The sky was blue and full of sunshine on September 29 as the busyness of the day unfolded. On Multnomah’s campus, about 30 graduate and seminary students were gathering for Day of Prayer. Off campus, 150 undergraduate students were serving the neighboring community for Day of Outreach.
'A great connector'
Once every fall and spring, undergraduate students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit, a community center, a school. Even a MAX station. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.
The commuters waiting to ride the nearby MAX Light Rail brightened up as Multnomah students offered them steaming cups of coffee and fresh donuts. Freshman Megan Flikkema loved the opportunity to brush shoulders with people she wouldn’t normally meet.
“It’s a great connector,” she said. “It’s an easy way to pass out breakfast and talk about Jesus.” Flikkema was right: Many students took time to engage in meaningful conversations with people they encountered, listening intently to their life stories.
Summit student Trevor Grant saw Day of Outreach as a way to respond: “In the last three months, I’ve really been convicted about how much we’re called to help out in the community,” said the freshman. “So [Day of Outreach] is good timing.”
'Faith without works is nothing'
Not far down the road from the MAX station, another group of students wandered through the Montavilla neighborhood, praying for their neighbors while they searched for trash littering the yards, gutters and sidewalks. Although a seemingly small act, the residents responded positively. One man even hollered his sincere thanks from his car before turning onto the busy street.
“It’s important, especially at Multnomah, to get out into the community,” said Brittany Bowling, a business and organizational psychology major.
Hebrew major Darren Warren stuffed some litter from the street gutter into a large plastic bag. “Faith without works is nothing,” said the freshman. “Being the hands and feet of God is precisely what God is all about.” You could tell Warren meant every word — he looked eager to support the event’s mission.
'God weaves our stories'
Back on campus, graduate and seminary students were gathered together for a morning of prayer and fellowship. Daytime classes were cancelled so students could step back from studies and set aside time dedicated to seeking God. The quaint and quiet prayer chapel proved to be the perfect setting for the event.
Master of Divinity student Aimee Pahl was the organizer for Day of Prayer. She was deeply encouraged by what took place during the prayer time, and was especially impressed by students’ vulnerability as they lifted each other’s requests to the Lord. “[God] weaves our stories so that we understand each other, especially when we’re praying for one another,” she said.
The three-hour prayer session brought Kā‘ili Wells some much needed peace. “I just needed to reconnect with God,” said the seminary student. “I needed worshipful, prayerful rest.” Wells also mentioned the importance of creating a time and a place for seminary and graduate students to come together; with their schedules, it can be easy for them to become exclusive.
Although there has been a lot going on in Wells' life, he left Day of Prayer feeling refreshed. “It’s funny, because I’m tired,” he said, chuckling. “But I also feel rejuvenated.” The power of prayer does some amazing things.