Published : Friday, March 7, 2014 | 12:29 AM
Maranatha High School teaches that the Bible is God’s story of hope for the world. As Christians, Maranatha staff and students seek to bring hope and healing in brokenness.
Four years after graduating from Maranatha High school, alumna Claire Aufhammer ’09 finds herself doing just that in Glasgow, Scotland. Claire recently started a three-year commitment to serve with InnerCHANGE, a Christian order among the poor. When researching agencies she could partner with, she sensed a connection with their vision to exist as “communities of missionaries living in marginalized neighborhoods around the world – places most people want to avoid or ignore.”
After she graduated MHS, Claire studied at Baylor University for two years and completed her Theological studies at St. Andrews in Scotland. After St. Andrews, she knew she wanted to do ministry and decided to do something that would give structure and training in missions. “I wanted to be a part of wholistic missions – to help people spiritually and also in the here and now,” thought Claire. Around that time, a new InnerCHANGE team was forming in Scotland and it seemed like a perfect fit. The missionaries of InnerCHANGE “seek to live out the Good News of Jesus among the poor, both with words and deeds.”
Claire and her team live in a neighborhood of North Glasgow called Possilpark. “Possil,” as it’s called, has the most deprived postal codes in a city with the worst life-expectancy in the UK. According to InnerCHANGE, it is also “emerging from a devastating couple of decades as an abandoned place of Empire, following the collapse of its founding industries. It became the heroin capital of Scotland – destroying a generation of men of women’s lives, in many cases leaving their children to be raised by their grandparents.” Incarnational ministry is about living among the people and making a difference one relationship at a time. “The whole point,” offers Claire, “is to be present in places where people have been neglected. We seek to live next door to people and get a feel for what is going on in their lives and for the needs in the neighborhood.” InnerCHANGE also seeks to appreciate the strengths of a community. They acknowledge that there are people who are already doing great things in the neighborhood and look to find a need that is not already being met.
The ministry through InnerCHANGE in Possil has three main areas of focus. The first is a relational church plant. The second is a family outreach to moms and toddlers. Finally, the third focus is environmental. As one of the poorest neighborhoods in Scotland, there is a lot of open land and also a lot of neglect. “Our church symbolically redeems the land (‘making all things new’) through community work projects, outdoor events, and clean up days,” says Claire. The ministry team has chosen to host much of their ministry and events from a storefront on the main street called “The Grove.” This site gives them visibility in the community and helps people feel less intimidated to come in. “Our focus is to bring people nearer to Jesus and invite people into wholeness and fullness of life that God has for us,” added Claire.
While at Maranatha, Claire served as a chaplain, participated in missions, and spearheaded a school-wide antihuman trafficking event called “The Exchange.” “Maranatha was a huge launching point for me,” Claire recalls. “It was an incubator to explore different passions of mine and the heart of God. My years there were very formative and have affected the trajectory of my life now.” She still keeps in touch with many Maranatha friends and faculty.
Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000 or visit www.maranatha-hs.org.