News - Students Attend Faith and International Development Conference

Students Attend Faith and International Development Conference

Students Attend Faith and International Development Conference

"It is always interesting and encouraging to learn about what the capital 'C' Church is doing in the world," observed Greenville College junior Denee Menghini. She had just returned from the 8th Annual Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC) held in Grand Rapids, MI.  

Denee was one of a dozen students to accompany Dustin Fenton, GC's director of leadership development, at the four-day event hosted by Calvin College earlier this month. The conference typically showcases the breadth and depth of the Church's reach in response to issues like poverty, injustice, and conflict.

"I value finding what helps and what hurts a community that you are trying to help," said senior Nicole Barks, a second-year participant in the FIDC. Upon her return to campus, memories linger of the documentary she saw that recounted the beginnings of the organization Come Let's Dance - four young men near her age, using their varied talents to serve the less fortunate in Uganda.

"I love seeing how it doesn't take anything special to do something for someone," remarked Nicole. "It takes the love from God and the will to do His will."

About 300 students and faculty leaders representing more than 30 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and Canada gathered for this year's conference, titled "From Here to Shalom: Participating in God's Plan for Universal Flourishing." This year's event focused on the economic and health perspectives of international development. Attendees listened to presentations and participated in breakout sessions that covered a range of topics including the environment, peacemaking, healthcare, and advocacy.

Students from Calvin College plan and organize all aspects of the conference keeping a student audience in mind. They invite speakers who are development practitioners serving nonprofit and government agencies. They also integrate networking opportunities into the schedule so students can meet and converse with potential employers about their ministries and opportunities for service. Representatives from about 25 non-government organizations attended this year's event.

The cornerstone of the FIDC is built on the faith that the redeemed in Christ are called to be his hands and feet throughout the world. Denee offered a spot-on summation: it is "going and doing in hopes of making God's kingdom manifest on earth." 

The prospect of participating in that commission warmed the spirits of GC's conference participants, even in the deep freeze of a Grand Rapids winter.

This story was published on February 18, 2013

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