EMU Students Hear About Importance of Service and Sacrifice

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

Students and staff gathered in Lehman Auditorium Wednesday for Eastern Mennonite University's fall convocation.

Students heard about the importance of a liberal arts education and prayed for the coming school year, but they also heard about one issue that will carry a strong message this year.

Glen Lapp, a former EMU student, was doing mission work for a Christian organization in rural Afghanistan when his group of ten was ambushed and killed.

The story of Lapp's life and death is something EMU President Loren Swartzendruber says the students need to hear.

"Well I wanted them to know that our graduates are serving and leading in a global context, and I can tell real stories about that. Sometimes it's dangerous," says Swartzendruber.

Dr. Ann Hershberger has traveled internationally herself, as well as with students, to dangerous areas during dangerous times.

"You have to say is the good that I can do greater than the potential danger that there is," asks Hershberger.

Swartzendruber and Hershberger say service and sacrifice are part of the faith commitment, and it starts with education.

"Most importantly I think it's an expression of our faith and the understanding that an education is not just for me, it's not for my own sake alone, but it is in service," says Swartzendruber.

"And the call is very strong to represent love to other people, to care for the human need and to respond, especially in places where there is the most need and others are not responding," says Hershberger.

While a dangerous situation last month took the lives of two local college graduates, Swartzendruber says he hopes it doesn't deter others from continuing to serve.

"If we can figure out ways to respond in forgiveness and continue serving, that is a message I think all of us can embrace," says Swartzendruber.

He says that while some of these humanitarian efforts may seem frightening to some, he says the reality is if you take your faith seriously, you'll find ways to express that, even in dangerous situations.

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