Love embraced

Student missionary serves refugees in Colombia

Serving as a student missionary has been a goal for Hannah Knipple, junior business marketing major, since her early memories of listening to missionary stories told by her close family and friends. Years later when she became a student at Walla Walla University, her passions for traveling and serving others made it clear that student mission work would be the perfect fit. 

Knipple is working with On the Ground International (OTGI), a grassroots humanitarian aid organization for Venezuelan refugees based in Pamplona, Colombia. As an OTGI worker, Knipple’s responsibilities look different every day. “Some days I wake up at 6 a.m. to go clean a shelter,” Knipple said. “Other days I boil 200 eggs and make 100 sandwiches to hand out along the road.” As a communications intern, Knipple also helps run all of OTGI’s social media platforms, their website, and fundraisers.  

Knipple has been amazed at the amount of people she has met during her time in Pamplona. She explained that new volunteers from all over the world arrive in Pamplona every three weeks, totalling over 40 new coworkers since she arrived four months ago. Learning to speak Spanish has been the most challenging part of Knipple’s student missionary experience so far, but has given her the opportunity to interact directly with her colleagues and the refugees she works with. “It has been incredibly rewarding knowing that I’m making a direct impact in the lives of refugees every day,” said Knipple. 

Working with OTGI has had a stronger impact on Knipple’s spiritual life than she ever expected. “OTGI isn’t your average student missionary experience because it isn’t located at a Christian school or orphanage,” Knipple explained. “This is the first time I’ve really been outside of the Adventist bubble and it has challenged me to grow in my personal devotional life.” Knipple’s work schedule has allowed her to set aside time for devotions most mornings or evenings, challenging her to explore and build her relationship with Jesus. Though she isn’t sure what career she wants to pursue yet, Knipple’s work with OTGI has given her a passion for doing much more volunteer work in the future. 

Knipple shared one of her favorite quotes by Ben Stuart that reads “love embraced becomes love extended.” For Knipple, this means going out into the world to love those who Christ loves: “No matter where we are, when we embrace the love God pours out into us daily, it will spill over into the lives of those around us.” 

Watch a reel showing Knipple’s daily activities on the WWU instagram page, or learn more about student missions at WWU by visiting

Posted Feb. 12, 2024

Student missionary