JOB Ministries: more than a job

At the Campus Ministries office in the Ad Building, there is a constant buzz of activity. Workers and their teams sit around tables and computers planning the next worship activity. Students hang out on the comfy couches and a rocking chair with a massaging seat cover.

The telephone rings. “Good-Morning-this-is-Campus-Ministries-how-may-we-help-you?” A student worker, fitting it all in one breath.

She reaches for a purple form and a pen as she Aha, Mhms with the person on the other line.

“Okay, what’s your name, ma’am? Mhm. So you need help moving?” A pause. “When do you need our help?” Another pause. “Okay, ma’am, and your telephone number?” She repeats the number out loud as she writes it down. “Okay, I will pass this on and we will have students out there helping you. Mhm. Yes. You’re very welcome! You have yourself a good day!”

The purple form is then filled out. Name, number, address. Help needed: Check the “moving” box. Any special notes: side door is preferred.  Date needed by: next Wednesday. Then the form is folded in half and placed on the box marked “JOB.”

The next Wednesday, a group of students jump on a truck on their way to help the old lady move.

This is JOB Ministries in action. Begun seven years ago, students named the program with a double entendre to both express what they do (work hard) and why they do it, to be the sort of support the biblical Job needed in his time of trouble but didn't get from his friends—friendship and compassion without lectures or blame. “We implemented this program because a lot of people that call don’t have a support system,” said Garrett McLarty, a Union graduate who originally organized the program, in a 2010 interview. “They call because they don’t have a brother, sister, or even a close friend to help them move. The goal of Job Ministries is to be their family in Christ, offer them a hand and show them that they are not alone.”

“I went out with JOB a couple times while Ray Daugherty was the director,” says Josh Hester, junior theology major and last semester’s director. “I enjoyed it, and when the new school year started, I was hired because Campus Ministries knew I liked outreach.” Hester finds that community service helps to get to know the surrounding areas. “This is a great way to talk to people,” he explains. “We get to form bonds in our community.”

A community member who is in need of assistance can call the Campus Ministries office to receive the help. Although JOB ministries focuses on any kind of community service, the majority of the calls that the office answers are for help moving. “During last semester, we tried to add more projects,” says Hester.

Hester worked alongside Inonge Kasaji, junior social work major, to focus on making service accessible to more students by creating a new web application. “On the website, we allow people to choose from long-term as well as short-term service projects,” says Hester.

“This way not only can service calls be put in through the office but also through the website. Student involvement also becomes easier,” explains Kasaji. “On the website, there are several service projects featured and students can sign up for the ones they want to help out with.”

“This allows students with specific skill sets to help out in projects where their expertise can be better used,” adds Hester.

When a student the first to sign up for a given project, that student is then made a team leader. Says Kasaji, “The leader is then in charge of recruiting a team of students to help out with the project.” This process also ensures that more student involvement happens and word of mouth can help the ministry. The webpage is complete, and Campus Ministries is working to hosting the page on Union’s website. It should be ready to work by next fall.

Kasaji and Hester worked on having the service projects count towards community service hours required by certain majors. Still, the main point of the ministry is not to fit the student’s needs—rather, providing for the community’s.

“We want to work closer with local organizations as well,” says Hester. “Tiny Hands International, People’s City Mission, and Friendship home are some we want to be more involved in.”

Kasaji agrees. “This is all about helping people. We took on the motto of this year’s Project Impact and applied it to outreach for the entire year: Saturate Lincoln.” The objective is to be involved with every aspect of the Lincoln community at large.

This semester, the baton passed from Kasaji and Hester to Anna Coridan, a senior nursing student. Coridan is also the Nursing liaison to Campus Ministries. As a liaison, her role is to connect the Nursing division to Campus Ministries by providing resources to Nursing students to become involved. She is taking this responsibility seriously.

“In the Nursing division we have students from the community and many are not Adventist, so the main question I brought in this semester is ‘how can I bring spirituality into the Nursing division?’” says Coridan. “I love working with people outside, in the community. And I think that bringing opportunities to work in the community would be the best to the Nursing division.”

Her vision is to empower Nursing students to engage in community service more often. She acknowledges that at first, community work can be daunting, but in the end it is highly rewarding.

“As a nursing student, I’m busy more often than not, and this can lead to me focusing on myself too much,” she says. “I start focusing on how busy or behind or tired I am, and I have to realize that I need a new focus.”

For Coridan, the best way to change the mindset is getting involved with others. “I love working with people in the community. I think it’s very eye-opening. Service, if done selflessly, also feels good in the end.”

As JOB Ministries works on reinventing themselves, they look forward to adding more opportunities. Coridan and both Kasaji and Hester know that getting people involved is hard. If a team mentality and a spirit of ministry drive the program, however, Kasaji is optimistic. “I think others will be able to see something else, something different, and hopefully we can make this something larger than it is now.”