This guest post is by Sarah Sanders, a Weinberg junior who’s very committed to exploring the responsibilities of Christians to serve others as a religious duty. Today she writes about how no faith is complete without service.

Every spring break I go on an international mission trip with my campus ministry,
University Christian Ministry. Last year we went to Cuba to be involved with the outreach
projects of a church in Havana. The year before that we went to Guatemala to
explore and help teach at a K-12 school in Xela, Guatemala. Both times before I went,
people asked me why I was going and what we were going to do there. I surprisingly
found that at first I didn’t really have a good answer to either question. I love to travel,
I liked the idea of doing some sort of service work, and I liked the group of people.
Beyond that, I didn’t have a grasp on what was really drawing me toward this or any
other type of faith-related service.

After two years of this, I think I have finally partially figured it out.

Service. Most of the time that word brings up images of giving up time and money,
performing an act of charity, or reaching out to those less fortunate than us. It seems to
entail some sort of personal sacrifice. Of course at the end of the day, it always feels
great—to know that we acted for someone else on that day. To feel that focus shift is
refreshing, renewing, and hard to find in a lot of other places. But why do we do it? Why
do we engage in this act of reaching out? It seems like it might just be easier to sit back
and focus on our own lives before thinking of anyone else.

Faith. I think this is the part that often gets lost in the rush. How often do we step back
and ask ourselves why we’re doing service in the first place? I don’t think that faith is
necessarily the only reason that people want to help or try to change the world… But
for me, faith is the reason that I don’t view service as a once-in-awhile kind of thing
anymore. It’s the reason that I go to these places each spring break and become a part of
what people are doing there.

When we go on these mission trips, we’re not going to change people’s beliefs or even
to build or repair something tangible. We’re going to build something much more
important—relationships. We are there to learn about the work of people who understand
dedication to the world beyond themselves in the deepest way. We’re there to share ideas
and make connections with people in the name of the faith that inspires us to serve.
Service isn’t always a giant project or a monthly donation to a cause.

Service happens every day, every hour, every second you spend extending what you
believe to be God’s grace to someone else. That doesn’t necessarily mean trying to align
other people’s beliefs with your own—it means giving to others the gifts with which you
have been blessed. It doesn’t matter what you believe—the point is that the belief alone
is not enough. Service through faith is seeking to understand and connect with people
that share your goal of improving the world for others. Service through faith is a constant
striving to be selfless, even just through simple acts of grace each day.

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