Micah Mandate

The Magazine of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Social Justice Graduate is Using Her Degree

Posted by admin October - 21 - 2012 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

By Brennen Finchum

There’s a young lady that lives in an orphanage in the village of Vidrare, Bulgaria.

 

She looks like she’s about 7 or 8 years old, but appearances aren’t always as they seem. She’s actually 23.

 

She has to have to wheelchair to get around and she cannot speak.

 

The life this young lady has lived is beyond anything someone can completely understand, even if Myers-Briggs said you were an ENFP.

 

Maybe it’s the fear of past experiences. Maybe she just wants to be independent. Or maybe she’s tired of being pitied. For whatever reason, she doesn’t like to be touched. In fact, she’ll often wince as if she’s in pain when someone touches her.

 

As soon as Vera Pendergraft, a recent Trevecca graduate, met this young woman, her heart cried out.

 

In an attempt to love her, Vera tried touching her shoulder and rubbing her arm.

 

Just like everyone else, Vera experienced the woman’s disgust for being touched.

 

Yet she continued to love. Vera took her on walks where she pushed her wheelchair.

 

An outsiders’ perspective may clearly see that Vera simply loved her, but she still didn’t like being touched.

 

Again and again and again, Vera would just touch her shoulder or rub her arm. After a while, the young lady got a little used to it.

 

One day, Vera went upstairs where the young woman lives with the other bed-ridden children. She was exhausted and had her head leaning against a bar. Vera came up to her and rubbed her arm until she got used to it.

 

Her head began to flop over like a sleep-deprived college student in the middle of class.

 

Over the course of an hour or two, Vera moved her a little so that her head was resting on Vera’s arm. This sweet woman who hated the feeling of another person’s touch was conked out in Vera’s arms.

 

At the end of the day, Vera went to her roommate, ecstatic at her success.

 

“Alex, did you see that?!”

 

It was a big switch since just 6 weeks earlier, Vera was headed to Bulgaria, asking herself, “How the heck am I gonna make a difference here?”

 

Moving from Nashville was nothing too crazy for Vera, who’d grown up moving all the time in a military family.

 

Not only that, but this was a place already dear to Vera. She had gone to Bulgaria the year before with the Immerse program at Trevecca. From the time she got back until she left this September on Trevecca’s Submerge trip, her desire to be in Bulgaria continuously built up.

 

This dream was something that began long before Trevecca though.

 

In the 3rd grade, Vera wanted to start an orphanage. 

 

“Who does that?” she said.

 

As she was finishing her senior year of high school, Vera was super passionate about Uganda. She’d seen the work invisible children had done and was inspired to major in film in hopes that she could do something similar.

 

“The Uganda thing was just a bandwagon,” she said.

 

The film classes weren’t all that she expected them to be. So her mind went to the next best thing and the one major she declared she’d never choose – Religion.

 

After talking with Tim Green about all of her passions and desires, he told her about the social justice program that Trevecca was getting ready to launch. She loved the ideals behind the program and after a talk with Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, she signed up.

 

While studying social justice and helping at local ministries, her passions intensified, but she also discovered new passions.

Before Trevecca, she didn’t know what human trafficking was. Now, her heart yearns for women and children who are caught in the human trafficking industry.

 

Right now, she’s working on a project to get food boxes for several of the families in the 3 villages she’s working with.

 

“I’m just thinking back on classes like social entrepreneurship where we’re having to fundraise.”

 

As she talked about the different things Trevecca taught her, a more solemn tone came over her voice. She began to talk about the issue of poverty.

 

She described that learning about the poverty mindset while she was at Trevecca has shaped her paradigm toward people.

 

“Like kids who smoke. Someone said that they wish they wouldn’t smoke but then it probably takes their mind off the fact that they’re hungry.”

 

The culture of poverty is completely different from the culture of a middle-class white American.

 

Even though Bulgarians are a different ethnic group, poverty is almost a universal language.

“It’s still the same poverty mindset. Which is cool. People are people.”

 

Vera said that the social justice program has helped her fit her passions into what the world needs.

 

“It sounds cheesy, but it helped find in myself what I was made to do and what God made me to do and figure out where in the world that fits.”

 

Even though her experience has been incredible in Bulgaria, this isn’t the last step in her life. In other words: To be continued.

 

Vera is sharing daily thoughts and experiences on her blog at seekingtobebold.blogspot.com.

All pictures were taken in Bulgaria and supplied by Vera Pendergraft.

Alarm Conference

Posted by admin October - 10 - 2011 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

A survivor of the Rwandan genocide and activist who trains other survivors spent a week with Trevecca students talking about forgiveness and reconciliation.

Dr. Célestin Musekura, president and founder of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry (ALARM), came to Trevecca to speak as part of a weeklong Reconciled conference that also included prayer services, lunch gatherings and a viewing of the film “As We Forgive.”

The conference was co-hosted by the Center for Social Justice through Trevecca.

Read the rest of this entry »

Abandoned Apartment Complex to House Intentional Community

Posted by admin April - 26 - 2011 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Trevecca students, a professor and his family, refugees and formerly homeless people will soon be sharing life and an apartment building in Trevecca’s backyard.

Jason Adkins, Trevecca environmental projects coordinator and alumnus, has partnered with friends to restore a previously dilapidated apartment complex in Chestnut Hill, a low-income neighborhood adjacent to campus.

Adkins, along with his wife and five children, plus seven other friends plan to move into the renovated apartment complex in early 2012, depending on how quickly funds for

The Castanea Community Center at 12 Garden Street. (Photo by Jordan Taylor)

completion are raised.

About 20 to 40 tenants, both refugees and the formerly homeless, will join them in their

cooperative housing.

The building, at 12 Garden Street, Nashville, referred to as Castanea Community Center, was purchased in February 2010 for $116,000.  Adkins and his partners Daniel and Amanda Burt combined their resources to purchase the foreclosed complex from a bank.

Trevecca student volunteers have helped renovate the complex.

So far building costs are estimated at $700,000.

The Trevecca Business Alumni Association is campaigning to sponsor the completion of three apartment units, donating $15,000 per unit.

Once tenants occupy the apartment complex, it will become self-sufficient, Adkins said.

There will be a total of 15 units available in the complex. Families can have their own unit and single persons will share with other singles. There will be additional room for a common space, a wood shop and a chapel.

Trevecca students will also be allowed to occupy one to two of the units and will be selected by expressing interest in the project directly to Adkins.

“It’s been really encouraging to see students animated by what we’re about,” Adkins said.  “Trevecca students have spent just as much time over there (at the apartment complex) as anyone.”

The community will be centered on fellowship, gardening and sustainability, Adkins said.

Unlike programs that bring solutions to a neighborhood, Adkins said he is working with neighbors and organizations to find solutions from within the neighborhood.

“The people that are best suited to solve the problems are people who live with those problems 24 hours a day,” Adkins said.  “This is going to be more than a housing unit. We will be living there alongside those who are coming out of homelessness.”

Adkins will partner with Nashville-based Safe Haven, an organization that helps transition homeless families off the street. The apartments will provide supportive and affordable housing for some of Safe Haven’s family graduates while offering additional services to help them live a sustainable life.

“There won’t be any ‘Help Here’ signs, but we will be quietly helping them get jobs, helping them get medical appointments, helping financially, helping them grow gardens and then begin to listen to the people themselves on how they want to help their own condition,” Adkins explained.

Sustainable Measures

The project is not only about living side-by-side with neighbors who need help, but also about gardening as a way to offer a sustainable food source to the community.

Goats, berries and eggs are just a few of the food sources Adkins will grow in the apartment’s sizable yard.

Organic food production is one of Adkins’ specialties. He manages a greenhouse on Trevecca’s campus and a community garden in Chestnut Hill with Chris Farrell, director of medical technology and professor of biology and environment at Trevecca.

Multitudes of flowers, fruit trees and berry bushes are anticipated. A greenhouse has been assembled and will soon house plants, fruits and vegetables.

“We’re trying to plant as big a variety as possible so we can always have fruit coming in,” Adkins said.

Adkins has used sustainable measures throughout the building’s renovation. He has salvaged old windows while recycling much of the discarded building materials.

Adkins also created organic plaster. A concoction of hydrated lime, water, sand and clay was applied to both the exterior and interior walls instead of the commonly used commercial alternative.

“This type of earthen plaster has been used for thousands of years. It has many advantages; from heat retention, to humidity control, to toxicity to pests, such as termites, because of the lime,” Adkins wrote on his blog, www.castaneacommunity.wordpress.com.

Adkins said he hopes to help bring betterment to Chestnut Hill through the Castanea community.

“We could fill the place with anyone, but we really want the intentional community,” Adkins said.

How to Help

To volunteer or send donations, contact Jason Adkins at 615.812.3291 or jadkins@trevecca.edu.

 

Birds of Hope: two girls go beyond the fad

Posted by admin March - 14 - 2011 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Brooklyn Lindsey –

Here’s proof. Social Justice isn’t a fad. It’s what happens when we spend time in the
presence of God.

Dear Brooklyn,

Thanks so much for all you have done for Birds of Hope! You have really help to spread

Birds of Hope (Taken from facebook.com/birdsofhope)

the word and encourage us to keep going! I can still remember the Wednesday night
that Allyson and I shared our ideas with you. Like us, you were so excited and had
all the faith in the world that it would work out! The Facebook page was a brilliant
idea. Just yesterday, someone found out about Bird of Hope as she was browsing
online! And then as Allyson and I nervously went up on stage to talk to the church, it
was comforting to know you were with us. For all this and more, I just wanted to say
thanks! Love, Emily (January 2010)

Is Biblical social justice a fad among young people? It’s notes like these that lead me
to believe that there is a transcending culture that exists above fads—it’s a Jesus
culture and our teenagers want to be a part of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Nicaraguan prisoner tells his story at Trevecca

Posted by admin November - 11 - 2010 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

Gringo Nightmare

Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua

Katie Schimmelpfennig-

A local man who spent a year in a Nicaraguan prison after what he calls a wrongful conviction of murder and rape told his story Tuesday to about 60 Trevecca students.

Eric Volz, 31, said he was falsely convicted of the rape and murder of an ex-girlfriend by the Nicaragua government in 2007.

Since his release a year later, Volz has written a book, Gringo Nightmare: A Young American Framed for Murder in Nicaragua.

According to Volz, he was a political prisoner for over a year, in a larger game for the Nicaragua government.  Volz’s story gained international news media attention, which gave the Nicaraguan government even more power, he said.

The Nicaraguan people believe Volz was guilty and their media portrayed him as so, he said.

“I was kidnapped by the Nicaragua government,” Volz said.

The Nicaraguan government put Volz in jail for a maximum sentencing of 30 years, though 10 witnesses testified he was two hours from the crime scene and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

“The trial was a sham.  It really was just a show,” Volz said. Read the rest of this entry »

Nazarene missionary turns bamboo into bikes

Posted by admin March - 28 - 2010 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

Adam Wadding–

Phil Webb with his sons Micah and Jeremy build a bamboo bike. (Photo by Phil Webb)--

While riding his bike through the countryside of Northern Thailand, Phil Webb asked the Lord to show him a way to help the struggling people of Thailand.

As he continued riding, Webb couldn’t help but notice the abundant amount of wild bamboo flourishing along the roadsides. That’s when he felt the Holy Spirit telling him to turn that bamboo into bicycles for Thailand’s poor.

“By teaching and training the people in need how to build these bikes themselves, the funding gained by selling them can meet (their) needs,” Webb explains.

Webb, a member of Greenville First Church of the Nazarene in Greenville, South Carolina, has been serving as a missionary in Thailand since 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

Trevecca community gathers supplies for Haiti

Posted by admin March - 19 - 2010 - Friday ADD COMMENTS

Morgan Daniels–

Students put together car packages to send to Haiti. (Photo by Morgan Daniels.)--

Trevecca students, faculty and staff, with the help of the local community, have donated around $800 and supplied items for more than 300 care kits to be sent to Haiti.

In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the capital of the impoverished nation in January, the Trevecca community has been eager to find ways to offer relief to Haitians.

Most of the university’s efforts have been coordinated through the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice.

The Center, with help from the Office of the Chaplain, partnered with Heart to Heart International, an organization that specializes in disaster relief through the use of medical supplies, in order to provide care kits that will accompany the medical supplies delivered to Haiti. Read the rest of this entry »