News & Events
MHC Students Experience Metanoia for Fall Break
While many college students were using their fall break to take a well-deserved vacation from classes, catch up with friends and family, or make up school work, eight students from Mars Hill College used their recent fall break to experience “Metanoia.”
“Metanoia” is a Greek word used several times in the New Testament which means “pushing forward” or “creating positive change.” Metanoia is also the name of a ministry in North Charleston, South Carolina, which has sought to help a community “push forward” by working with residents in the community to tackle social problems from the inside out.
According to student Annie Sutton, this is the third year that a group of students from Mars Hill have gone to work at Metanoia over fall break. As missions chair for the Mars Hill College Christian Student Movement, Sutton was responsible for planning the trip.
“It’s just such a great community and it’s really inspiring to see the work that they do,” Sutton said. “And since we already had a connection there, the fall break trip was just a good way to continue to build community and to continue to build that relationship.”
Although their trip was relatively brief, students from Mars Hill accomplished a lot. They painted the entire interior of house, and then helped tutor children in the Metanoia after school program.
They also got a lesson in the issues faced by residents of North Charleston.
Metanoia Community Development Corporation began in the North Charleston suburb of Chicora Cherokee, and has now expanded into other nearby suburbs. Unlike Charleston proper, North Charleston is an area riddled with poverty and crime. The ministry undertakes to address negative influences in the community by majoring on community assets. Metanoia addresses needs through a housing program that helps renters become home owners in the community; an afterschool program that teaches children to be young leaders and entrepreneurs; and financial education for adults designed to help them make responsible decisions for themselves and their families.
Sutton described the Metanoia model this way: “The whole point of Metanoia is working from the inside out, so instead of coming in and just giving people money or giving food, they are trying to teach them how to take care of themselves and families.”
Metanoia’s housing program involves buying foreclosure homes in the community, fixing them up and then helping community residents buy the home. According to Metanoia, the increase in home ownership automatically decreases the crime rate, because home owners “take ownership” of their community, report crimes, and take steps to keep their neighborhood safe.
Chandler Hill, a freshman member of the Mars Hill team, was impressed with the way the ministry uses a business model to address community needs, and to give children an avenue for success in the future. The centerpiece of the leadership program for children is entrepreneurship programs, he said. While younger children simply enjoy afterschool activities, older boys in the afterschool care program have a t-shirt printing business, and older girls have a jewelry making business.
“Metanoia takes the profits from those businesses, they match them, and they put into fund for scholarships or new venture business startups for the children who are involved in the businesses,” he said.
Hill, a former resident of Charleston, was anxious to participate in the trip. “As soon as I heard that there was a service opportunity in Charleston, I was all on it. And now, I would highly recommend this trip to anyone next year.”
This was the third trip to Metanoia that junior Paige Bedard had made.
“I feel like I could open up my own painting business after all the painting we’ve done!” she said. Bedard, a political science and Spanish major, said those experiences taught her not just how to paint a house, but what kind of impact simple gestures like painting can have on the life of an individual.
“On our first trip, I thought, ‘we’re just painting a house, what kind of impact can that have?’ Bedard said. “But then, the last day we were there painting, the woman who lived there showed up, and she was in tears because a group of students who were strangers to the community had spent their fall break painting her house. That was such an amazing experience, seeing how grateful she was. That trip gave so much more to me than we could ever give to her by painting her house.”
Like Sutton, Bedard has seen and experienced the growing relationship between the residents and staff of Metanoia and Mars Hill college students, and believes that both groups have benefitted from that relationship.
“Over these past three years, I feel like a part of me has become invested in North Charleston. I honestly would have no problem someday working in North Charleston and being a part of what they do there. It’s a program to be proud of,” she said.
In addition to Annie Sutton, Paige Bedard and Chandler Hill, the students from Mars Hill who went on the mission trip to Metanoia were: Breanna Mason, Rachel Connor, Jameson Donnell, Hilary Modlin and Shelby Johnson.