Led to serve

 How Bluffton graduates give back

As Christians, we are called to serve those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison and strangers. As humans, we have an innate moral compass that leads us to reach out to those in need. For some,the choice to serve is a calling to help cultivate and fulfill people's spiritual and emotional needs. For others, it's an opportunity to put others first and help provide for their physical needs.

One way Bluffton graduates do this is through participation in voluntary service and mission organizations. Some seek one to three-year placements--locally, nationally or internationally directly after college to discover more about themselves and to explore vocation options. Some cultivate careers and then seek out terms that allow them to make use of the skills and wisdom they gained in their professional lives. Others, in retirement, seek out weeks and months-long terms, as their health and age allow, to continue actively giving back. All have a common goal: to serve others.

Phil BirkeyUsing one's "flaws and doubts" to serve
Phil Birkey '08Economics major/communications minor
It took Phil Birkey '08 six months to fill out his application to serve with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), but not because of its difficulty factor. "Every time I started filling it out, I would start doubting myself and whether this was what God was calling me to do," says Birkey in an e-mail from Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he is serving in his first of three years as a socio-economist researcher. more...

Aaron DarlingtonTraveling with a higher purpose
Aaron Darlington '08English major
"At the time, I felt like I had it all together," writes Aaron Darlington '08 in an e-mail from a gypsy village in Romania. "I had a dream job. I lived and worked with my best friend. I had a nice car, dated a pretty girl, attended church regularly and saved a lot of money. My life wasn't Christ-centered, and I was ready for a change." more...

Cindy Lehman BylerProviding relief while peacebuilding
Cindy (Lehman '72) BylerEducation major
"I didn't necessarily plan to do as many terms as I did, but that's just how it happened," Cindy (Lehman '72) Byler says. These days, Byler and her husband are almost two years into a five-year service term with MCC in the Middle East. They are living in Amman, Jordan, and serving as MCC representatives to Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Israel/Palestine. more...

Greg Walker-WilsonHelping rebuild livelihoods
Greg Walker-Wilson '89Self-designed major
In July, Greg Walker-Wilson '89 and his family will begin a three-year volunteer assignment with MCC, journeying to Sincelejo, Colombia, to work with the local nonprofit SembrandoPaz. The organization helps the churches form a network of income-generating projects to rebuild communities torn by violence and displacement. more...

Will StemenSpreading education and compassion
Will Stemen '63Mathematics major
"[Our church] entered into a partnership with the country of Swaziland," says Will Stemen '63. "The partnership includes areas of construction, education and medical and spiritual needs. Our church sends teams four times each year, and the teams have consisted of doctors, dentists, nurses, educators, construction workers and social workers who work with the already formed HIV/AIDS Compassionate Ministries Task Force." more...

While attending Bluffton--an institution whose values are firmly rooted in Anabaptist/Mennonite traditions--all graduates come to more fully know what it means to serve others. In the words of 16th century church leader Menno Simons, "True evangelical faith cannot lie sleeping: it clothes the naked, it comforts the sorrowful, it feeds the hungry, it shelters the destitute, it cares for the sick, it becomes all things to all people." In a word, it asks that we serve all of humanity, a challenge many Bluffton graduates take to heart.