HNGR was founded 38 years ago--during a major drought and famine that impacted much of South Asia and Africa.
It was a Christ-centered response to human suffering, hunger, poverty that would bring together intellectual learning (the causes, consequences, and means to address these challenges), character formation (a movement from ignorance to encounter to engagement to immersion and to identification), and service (a commitment to change, healing, and transformation). A holistic response, really centered on Paul's vision in Colossians 1 of ALL things being reconciled in the work of Christ.
In the ensuing 38 years, more than 750 Wheaton students have earned certificates in Human Needs and Global Resources, completing preparatory interdisciplinary coursework here, applied and reflective study and research projects in the field during their six month internships, and evaluative coursework upon their return. They have learned from, been challenged by, and engaged with Christian organizations worldwide that are meeting human needs in Jesus' name. Yet we say that HNGR is more than all this; participating in HNGR is to set out on a life-long journey. It is to set out on a journey of discovery about the deep paradoxes of our world. It is to set out on a journey in which students leave the familiar, cross thresholds, learn beyond the classroom through engagement and relationships, and become neighbors to one another.
Our recent alumni surveys have demonstrated significant long-term outcomes; HNGR has: (1) overwhelmingly shaped career and vocational goals and decisions; (2) affected lifestyle choices; (3) positively contributed to their spiritual health and walk (though often through the crucible of struggle with the reality of a broken world); and (4) laid a solid foundation for further study.
May I say that for those of us who journey with our HNGR students, we have come to believe that, at least in part, the longing to leave home for difficult lands and challenges reflects a sense of a further journey, a deep obedience to God, an invitation of the soul. And we have learned that once they (and we as we engage with them) leave our comfort zones, much of the journey has a life of its own. Is not this the basic plot line for many of our biblical narratives? Yahweh's words for instance to Abraham and Sarah: 'Leave your country, your family, and your father's house, for the new land that I will show you. Is not this God's own story in God's voluntary displacement to the marginalized periphery of the Roman Empire? Where God's redemptive plan then took shape.
A Christ-centered response to the challenges of our broken world requires learning that is holistic, bringing together the intellect, emotions, and spirit.
-Dr. Paul Robinson, Director of the HNGR Program 1999-2013