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Missions In Action program receives high ranking and accreditation

Posted: Oct 17, 2013

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Olivet's Missions In Action (M.I.A.) program has been fully reviewed and accredited by The U.S. Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission (SOE), a division of the Alliance for Excellence in Short-Term Mission (AESTM). In all areas evaluated, Olivet’s program met or exceeded the highest best practice standards for quality and excellence established for short-term mission (STM), and demonstrated the highest Christian and moral purpose.

The seven standards of excellence on which Olivet’s program was evaluated are:
1. God-centeredness — Seeking first God’s glory and His kingdom
2. Empowering partnerships — Establishing healthy, interdependent, ongoing relationships between sending and receiving partners
3. Mutual design — Collaboratively planning each specific outreach
4. Comprehensive administration — Exhibiting integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participants
5. Qualified leadership — Screening, training and developing leadership for all participants
6. Appropriate training — Preparing and equipping all participants for a mutually designed outreach
7. Thorough follow-up — Assuring debriefing and appropriate follow-up for all participants

Over a two-year period, the review and evaluation process included the completion of a rigorous peer review assessment. The culmination was an intensive, two-day interview with Jennifer McClellan '91, Olivet’s director of missions and student ministries, who answered additional questions about the program. At the conclusion of the review, she was asked to serve as a member of the SOE steering committee that plans and speaks at mission conferences and reviews other programs for SOE accreditation .

"The accreditation process was a time-consuming challenge but very worth it in the end,” Jennifer says. “We can now say with confidence to our students, families and partners that we are doing everything in our power to make each of our mission trips the best experience possible."

Olivet is only the fifth college or university to apply and be accepted as a full member of SOE. As a member, the University regularly provides documentation and submits to program evaluation by STM experts.

Bill Bahr '96/'02 MBA, now head coach of Olivet’s Tiger women’s soccer, began the M.I.A. program in 1996 with the first University-sponsored mission trip to San Francisco, Calif. The first overseas mission trip was to Israel in 1998.

In the past eight years, a total of 91 M.I.A. trips have given more than 1,300 students the opportunity to serve others. During the 2012-2013 academic year, M.I.A. sponsored 14 mission trips to U.S. areas and overseas locations, including the very first trip to Cuba. More than 200 students and faculty/staff leaders from Olivet served on these trips.

When doors opened in Cuba, Olivet sent the first college mission team. Olivet also sent the first ever college team on a Team World Vision mission trip to Rwanda, which included running a half marathon there. Olivet is the only university in the country with an organized team running with Team World Vision to provide clean water for Africa’s people. Locally, more than 100 Olivet students visit Illinois prisons each week to witness for Christ.

Funding for these trips comes from a variety of sources, including churches, friends and families of those who volunteer to serve, volunteers’ savings and fundraising events, and supporters of Olivet’s ministries.

“Olivet is a sending place, and M.I.A. helps give definition to what it means to go as a person of God’s kingdom,” says Mark Holcomb '81/85 MRE, University chaplain. “I believe in M.I.A., not only for what it does in places we serve, or for the sacrifices of those who go and serve, but in the way it shapes our Olivet community and our world.”
 
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Musical ensembles students can join, including 4 choirs and 17 instrumental ensembles