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Senior’s Compassion Grows Through Internships

Emily Phillips on Mount Olympus
University News

When student Emily Phillips went to Greece to intern with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries in the Syrian refugee camps, she wasn’t expecting her biggest lesson to be about receiving compassion.

“As long as I’m the one giving, I’m still in power. I don’t have to be vulnerable. But if I’m going to do compassionate ministry, I have to put myself on a level with the people I’m ministering to,” says Emily.

Emily got the opportunity to climb Mount Olympus during her time in Greece.

An MNU senior with a double major in English and Intercultural Studies, Emily says the experience working with the refugees changed the way she views compassionate ministries. Her job wasn’t to provide food or clothing or shelter. She was just supposed to focus on connecting on a human level.

“All around them, people are seeing [refugees] as only villains, or only victims. We wanted to go in and treat them like people – which is just what they are,” says Emily, adding that she spent her days playing chess or teaching the children to swim, or just sharing stories.

The internship most directly used her Intercultural Studies major, but Emily thinks her courses in English helped her articulate her experience.

“The English major helps me know how to articulate what needs to be said. It’s about being creative, being a storyteller,” she says.

Emily’s storytelling skills are also coming into play with her new internship this semester, heading up donor engagement and the social media component of The Justice Movement. The Justice Movement is the social justice arm of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Nazarene Youth International, and their current project is bringing clean water to Sri Lanka. The program is called Just Water, and Phillips says it is designed to give Millennials a chance to get involved with compassionate ministries by giving them the tools to plan events for themselves.

“The initiative is all about enabling teens to change the world,” she says.

So far, the Just Water project (which celebrated its first anniversary in July 2016), has raised almost $70,000 and boasts participants in 11 different countries. They are easily on track to meet their $100,000 goal.

Even though she’s juggling ten hours of work with The Justice Movement, two other jobs, and her senior year of classes, Emily is loving her work, and is grateful for the preparation her education has given her.

“My training in theology has helped so much with both internships,” she says. “With that and my English classes, I’m really able to communicate our mission and my heart for compassionate ministry.”

To find out more about The Justice Movement, visit their website at: To hear more about Emily Phillips’ experience in Greece, check out her blog: 


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