news-category: Faith and Service

Gardner-Webb Mission Team Provides Medical Care for Refugees in Athens, Greece

A collage featuring a group photo of the mission team and a student listening to a patient's heart and lungs

While Practicing Nursing Skills, Students Shared Their Faith with Patients

By Ashley Rich, ’26, Intern for University Communications

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A team consisting of two Gardner-Webb University faculty members and seven students traveled to Athens, Greece, to provide medical care for refugees from the surrounding area. For eight days in May 2023, the GWU mission team collaborated with local missionaries to help and encourage the people in need of care. Each member of the team shared that they walked away from the trip having learned something about their faith, themselves, and the impact that their service can have on the lives of others.

“Our team provided basic health care during the medical clinics, which included glucose screenings, vital sign assessments, vision screenings, physical assessments, health education, and resolution of minor health concerns for approximately 140 refugees of all ages from multiple countries,” said Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Nicole Waters. “The Student Nurses’ Association and the students’ home churches assisted the team in gathering supplies, then the team made personal hygiene kits before the trip. The kits were provided to all refugees seen in the medical clinics.”

Along with providing medical treatment, the mission team used their time in Greece as an opportunity to engage with their patients on matters of faith, swapping testimonies and communicating with the assistance of a translator. Giving assistance and care through refugee medical clinics allowed the GWU team to express their faith through action and aid for others.

“Our first clinic day was in a town south of Athens at a small Christian center. While this was a slow day patient-wise, we spoke with several refugees who shared their testimonies. For me, it was incredibly eye-opening to hear how God was working at this Christian center as well as working to change people’s hearts,” Amelia Borders remarked. “The language barrier was our biggest issue, but our translators were incredibly helpful; plus, our team got very used to non-verbal communication.”

Spending time abroad with such a diverse group of people allowed those on the GWU mission team to get a glimpse into the experiences of people of faith to which they might have otherwise been oblivious. “Looking back at the trip, I think the most meaningful part was learning how privileged we are to be able to go to practice faith freely. Many of the people we encountered had come from cultures where they would be killed if they practiced a faith other than what was accepted,” Borders expressed. “While in America people might disagree with you and yell at you for having different opinions or faith, the likelihood of being killed for those differences is much less than what was experienced by the patients we cared for.”

For the student participants, this mission trip not only served as an enriching spiritual experience, but also proved beneficial in a professional sense. The work in these medical clinics gave the student participants the time to grow their medical prowess and to improve patient care.

“I am so thankful for the way that God moved through us and through those we interacted with. I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember, and I never would have thought my calling would also turn into a way to share God’s word,” Jenna McKee said.

Both the faculty leaders and students came out of this summer mission trip having gained memories and experiences for the growth of their spiritual, academic, and professional abilities. “It is a tremendous blessing to serve with students to provide care to refugees. Providing care and compassion to those who are often overlooked or ignored by those in their community is a humbling experience. Having the opportunity to show God’s love to others with students is life changing,” Professor of Nursing Dr. Candice Rome commented about the trip.

Student Team Members:

  • Amelia Borders
  • Madison Greene
  • Elsa Krueger
  • Emma Langley
  • Dakota Lavander
  • Jenna McKee
  • Allison Shortridge

Writer Ashley Rich is a Gardner-Webb English major from Etowah, N.C.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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