Chowan University Campus Ministry builds on past to strengthen future
Chowan University Campus Ministry, led by Reverend Mari Wiles, Minister to the University, and Reverend Drew Phillips, Associate Minister, is extremely active in the community and abroad. Introducing students to missions locally and globally is a priority of Chowan Campus Ministry. The experiences transform not only the lives of those served but the lives of the student missionaries as well.
Chowan Campus Ministry employs a relational ministry model, returning to past locations to build and strengthen relationships between partners and communities, this enhances the spiritual growth of each student-missionary, as they learn from partners outside of the region and bring new perspectives and practices back to local ministry. Each experience enriches the efforts of the next.
To kick off the semester, Campus Ministry partnered with Ahoskie Foodbank and Chowan Rotaract Club to pack Backpack Buddies for the children of Riverview Elementary and other area schools. On August 23, 2018, a total of 983 bags were packed by more than 150 students, alongside 30 faculty and staff members, to provide healthy food for children who might otherwise go without over the weekend.
Each year, Campus Ministry hosts a service project the first week of school, a tradition since 2006. “For the past six years, we have been packaging meals for third-world countries. It was great to be intentional to serve our local school children this year,” remarked Reverend Wiles. “Our students were overjoyed to help in this tangible way. When we have a need, they always show up. I hope this will always be the Chowan way.”
For spring break this year, Campus Ministry will embark on a return trip to Red Springs Mission Camp. Last year, a team of 19 students spent Christmas break with the camp as part of the North Carolina Baptists on Mission Here & Now Weekend preparing meals for the homeless. They also made and delivered Christmas decorations to those displaced by Hurricane Matthew in participation with Red Springs Mission Camp’s toy store.
“Partnerships are a New Testament model. We want to connect our students to healthy ministries; build and expand on relationships as we return to beloved people and places,” stated Reverend Wiles. “There are some ministries where it just clicks that we want to return and they want us to return. It is a joy when that happens.”
Another upcoming trip developed from a relationship forged in 2017. Campus Ministry will again work with Door of Hope to build villages for orphaned babies in Johannesburg, South Africa, following commencement 2019. Campus Ministry first worked with Door of Hope in May 2017 when 15 Campus Ministry students, accompanied by four staff members, participated in a mission to build a village of hope.
A Chowan Campus Ministry team also visited Cuba to work with Cuban Baptists in Santa Clara, over spring break last semester. Students shared their physical strength by laying the foundation for the region’s first seminary and their spirit by leading worship and preaching in Cuban churches. This was the fourth visit to Cuba from Chowan. Campus Ministry served with Cuban Baptist in 2012, Reverend Wiles returned in 2013 to lead a revival, and Campus Ministry returned in 2016.
Amber Cunningham, a Chowan junior, describes being moved to tears over the 17 baptisms she witnessed in Cuba. “I cried because my brothers and sisters in Christ were so excited about Christ in a country that oppresses those who proclaim the very name of Christ.”
More recently, in June, Campus Ministry sent a team of 14 to Portland, ME, to serve with Preble Street (an organization that works with people experiencing homelessness). Students learned about homelessness, hunger, and poverty; challenges that are shared with their local community. This experience equipped students with new perceptions and concepts to further serve locally.
“After graduating from Chowan this past May I knew I left my heart at Chowan. Now, after this mission trip to Portland, ME, I know my soul is in Maine,” Mission team member Evelyn Walker stated. “I got to see my God, my Savior, and His spirit a bit differently through this trip. God whispered in every encounter and at every location, and with every member.”
In addition to mission trips throughout the year, each night of the week except Saturday there is a student-led Ministry that meets on campus. Often weekends are spent ministering in local churches. Members of Campus Ministry build community locally and abroad through both physical labor and ministry. These experiences transform the students and the lives of those each project touches. A network of supporters makes this possible, to include the Chowan Christian Service Association, individual donors, local churches, and more.
For more information on Chowan University Campus Ministry please contact Reverend Mari Wiles at firstname.lastname@example.org or (252) 398-6268 or Reverend Drew Phillips at email@example.com or (252) 398-6383.