Students gather to perfect development projects

By June 6, 2008

USA (MNN) — Every April, 55 student delegates gather at Northwestern University. Each one has a development project already in process or has plans to start one. 

They are gathering for the week-long Global Engagement Summit.

Ryan Pederson, a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Northwestern, co-directs the Global Engagement Summit. He says it helps by "putting the delegates in a community where they will be challenged to look at how precise their proposals are and how well
suited to the community they are." They also gain "new ideas of how they could expand upon what they're doing."

Sometimes development projects can take a turn for the worse when critical details are overlooked. If the cultural dynamics are tinkered with, or if training is not done after the project implementer leaves, then the project quickly fails.      

During the summit, experts in the non-profit field offer advice. There
are discussions and workshops. The workshops give instruction on anything from project management to community development theories, to grant writing.

Pederson's motivation to get involved in these kinds of events came a few years ago when
he felt God's call to help restore the world. His faith gives him hope as he faces the planning of the summit. But he and other Christians are also witnesses as they help govern change.  "When people see us working very passionately for social change alongside people with very different worldviews, they come to really respect where we get our motivations from. And more so, they care about us being a part of trying, I guess, to do goodwill," Pederson said.

Pederson suggests that Christians pray for the students who are planning the summit. Pray that they can keep the bigger picture in mind and be aware that they are part of the broader picture of social change.

Pray for "the projects that go out from this summit all around the world, that they would be successful; that they would really interact well with communities; that communities throughout the world would really be experiencing positive change because of this movement that we're a part of."

The next summit will be held in early April 2009.

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