CBU surpasses 5,000 mark for volunteers

Published May 29, 2019

RIVERSIDE — On May 5 California Baptist University hosted a celebration for 5,000-plus International Service Project (ISP) volunteers, at the Kugel in the university’s Great Commission Plaza.

This year marks the 23rd of mobilization efforts at CBU.

Per university tradition, before an ISP team’s departure, students, along with their family and friends, gather to pray at the Kugel, a globe that rests on a base with the words from Matthew 28:19-20 etched in stone.

Ronald Ellis, CBU president, emphasized that the school is a “Great Commission university.”

“CBU is a university committed to the Great Commission and the ISP projects are a way to actualize this calling,” he explained. “What is etched in the Kugel is who we are.”

This summer nearly 300 volunteers, comprising 35 teams, will serve in 25 countries. Seven teams departed from CBU as part of the first wave of volunteers, en route to Southeast Asia, Poland, South Africa and Eastern Europe.

The teams will conduct theater and sports camps, assist with health care and seek to create culture interactions.

Jeff Lewis, director of mobilization for CBU, said he prays the students will have many conversations about the gospel.

Participants received more than 75 hours of training to prepare for service opportunities, including an “intensive training weekend” that simulates situations to engage in service and gospel conversations.

ISP students will serve on three types of teams, depending on previous experience and their time commitment. Encounter teams are open to all participants, who serve up to three weeks. Engagement teams also go for three weeks, and Immersion teams serve for eight weeks. The latter two are only for returning ISP students.

Andreas Coppedge-Calderon, an electrical and computer engineering junior, was identified as the 5,000th ISP participant. His team is going to Southeast Asia to conduct basketball camps and play games against local college teams.

“I read God’s Word and it tells me to go and preach the gospel to the world,” Coppedge-Calderon said. “I’ve never deliberately done that, so here at CBU I decided to dive into the ISP program. I’ve learned through my training that God will use my story to help others.”

Though in the past the university has sponsored teams of students to serve in the United States — called Summer of Service — this year’s focus is on international ministries.