Acquiring a passion to serve

Last Updated 31 March, 2016

by McCrea Nirider, class of 2016

A ripple effect occurs when a single event causes a pervasive and unexpected impact. Saying “yes” to attending NNU four years ago was like dropping a rock into a huge body of water, creating a ripple that continues to carry me farther than I could have imagined. NNU’s mission is to develop students into creative, redemptive agents in the world. I knew that here I would learn, grow and leave prepared to put my degree—and subsequent career—to use for good; but, I had no idea how much the people and the opportunities here would challenge and encourage me to engage in creative and redemptive work before I even graduated.

In May 2014, as a sophomore, I went with NNU on a Mission to Haiti and served at Hope Home, an orphanage for children with disabilities. I thought I had prepared myself for what I was going to see and experience, having read over a thousand pages about Haiti—the culture, the political situation, the poverty—and having grown up around kids with special needs. Books are a great place to start, but I quickly found they are hardly a substitute for stepping into the reality of others and learning firsthand.

As we painted and played, I caught glimpses of the daily challenges of life at Hope Home. I detested the injustice I saw, but feeling powerless to make a dent in issues I knew extended far beyond the doors of Hope Home, I made excuses. I told myself: “This is just how life is for them. It isn’t fair, but it’s what they have to deal with.” Dealing with what I was seeing would mean being uncomfortable and possibly being asked to do something about it—something I felt unequipped to do.

I thank God for my teammates and my hosts, who shared my overwhelming burden and participated in a heart-opening response. Our host Liz Schandorff, a Mission Aviation Fellowship missionary, responded to our feelings with encouragement and a call to action: “You can’t do everything for everyone, but you can do for one what you wish you could do for all.”

When we returned to NNU in the fall, team members Lukas Rieke (’15), Kassandra Johnson (’15), Rachel Ball (class of 2016) and I chose to tackle the overwhelming water problem we had witnessed at Hope Home. As we discussed how to go about this, I was always the hesitant one—confident in my skills in the classroom and on the soccer field, but not so sure I had what was needed to gather up thousands of dollars for an orphanage. Yet again, I thank God for those around me—the staff and students at NNU who offered their time, experience and knowledge. These were the people who showed me what can happen when we say “yes” to God’s work, even if we don’t have it all figured out yet. What started as simple fundraising efforts turned into a campus and community wide educational and fundraising campaign we dubbed “Ripple Effect”—made possible through a grant awarded by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

In May 2015, I returned to Haiti with NNU on a Mission. Faced with the same realities but open to fully experiencing every high and low the trip would hold, I carried myself differently. I still struggled to accept that, for now, there’s nothing I can do to fix the underlying causes of the problems I saw, but I found peace and encouragement in the evident reality that with Christ in us, there is so much power to transform.

One small “yes” has had unbelievable impact. What started as a short trip to serve in Haiti turned into a yearlong campaign for Hope Home, a return trip to Haiti, and now an emerging non-profit created to collaborate with and empower Hope Home and places like it.

I anxiously await continuing my education and sharing my profession with the world in meaningful ways, but through my trips to Haiti and my time at NNU, I’ve seen that simply being present and saying “yes” to the adventures God has planned can make a huge difference. I’ve acquired a passion to learn about His people through relationships with them and by experiencing their realities.

This August I say “yes” to the next adventure, an 11-month missional journey to serve in 11 different countries (worldrace.org). God continues to carry me on the wave of the ripple effect, and I know—ready or not—He will use me as long as I make myself available.


McCrea sorts photos from her trips to Haiti. Follow her next adventure at mccreanirider.theworldrace.org.