six weeks in North Africa. Three other groups also served in United Nations-designated “slum communities,” where students give up the American mainstream in favor of spiritual discipline, learning from the urban poor, and discernment about future service opportunities.

One of the most difficult tasks they faced, says Johonna Turner, was reciprocating the hospitality of their hosts, a Coptic Christian community. Not to mention their faith in God, joy and dancing.

Noah Haglund, a sophomore peacebuilding and development major, recounts speakers stacked upon speakers outside of their apartment, where people danced through the night to celebrate births and weddings.

“We were fasting from excess,” says Haglund, who taught English to unschooled boys working as recycling sorters. With limited clothing, technology and diets, the group focused on celebration and spiritual practices.

From the trip’s beginning, an eight-hour delay at Dulles International Airport, followed by a 12- hour flight to Beijing, followed by a 13- hour layover before the flight to their orientation in Bangkok “brought all of us closer together,” says Brittany Williams.

Johonna and Julian Turner became InterVarsity’s first black Trek directors after a Washington D.C. church contact – who became an InterVarsity coordinator – invited them to apply. Julian says their diverse group drew surprised comments from residents, who were only familiar with white Americans.

 

Witnesses to love and joy

Julian and Johonna pointed out that the Coptic community provided more of a learning than missions opportunity for their students.

“As Christians, we’re often anxious to find spaces where we can go in and be the hero,” says Julian. “You don’t always have to be the person starting something. Sometimes your most powerful impact is made by coming alongside someone who’s already started something.”

The Turners were joined by a support staff including graduate student Matthew Nyce and recent graduates Shirley Steward-Jones and Jolee Paden.

Williams did physical therapy with children with cerebral palsy. Lacking money to purchase wheelchairs, mothers carried children, whether toddler or teenager, on their backs to the center. “That really hit home to know that a mother’s love is so strong, to carry her child,” says Williams.The students spent their days volunteering at a hospital, center for children with disabilities, community education center, daycare, or artisan women’s recycling cooperative.

“Agape love,” is the concept that Rachel Sturm says she’s taken away from this trip. Her friendship with a colleague taught Sturm that “living in such a poor area, you have to be happy by loving God and loving your family and your peers. Otherwise, you have nothing.”

To learn more, read the group’s blog posts here. Applications are now open for the 2017 InterVarsity Global Urban Trek.



augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.