Amy Walker’s Reflection on Faith and International Development Conference at Calvin College, MichiganFebruary 18th, 2014
My name is Amy Walker and I recently attended the Faith and International Development
Conference at Calvin College, Michigan. I am sophomore studying economic development at Messiah College. My ultimate career goal is to work wherever God calls me to help developing communities better promote their standard of living and economic health.
At the beginning on this year I switched my major to business and then decided to focus on the field of economic development. Throughout this year I have gotten a better understanding of how extensive, meaningful, and essential learning about development is. My advisor suggested that I should attend the conference and I knew that I needed to in order to start getting a firmer and better grasp on my field of study as a whole.
The conference was an incredible learning experience for me. Each day would begin with worship and devotions to gets are hearts in the right mindset. We would then listen to speakers discuss different areas of development and how we should see development from a Christian perspective. After the plenary speaker was done, we would separate into smaller groups and attend breakout sessions where we were able to hear about different organizations discuss what they are actually doing in the world.
One of plenary speakers at the conference was Brian Fikkert, who wrote a book I am reading for one of my classes this semester. He gave a meaning speech discussing what poverty is and the way in which we define it determines the solutions we provide for people. He stated, “poverty is a result of relationships that don’t work.” When we label people as poor and attempt to be their savior, we are confirming the shame and helplessness in them. What I really took away from Dr. Fikkert’s speech and this conference in general is that true poverty alleviation is about reconciliation relationships. We can’t solve poverty, but we can grow in relationships with others and allow Jesus to solve poverty.
Another part of the conference that I really enjoyed was in one of the breakout sessions. I learned more about microfinance and how it can be used as a ministry for others. Microfinance and helping people start businesses has always highly interested me and it may be something that I would like to pursue in the future. It was incredible hearing from experts all the different banking services that can be offered for the poor so they can acquire lump sums of money.
Overall, the conference helped me learn so much more about the field of development. I feel more comfortable in this major knowing how many opportunities are out there with so many incredible organizations. It also allowed me to get to know other students who also share interest in learning about the field of development. Most importantly though, it helped me to discern different way I will be able to incorporate my Christian faith into my field of study.