Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:00 pm

For most students, spring break is a week that consists of relaxing, unwinding, and maybe even a vacation. But for eight Northwest University students, spring break 2017 was a life-changing experience as they traveled to Kolkata, India to engage in compassion and outreach ministry.

The students partnered with Calcutta Mercy Ministries and were given a variety of opportunities to serve the people in the slums of Kolkata. The team visited a school for over 100 blind children and was able to play and entertain the kids. They also ran a three-day Vacation Bible School where they ministered to over 50 children ages 3-7 who live in the slums, and served in the Calcutta Mercy Ministries feeding line to help provide meals to hundreds of families that travel to receive the food.

The team was led by junior Libby Absten. Reflecting on the week spent in India, Absten highlighted a major aspect of the trip.

“We were able to support different missionaries from all different types of nonprofit organizations in the city through purchasing goods that they had made to support projects like human trafficking, empowering women, and educating underprivileged children,” said Absten.

Not only was the team able to engage in immediate compassions ministry, but they were also able to help sustain the ongoing ministry work taking place in Kolkata by a variety of missionaries.

Senior Lauren Curry, another member on the trip, said the entire team was stretched in their understanding how to do effective ministry in a new culture.

“A lot of us went in not fully expecting to experience the culture as much as we did, and also not fully expecting to minister in the way we did,” Curry said.

Kolkata, India has a rich and unique culture, so part of their learning experience was assessing how they could best partner with Calcutta Mercy Ministries to serve the people in the way they best needed to be served.

Considering the culture difference, the team was able to be reminded of the greater meaning of community.

“I think it was an important reminder not only to appreciate all different kinds of cultures, but also to remember that God made us for each other and for community. Even just being in community with one another and truly loving each other despite our different beliefs is a form of ministry,” Curry said.