“‘…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothes you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” — Matthew 25:35–39
Some in society can be viewed as “less than” others—those who are imprisoned, hungry, strangers. Yet, these fellow humans are loved by our Creator and in need of someone to care for them. Clarks Summit University alumni step out to serve in countless numbers of ways and locations. The following stories tell how God is working through alumni to reach those who are hurting and in need of Christ’s love.
SERVING CHILDREN OF REFUGEES
By Laura Moore (’97)
“We need teachers and tutors,” Pete Brokopp told a short-term missions team from Pennsylvania in 2020. Elizabeth Sheddy (’12,’21), a CSU alumnus and a member of that team, perked up.
SHE was a teacher! And she was seeking the Lord’s direction for the calling He had already revealed to her: full-time gospel ministry, missions and teaching. As she sat there at dinner that evening, Sheddy was praying for direction and clarity in how she could do those things.
Brokopp is the site coordinator for Envision Atlanta, part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s short-term missions office. He described the need for teachers at the site’s after-school program, and Sheddy processed the possibilities. She was working on her Master of Education through online classes at CSU. The degree would give her the qualifications to meet the need Brokopp described.“This opportunity combined all three elements of the calling I sensed from the
Lord: full-time gospel ministry, missions and teaching,” she said. “That is a really cool God thing—only in Him.”
In the spring of 2021, she received her Master of Education, and by August she was living in Georgia.
The Ellis Island of the South
Envision Atlanta is in Clarkston, just 30 minutes outside Atlanta. This small town has been called “the most diverse square mile in America” because it is home to over 90 different people groups. For nearly 30 years, Clarkston has been welcoming people from other countries seeking refuge in America. It serves as a respite until they can be resettled. It is an “Ellis Island” for those seeking to enter the next, hopefully better, chapter of their lives.
The need for resources
The kids of Clarkston attend several local schools. In 2020, many schools implemented some big changes that included moving to virtual classrooms. This created an enormous need for many refugee families who didn’t have resources to adapt. For a lot of kids who were already facing educational and social challenges this threatened to widen the learning gap.
“The kids didn’t have the technology they needed,” Sheddy recalls. “They didn’t have the resources at home to help them out; there was already a need, and now an even larger need.”
So, Sheddy took on the job of expanding Envision Atlanta’s after-school program, adding middle and high school programs to the existing elementary track. She also works with Envision Atlanta’s Friday night youth ministry. Not only is she working in a unique mission field as a teacher, but she’s also working in a youth ministry as well—the three things God called her to do.
Sheddy and all the Envision Atlanta team members live within the communities and apartment complexes with the people they serve as their neighbors. Although the needs for Clarkston residents are great, at the top of the list is relationships. For many refugees, having an American friend is invaluable.
“One of the biggest needs we have found here within the refugee community is the need to have a relationship with an American,” Sheddy explained. “So as much as programming can be really helpful, we are really about building relationships and even modeling the ministry of Christ, building relationships with the people He was ministering to…The hope is to give them the tools and the resources and the assistance they need,” she explains. “Not only to live the best they can in America, but also, hopefully leading them to Christ and seeing them able to experience a life of freedom and of fullness with Him, and in turn making disciples as well.”