University Ministries Summer Highlights

Leann Ippolito in Bolivia

While some things did quiet down a little bit around North Park's campus this summer, University Ministries saw plenty of action.

The day after graduation 32 students and staff got on airplanes to fly to Thailand, Zambia, and Bolivia. Each trip had a different emphasis. The partnership with Bolivia is well-established, and this team had the opportunity to continue developing their relationship with International Teams, an organization establishing orphanages and providing a community for vulnerable children. This team had 11 students and was advised by Chantel Moore, the Office Manager of University Ministries.

One of Bolivia's student Trip Leaders, Leann Ippolito, said, "I have fallen in love with Bolivia; its people, especially the kids, inspire me to serve God with my very best. From playing soccer with orphans and varnishing an orphanage to feeding malnourished babies and speaking Spanish with house-parents, I felt so blessed to be a part of their lives. I have so loved this amazing country that I plan on returning for a third time as an intern in the next year."

Global Partnership also sent North Park's first team to Hope Ministries in Zambia, where 14 students lived in host homes, set up a temporary medical clinic, and worked on a sponsorship program. The Thailand team was made up of seven leaders who spent time with another partner organization, NewSong Covenant Church/Xealot, in order to establish the best methods of collaboration for in the future.

Meanwhile, back on campus, Urban Outreach Coordinator Tony Zamble was overseeing North Park's Summer Camp for neighborhood junior high students. This year saw 45 at-risk youth from Albany Park participate in activities ranging from baseball games to health and relationship discussions, meals at ethnic restaurants, and swimming in Lake Michigan. This year's camp was supervised by North Park alumna Ilona Nazarians and current students Tim Anderson and Ashley Collins, who each recalled their highlights:

"I loved spending quality time with the kids. I really felt like they grew from the first week of camp and to see that growth over only a five-week period was amazing and encouraging. I learned patience and how to really listen; also this summer I learned how to be firm but loving at the same time. The kids really learned some life lessons and it was amazing to be a part of that." - Ashley Collins

"Many of the kids who came are at a vital stage in development [ages 11-14] and come from all levels of home nourishment. Some kids had parents who loved and cared for them. Others were children of parents struggling to make ends meet. One girl was unable to bring a lunch every day even after we emphasized the importance of bringing a lunch. It turns out that her mother was working and paying for nursing school as well and did not have enough money . . . to properly nourish her child. Other parents were in the middle of divorce, others were [undocumented] immigrants. The needs the children had were often overwhelming, but their often-generous and kind attitudes reminded us that every person is made in God's image. God has blessed North Park by placing it in an area that is as diverse as the Earth He created. It was an honor to be a part of." - Tim Anderson

And finally, during June and July, a group of North Park alumni, current students, and staff members traveled from coast to coast leading worship at African-American Covenant churches. Sponsored by Mark Olson, Dean of Enrollment, this was an effort to build relationships between North Park and churches in the denomination. The group flew to various cities on Saturday, rehearsed at the church in the afternoon, stayed in host homes or hotels, and led worship for the Sunday morning service(s). Following worship, the team ate lunch with members of the church, including high school students, and shared about North Park and the University's desire to stay connected with their local church. New Worship Arts Coordinator Steve Kelly and fourth-year student Christy Boydston had this to say about the experience:

"Traveling with the NPU Worship Tour was the highlight of my summer. It truly was a joy not only to fellowship with churches in our denomination that support North Park, but to watch the relationships being built between the students and the churches was exciting. We were able to meet prospective students and spend time with their families and provide a support system for them when they arrive here at North Park." - Steve Kelly

"It was enriching to experience such a wide range of worship styles and dynamics in the churches we visited. Each church family welcomed us with open arms, and I really enjoyed connecting with our hosts." - Christy Boydston

The University Ministries staff is thankful for all of the supporters and contributors to University Ministries and North Park.