Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aruhah: Awareness and Prayer for the Hungry and Thirsty

By Rebekah Connell ’15

While in high school, McKenzie Watson ’15 remembers being asked, “If you could remedy anything in the world, what would it be?” A daunting question, but McKenzie didn’t hesitate to answer, “I want everyone to have clean drinking water.” This issue has remained close to McKenzie’s heart for much of her life. “The world is filled with needs and injustices, a smorgasbord of causes to lobby for,” she says. “Access to clean drinking water is the most basic. People die every day from not having their most basic needs met. And to me, that is absolutely crazy.”

Since coming to Gordon, McKenzie, a biblical studies major, has sought the means to bring her passion for hunger and thirst to the campus community. Steph Clark ’15, a social work major, recently joined forces with McKenzie, and the two have brought to life a brand-new ministry called Aruhah—Hebrew for “meal.”

Aruhah works to transform, bringing awareness of the world’s needs to its members and to the campus as a whole. McKenzie points out, “As college students, we don’t have extra cash on hand, and while money is important, limiting our ‘charity’ to financial giving isolates us from those we hope to partner with.” Aruhah’s ministry at Gordon broadens this concept of charity, promoting practical activism—“seeking ways to be conscious of how our daily actions affect the global community.”

Alongside its focus on awareness, Aruhah is a ministry rooted in prayer. “We believe that prayer actually changes things,” says McKenzie, “We are choosing to activate our belief that prayer is important and effective.”

These two ideas—awareness an prayer—are closely linked within the ministry. “Steph and I are both really convicted that if we act before we are properly informed, we could do more damage than good,” McKenzie explains. “We’re seeking to be informed so that when we act, we can do so in a responsible way.” But on the flipside, she adds, “Being informed is of no merit if we don’t do anything with what we know.”

Each Saturday, Aruhah meets to discuss worldwide hunger and thirst, and to pray for the needs of millions around the globe. The discussion involves brainstorming ways to apply what the group is learning, and planning events to cultivate awareness on a personal and campus-wide level. “The entire second half of the meeting is devoted to prayer for those who do not have enough food or access to clean water,” McKenzie says. “Prayer is the work of the ministry.”

McKenzie and Steph have seen their passion for hunger and thirst expand from an idea to a growing ministry, but the biggest challenge for them has, perhaps surprisingly, been finding time for the group to do its work. “Gordon is a college brimming with smart, engaging students who have a passion for what God is doing in the world,” McKenzie says. “But a significant portion of us are battling overcommitment.” The leaders of Aruhah definitely understand students’ tendency to spread themselves too thin. “It’s hard being another good ministry in a sea of good ministries,” she says.

But that’s where passion for the cause takes over. “I really believe that Aruhah is God’s vision, because this is something close to his heart,” says McKenzie. It’s close to both of these student leaders’ hearts, too. “Caring about the needs of others makes us vulnerable,” McKenzie says, “because caring about anything makes us vulnerable. I want Gordon students to consider our fellow human beings around the globe worthy of that vulnerability.”

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Want to get involved with Aruhah, or just find out more? Email aruhah@gordon.edu, or either leader at mckenzie.watson@gordon.edu or steph.clark@gordon.edu.

Meetings are Saturdays at 4 pm in the Lion’s Den, Lane Student Center.

Photo: Steph Clark ’15 (left) and McKenzie Watson (right).

Rebekah Connell ’15 is an English major from New York and student writer for the Office of College Communications.

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