In the first SMC event of the year, students came together to worship, have fellowship, and hear testimonies from their peers. The event was put on by the Emerson-Arnett SMC staff, and was attended by SMCs and residents from every hall on campus.
“That’s my main thing … whenever we look out at our campus, our home, just keep in mind that you just never know when something encouraging, some positive thing that you say to someone could be that difference,” Emerson Hall Student Ministry Coordinator (SMC) Jarrett Bernhardt said to a responsive and enthusiastic gathered crowd in the Emerson lobby.
The evening was titled Night of Hope, which is well in line with the goals of the SMC ministry and the staff thereof, according to event attendees.
“Every week, [as] SMCs we spend anywhere between one and four hours with each other just brainstorming and throwing out ideas and just really taking time to pray about what it is that God wants for students, what it is that we know students also need,” Moyer SMC Tim Straughn said.
The SMC staff have been hard at work this year helping students engage with those in their halls and plan events to help their residents connect.
As SMCs, their wide range of duties include helping students connect to churches and service projects, having one-on-one meetings to talk with residents, and being available to minister and help to the students they serve.
One organization that SMCs help their residents get connected to is Latreia, an organization on campus that aims to help SPU students serve Seattle. They spoke at the event before the worship portion began.
“In a city like Seattle, there’s so many people experiencing different things, and there’s some people who are at disadvantages, and [there are] ways that we can give back to them,” a Latreia representative told the crowd before the event began.
“Just for us to be that hope for the city of Seattle, and give back to the city that has given so much to us,” she continued to explain the role of Latreia on campus. It was relevant to the themes of the event, as SMCs often work closely with Latreia to get students connected to service projects.
“Through Latreia, our mission is to try to partner with different organizations around the city. This can mean … going to an organization and just cleaning up their gardens. You don’t realize how much of an impact that makes… We really work to give people places that they can connect and give back.”
Throughout the event, the theme seemed to continually be one of hope.
Between worship songs, which the audience and SMCs enthusiastically participated in, there were three speakers who shared their testimonies with the group.
Bernhardt shared his experience growing up and struggling in school. He explained the way that a teacher who took the time to talk with him, encourage him and believe in him changed his life for the better going forward.
“I finally had someone who told me, in a school setting especially, that I was worth it and I can do it and I had the drive and talent and ability to make something of my life.”
According to Bernhardt, this experience lead him to pursue a career in education. He hopes to emulate his previous teacher in his work.
“I started to get closer to God, I did better in school… so I graduated from high school, and after that I could be anything I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do. … I decided I wanted to be a teacher to give hope to everyone.”
His testimony spoke to the importance of encouragement and giving hope to others through our words and actions, much like his teacher did for him years ago.
Another student, James Chung, spoke about his journey with medical challenges. In his emotional testimony, he said that he has chosen to become a youth pastor in the future because of his story, and he hopes to inspire and support young people in the church.
“I don’t know where God is calling me, but I feel called to ministry and my major is theology. I really feel a calling to minister to the youth” Chung said, receiving applause from the crowd..
From SMCs to RAs to residents, it was clear to see that nearly every attendee of the full event was thoroughly happy to be there, to sing and worship, to hear and be inspired by their peers, and to experience community in the midst of week six stresses.
SMCs from various halls say that they are extremely excited for the coming year and all that they have planned in the program.
“There is a new format for how the SMC ministry is being done on campus. I am super excited to see that so far we have had really good success,” Straughn continued.
They are especially ready to reach as many students as they can with their ministry, as the Emerson-Arnett SMCs hoped to do with their Night of Hope.
“I feel like [with] the resources we’re being equipped with with less SMCs, we are actually able to reach more people. I’m super excited to see the successes we continue to have with that.” Straughn concluded