Northwest Nazarene University students were challenged in a theology course to express “supererogatory” acts of love, which requires a person to go above and beyond the usual. The following students proposed extraordinary plans to express love to those in need.
Amy Higginson, Longview, Wash., crusader volleyball player, responded to the challenge by volunteering her time as a junior high volleyball coach. Amy’s team consisted of players needing extra practice after having been cut from the seventh grade “B” team. She sensed a need to spend additional time working with one girl in particular who lacked enthusiasm and confidence. “I made it my personal goal to get to know this girl. If possible, I wanted to share my own story because volleyball has taken me places in life when nothing else seemed promising,” said Amy. Over the season, the young girl improved and Amy could easily see a transformation in both volleyball skills and personal confidence. Amy completed the season with a team of players who had improved their skills and deepened friendships.
Vickie Garcia, Nampa, Idaho, met the supererogatory challenge by creating an online group titled Idaho’s Networking and Assistance for Children and Adults with Disabilities. She pulled together group members who had a desire to advocate for those with disabilities through MySpace, Facebook and Twitter advertisements. “The group was hard to start,” said Vickie of the experience. “There are many rules for starting a group. I had to keep people involved and keep the conversation going.” However, her efforts paid off and were easily spotted in one case of an unemployed parent who contacted Vickie about a problem with the school at which her child with a disability attended. The school would no longer provide assistance. Vickie contacted the school and pointed out that 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires schools to work with disabled children. Her efforts convinced the school to find ways to help the child.
Katherine Johnson, Caldwell, Idaho, nursing student undergoing field experience at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, planned her extraordinary love in response to a need she discovered at work. Katherine learned that a coworker and husband were facing challenges and anxieties due to pregnancy. The soon-to-be parents were worried that they lacked the information and emotional preparation to succeed as parents. She decided to create a parenting and childcare class for her coworker and husband, and met with the couple to talk about what to expect. “You can’t say thank you enough to someone who has helped you feel like a better parent,” said the couple after completing the classes. “This experience has changed our lives in a way that we are now more confident and comfortable as parents.”
Another student’s project was centered on her own family. Extended family members were yet to resolve a quarrel from previous years. After going their own separate ways, this student took initiative to reach out to the disconnected members and encourage healing of the deep relationship wounds. Through this project, the student was able to write letters and share her background including updates. To her surprise, all of the members she had reached out to responded with questions and even an invitation for a free flight to visit. Her letter writing had become the much-needed spark for family restoration.
Another student began his love project with the vision to collect canned food for the food bank at Nampa First Church of the Nazarene. After one day of collecting, his plan changed after hearing of a woman struggling to make ends meet. She had gone hungry for two days in order to pay her rent. He decided to give the food he had collected to this woman and drove to her house to anonymously leave the food on the porch. He has continued this routine and said, “To this day I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know that I was the one who left the food. It felt good to help someone in such need and to do it anonymously was a bonus!”
Professor Oord taught his students that society expects its members to do the bare minimum to get along. Society expects people not to steal, murder or lie, but Christian love demands much more. Doing more than the usual is to act in a supererogatory way. Professor Oord created the Extra Mile Project as a way to urge students to plan creative expressions of this love and is pleased with the way his students responded. In these troubled times, going the extra mile can make a significant difference.“It was encouraging to see more than 30 students going the extra mile to help others,” said Professor Oord. “I never cease to be amazed at the creative ways NNU students show Christian love.”