Blog — 10th May 2023
Inhabit Programme Students Make a Difference for Refugees in Poland
While many students were enjoying their Spring Break holiday, a group of NTC students participating in the Inhabit programme embarked on an early morning flight to Przemyśl, Poland.
Their mission was to help refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine as they arrived at Przemyśl, a border town where major train lines intersect. Students were tasked with greeting, helping, and directing refugees towards local refugee camps or trains toward other camps to begin their new lives.
For this mission trip, NTC partnered with Nazarene Compassion Ministries since they were already ministering in Przemyśl. NCM provided housing, training, and safeguarding instructions to the NTC students and other volunteers. After receiving language and safeguarding training, the students worked 2-3 hour shifts in the afternoon and evening, waiting by the stairs to help direct people to trains or offer other assistance as needed.
Many of these refugees were vulnerable, especially women, children, and the elderly. In order to better cater to their needs, NTC students helped out at a NCM managed safe space where refugees could warm up, have food and warm drinks, and access hygiene products like soap that they may not have had in the aftermath of recent bombings. The students also assisted with carrying luggage up and down the stairs, taking people to passport control, distributing toys and snacks to children, and handing out handwarmers to adults. Their ministry offered caring support to those most in need.
NTC students also assisted those returning to Ukraine. These people were taking food, medical supplies, or other goods back to family or others who were in need. NTC students were able to minister to them on their journey and help them however they could.
As you might imagine, doing ministry on the border of Ukraine is quite complex. The Polish Army interviewed and approved every volunteer, and had daily check-ins with the group. The army also informed the group of new bombings. New bombings created new refugees, and they learned to expect large groups of refugees two or three days after new bombing in need of assistance, headed towards the nearest refugee camps in Germany.
To process all of this, students and volunteers had reflections together each evening, reflecting spiritually on the service that they had done that day as well as the deep, impactful emotions of the situation.
Theology in Action
The key take-away experience for NTC students was the practical experience that added to their academic studies. They provided practical help to those in need without seeking anything in return, putting their faith into action by providing both pastoral care and social justice to those most in need.
This was, for NTC students and for the recipients of their service, truly theology in action. And those acts of services won’t soon be forgotten.
NTC’s Inhabit programme is a cohort of MA students from around the world living together in community and participating in the Inhabit Rule of Life. Following in the tradition of monastic communities across Christian history, living according to a “rule” gives shape, structure, and practices to the formation of Christian community and witness.
Inhabit is comprised of three streams – study, formation, and witness. The study stream is rather straight forward: students enroll in one of thirteen pathways for the MA in Theology. Their cohort develops common study rhythms, and, in time, students participate in teaching and research assistantships. Within the formation stream, students participate in a wide range of Christian spiritual disciplines: morning and evening prayer and contemplation, spiritual pilgrimages, and weekly society meetings. Finally, the witness stream focuses on students serving NTC and the greater Manchester community for 2-4 hours per week. Students partner with local churches and the chaplaincy team for tasks without and within the NTC community.
Our programme director, Revd Dr Jacob Lett would love to welcome our second cohort, explaining, “Inhabit will provide an opportunity for MA students from around the world and from different Christian traditions to participate in the richness and diversity of Christian spiritual practices and to do so in the context of intentional community and service.”