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Southwestern Adventist University Students Serve the Community Together

SWAU Ignite program animal shelter

Southwestern Adventist University students, as part of the Ignite Service Day program, visit a local animal shelter. Photo provided by Southwestern Adventist University

Southwestern Adventist University 2019 graduate Samson Sembeba, currently a pastor for the Oklahoma Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, spent his time at SWAU serving and leading in a variety of events and activities. He served as student association president, a student chaplain, and a pastoral intern. During the spring of 2018, Sembeba founded Ignite Service Day in order to create opportunities for SWAU students to serve their local community. In line with the university’s mission of inspiring knowledge, faith and service, he felt it would be fitting to create a yearly campus wide event that provided further opportunity for students to be able to come together to serve the local community. 

On Feb. 5, 2021, an event that started from Sembeba’s passion to serve, took place for the 4th year with more than 200 students supporting dozens of organizations across Johnson and Tarrant County in Texas. Student leaders have helped this event grow each year, providing new ideas and inspiration. This year’s efforts were focused on supporting the Keene community, with students staying closer to campus to work within COVID-19 guidelines.

With service day scheduled for the last day of week of prayer, Sembeba had the opportunity to return to campus as a guest speaker and partake in the annual service day experience. Taking part in this event once more, Sembeba had the opportunity to see how serving created such joy for students and community members alike. “Seeing students get excited about serving the community, especially in the current state of the world, is life-giving. I am inspired to see how a spark God placed in my heart several years ago has continues to provide students with opportunities to serve,” Sembeda said.

Emily Weaver, junior history student, follows in Sembeba’s footsteps as this years’ service day coordinator. As a lifelong Keene resident, Weaver has a passion for serving those in the local community. As a freshman and sophomore, she met many local residents who were moved by the service mindedness of SWAU students. “Having the opportunity to lead this event provides new perspective,” she shared. “I enjoyed connecting with Samson and hearing about how God has grown this event since its inception.”

Over the past several months, Weaver has coordinated with organizations such as Adventist Community Services Depot, New Life Bible School, Chisholm Trail Academy and Town Hall Estates to learn how SWAU could best serve the work being done there. She connected with local residents in need of yard and housework during the pandemic. The relationships she built through this process have opened her eyes to the needs right in SWAU’s backyard. 

Service day was a success and Weaver was blessed to see the work pay off. “The smiles on the faces of everyone who came out to help made it clear that serving the community is truly an important element of what we do. It was a lot of hard work to figure out the logistics of the event but was definitely worth it,” she said.

While several years separate Sembeba and Weaver, their passion for service and love for the campus community unite them. They dream of how the impact of SWAU will continue to shine an ever-growing light of Christ into the community.

“It makes my heart so happy to see our SWAU family come together to serve the community,” shared Sembeba. “It is always so nice to see people encouraged by the work you do for them, and it serves as such a good reminder of what God has done for us. I believe God will continue to use Southwestern Adventist University to represent Him in great ways.”