The Office of Spiritual Life at California Baptist University offers students a chance to learn about different populations and diverse cultures through Compassion Ministries called Urban Excursion.
The purpose is to make students aware of the challenges and opportunities others face in local urban cities. The most recent Urban Excursion was in San Diego Feb 17-19.
Julie Dobbins, director of compassion and women’s ministries, has been a part of Urban Excursion for the past 10 years and said she believes it gives students the chance to practically apply their beliefs.
“The vision of Urban Excursion trips is giving students an opportunity to put their faith into action, though a student does not have to be a follower of Christ to participate,” Dobbins said. “Ultimately, we desire to serve others whether that is through a conversation, serving a meal or offering to pray and share about the hope of Christ.”
Compassion Ministries offers excursions during weekends and school breaks to accommodate students’ schedules with training nights prior to the trip.
“Our goal is to prepare and connect with other students prior to leaving so that we are equipped to work together and engage people in other cities,” Dobbins said. “Once we are on the trips, we partner with local non-profits and churches who are already engaging with people who have a need for others to come alongside and assist or encourage them.”
Dobbins said she enjoys witnessing the students engage and serve in different ways every year through the different programs.
“With students, my favorite part is watching what they get to learn and share with people as they step out of their comfort zones to share their faith or interact with someone with whom they may have nothing in common,” Dobbins said. “Christ opens doors for conversations and prayers that are impactful for everyone involved.”
Jack Kerchner, junior graphic design and leadership studies double major, went on his third excursion this weekend to San Diego and continues to see the benefits of participation.
“Urban Excursion has definitely made an impact in my own life,” Kerchner said. “God has used it to grow my empathy and love for others, to grow a deeper heart for service, and to grow my thankfulness for the blessings He has given me.”
The goal of Urban Excursion is to engage students in service and change their mindset during and after the event.
“Our hope is that students would learn more about what serving in their community can look like on a daily basis,” Dobbins said. “Many times after going on Urban Excursion, they integrate service more regularly into their routine. Part of that routine is changing your mindset about how to engage and care for others.”