Darren Hercyk




Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Adam McClendon


Missions, Global Engagement, Experiential Learning, Poverty


Christianity | Missions and World Christianity | Religion | Social Work


With globalization, there has been an explosion in travel by academic institutions and the church. For the church, this growth has been in short-term mission trips. Unlike traditional missionaries, most short-term travelers are untrained or lightly trained laypersons. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to understand how local poverty assistance programs could be leveraged to prepare the church today for global engagement. This study provided ten church volunteers with training that included a Scripture overview of the poor, the multidimensional factors of poverty, reducing harm in poverty programs, and the skills for affirming dignity during an interview. Following the training, each church volunteer participated in two interviews with individuals receiving assistance at a local food program. The open-ended interview questions were designed to understand the food program recipient’s personal story, physical and social needs, and faith background. Data collection from the interviews and subsequent analysis through coding resulted in multiple themes, including the willingness of individuals to share their stories, the humanization of the poor, changed stereotypes, and the value of working with the local poor. The transferability of local experiences on global engagement and topics that deserve more in-depth study are discussed.