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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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How firm a foundation: Fostering hearts for service in the world

Seniors reflect on right relationship ministry

There’s a relational shift that comes with the end of each school year.

Whether goodbyes are said for the summer or for graduation, there’s a bittersweetness to each spring semester. Yet the call to community, to right relationships with others, demands endurance.

Beyond just the Taylor bubble, students’ commitment to both the secular, local workplace and their heart for the globe echoes that call — seniors are especially preparing to live that out.

“My heart is discipleship,” senior Rylie Pine, an intercultural studies major, said. “The first class where I learned about global Christianity and atrocities to women across the world … really spurred my heart for these things.”

It led Pine to switch from her initial major in environmental science to what she feels is her calling as a missionary.

While still a student at Taylor, Pine traveled to Costa Rica, an experience that deeply confirmed her desire to help female trafficking survivors. Now, as she graduates, her plan is to continue to seek opportunities that will allow her to help women in need, first in the states, then once again abroad.

Her ministry has more than just an evangelical focus, however. Right relationships and a right understanding of love are at the forefront of Pine’s idea of service.

“My passion is sharing with these women (that) their worth is in the Lord alone, not in their past. It's not in their present; it’s not in what has happened to them,” Pine said. “(It’s) not anything that they could do, or haven't done. It’s only in Jesus … And I know that the same Jesus that loves me loves them, and I want to share that.”

That relational love is what led senior Thiago Camacho to add on to his sociology major, now double majoring with Taylor’s global studies program. 

Though the coursework is often more theoretical than hands-on, Camacho’s practicums have given him opportunities to locally reach underserved populations.

“I generally have a heartbeat for minority groups,” he explained. “My sophomore summer, I worked for World Relief Chicago. They do refugee resettlement and asylum intake. And so I was involved in the legal process of that and also very much the physical process of moving people into houses and helping them find jobs [and] language learning.”

More recently, Camacho has worked with the Indiana Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health, building awareness for inequalities in healthcare. 

Like Pine, Camacho’s understanding of God has been deeply challenged through his work. As Pine has learned how vast the love of God is, wide enough to care for both the abused and the abuser, Camacho has realized the depth of inclusion and identification God gives to the oppressed.

It’s a concept senior Hojun Yun has put into practice as well. Simply seeing people, loving them the way the Lord does, is its own form of ministry. 

While Yun may not have a direct ministerial tie within his exercise science major, his leadership as a presidential fellow and as a mentor figure on the Trojans’ football team speaks volumes in relational ministry.

“The biggest thing is to love others and make sure that they make sure that they feel loved so that they question, ‘Where do you get this validation from?’” Yun said. “It's an opportunity where you can spread the gospel and spread how you've been loved by Jesus and changed by Jesus.”

Students at Taylor are called to live differently. They’re called to serve differently, but most importantly, they’re called to be in community with intention. The love of Taylor is meant to reflect the love of Christ, so that, as goodbyes come around, what remains in students’ absence is their legacy of love: right relationships built on the foundation of Christ.