Extra Mile Love

May 4th, 2010 / 42 Comments

I challenged my university students to go “the extra mile” this semester to show love.  I was impressed with how they responded!

In my course studying the philosophy and theology of love, I challenge students to select a supererogatory love project.  “Supererogatory” means going beyond what others would normally expect.

The project had parameters: students had to accomplish the project during the semester, it had to “stretch” the student beyond his or her comfort zone, and it had to promote well-being in others.

My class of forty students responded in some remarkable ways! I’ve chosen six examples of “extra mile” love to share.

Blake Wenner, met the challenge by providing rebuilt bicycles for student use on the NNU campus. Blake was able to collect and purchase 15 “junkie bikes” and rebuild them. The project provides an environmentally friendly form of transportation for students who do not have bikes. Known as “Zip Bikes,” these bright yellow, green, and pink bikes now belong to the university community. Students can ride from point A to point B, leaving the bike at point B for another student. Blake plans to continue his work in the years to come.

Andrea Hills planned her extraordinary love project in response to a need she discovered while writing an article for the school paper. Andrea interviewed a volunteer from the Lifeline Pregnancy Care Center. She found that young mothers, especially teens, are often very vulnerable and need extra support. Andrea responded to this need by putting together care packages for Lifeline. The care packages are given young mothers after having a baby. Andrea’s care packages containing diapers, bottles, clothes, and other baby items are greatly appreciated. But she discovered the greatest need at Lifeline is clothes for older children – a need that Andrea hopes to fill in the future.

Student Braeden Gray decided to clean public restrooms as an act of loving service. Braeden went to a local store, purchased an array of cleaning supplies, and proceeded to a local gas station. After receiving bewildered looks from a very confused gas station attendant, he cleaned the station restroom at no charge. Several days later, the attendant asked Braeden why he would do this kind thing. Acts of love have the potential to leave others bewildered but appreciative. 

Courtney Michelson responded to the challenge by writing letters to a woman battling severe depression at the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona. The letters started as generic introductions. But as time went on, the letters became more personal. Her letters had made a positive impact in the life of its recipient. Through this process, Courtney came to realize that “acting in love is more than getting immediate results. Sometimes, the most loving things take time.”

The project of Allison Dietz reveals how a person can show love using personal interests. Allison loves to take portraits. She decided to offer free photography sessions (each session between 1-2 hours) for interested parties. She placed fliers around the Nampa community. Before long, Allison was receiving many calls to schedule these sessions. She edited the portraits and made CD’s of the shots for customers. Allison provided free of charge professional quality engagement photos, senior pictures, family photos, etc.

Kylie May responded to the love class challenge by informally mentoring two younger girls. She met the pre-teen girls at coffee shops read with them Captivating – a book aimed at teaching young girls to become godly women. Kylie was shocked to discover the severity of problems these young girls face. They or their friends suffered from depression, had attempted suicide, and had been molested. In the midst of these trials, Kylie was able to offer hope. She acted as a role model for these younger girls. And like most loving relationships, the benefits were reciprocal: Kylie grew personally as she helped to form these young girls.  

There were many other inspiring projects. It reminds me again that talking about love and defining it well is important. But showing love in action is often most important.

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Lindsay Vernor

What a great project! Bringing practical application to theological truths can be difficult. Kudos to your students for living the love of God!

Jeff Sharpton

Good leadership, Tom! You gave the challenge and your class came through with some great ideas! This kind of thing spreads… it would be very interesting to check back in 6-9 months and see what kinds of things these and others are doing.


What a great challenge.  I’m especially interested in Courtney Michelson’s letter-writing project.  I think we underestimate the real commitment to real individuals that we’re often called to make when we undertake to offer Christian love.


This is awesome, exactly the same idea I’ve been trying to get my kids to get involved with in my youth group. It’s interesting how socially awkward it can seem to do something randomly loving. Interesting and sad. But there is hope! This is a blog of hope! smile

John King

Very inspiring!

Cody Stauffer

This is terrific stuff. I actually really want to talk to Blake about his Zip Bike project- I think something like that would be awesome in a little community like Payette. Could I find him on Facebook or would you be willing to pass him my email?

Sounds like an awesome class…


Great vision for engagement and reflection Tom and I applaud your students for their creative and loving responses….

Darren Emory

Cool to see the theological application, Tom!

Dexter Daly

I was truly inspired by the way these students demonstrated love by going the extra mile in response to the love challenge.  It reminded me of God’s love inreaching out to mankind. The Scriptural foundation of 1 John 3:17 rings through.  I was truly encouraged and I could not help thinking about ways I can go the extra mile.

Ava Moore

What an inspiring example of love in action.  These students worked intentionally for the well being of others without benefit for themselves.  They reached out lovingly to others either as individuals or as groups. They affected their world positively.  It sounds like essential kenosis at work!

Michael Johnson


What a great assignment and thanks for letting us know some of the ‘extra miles’. If only each of us would make this a part of our daily living. I believe that God is constantly looking for ways to show us His love. He is constantly watching us, listening to us and pursuing us. If only we would engage in similar behavior to others, the result could be amazing!

Mike J

Scott Ketchum

Dr. Oord,

I’d suggest that the “extra-mile love” you refer to is precisely the love Jesus has called us to live out. 

As we have received love and wholeness from God through Jesus, our response comes next.  Love is called for.  How can we not respond in love to others when we have received so much?

What is alarming I think, is that so many of us have been graciously loved and saved, but have failed to respond in kind. 

What you challenged your students with as an assignment ought to be a way of life for us all that claim to follow Jesus.  Action is key to love as your students have demonstrated.  Thanks for sharing.

Brianna Chapman

It is interesting to see what some of the students in “Love” have done previously. While I am still thinking of what to do for my particular project, I can see even in these short snippets that there is the potential to reach out and impact people by going the extra mile.

Torrey Lubiens

There are so many opportunities I think we miss out on. Whether it is because we are too focused on whats at hand in our own personal lives or just plain procrastination to do anything, we lose track of how we can uplift or show love and kindness to others in some way with our present actions. Let us never forget we are here to share in relationship with others as well as God

Meghan Leis

Some of these projects are very creative expressions of love and there are even more countless ways to show love to others. That is what is so great about this project. We are all unique and as such, we can each find our own way to show others love. I hope I can come up with a way to show love that incorporates something I am passionate about. I think by combining my passion for something and loving others, great things can happen. I look forward to finding such a project to show love to others.

Ellie Ferguson

These are really great ideas! I am excited what this new semester of projects will bring!

Dannea Miller

All of these projects are amazing! I feel as though these students have set quite the bar to beat! As of today, I am not sure what I could do that would really stretch me and do something that I can show my love to others! With these examples in mind, I am hoping that I can come up with something great, something that will meet the bar of these students.

Amanda Preston

I really enjoyed reading the ideas that these students have presented.I believe this is something that should be incorporated into everyday life. Why should we settle for an easy life? Why should we expect to always get lucky with out putting in some work? Why can’t we help some one with something as simple as cleaning a restroom?  I have began to think of ideas for myself to do and am more then excited for this project. I have also began to think of things I can do long term, after this class.

Jason Hunt

Being honest I was a little nervous when I heard about this assignment as I’m not exactly and extrovert but I know there are ways I can show Gods love to others in my own way. These stories are great examples and I’m excited to do something and continue to do things daily to be Christ to people in small and hopefully in big ways in my future.

Myrandda Engelbrecht

I liked the ideas that these students had. When it was first mentioned in class I felt that it was something that had to be outside the box. I think that even my small ideas will turn out to be much greater in the end; with time, effort, and love that I am willing to give. I look forward to how I will help others, as well as what I will learn from this experience.

Reisa Fessler

It is amazing what such a simple act can do and the impact that it can make on those who witness. I am excited to do this project where I will be able to do something beyond my comfort zone because it is not something that I do often but I know will make me a better person. This project should be done on more university campuses.

Whitney Brown

I am really excited for this project! Kylie’s project really caught my eye. I love kids and spending time with them so I might want to lead a team of kids in a art project.

Aaron Rusch

It’s awesome to see the changes and the responses that were made as a result of this project. I like the idea of using a talent of mine to help others in a way that I’ve never done before. It truly is amazing to see what one action of love and kindness can do.

Nicole Bouchard

I remember hearing about several of these projects, and until now, I did not know that they originated with this class. I think that it is great reminder for us to consider the role motivation plays in our deeds of goodwill. So often we do something for another person for ulterior motives beyond a desire for his or her well-being. While this might not always be a bad thing, it is certainly important to be aware of. I look forward to finding a new way to show love this semester.

Samuel Hart

I really enjoyed this, I has given me a really great ideas for what I am going to do.  I can not wait to get started.

Kelsey Koch

These project examples were very inspiring! I really enjoyed reading about the project that Kylie May did. What a cool experience to get to share her heart and display hope to two young girls who are experiencing horrible things in their every day lives. In my profession I want to work with young girls, especially girls who have been molested or raped, and I hope to be able to be a light to them and be able to show them hope like Kylie was able to demonstrate to the girls.

Kaley Lione

It’s very cool to see the wide variety of projects that your former students came up with. It also help give me a better grasp on what this project is, and why you want us to do it. I feel confident now that I can hopefully come up with something that will also better someones life.

Colby McCarty

I am excited to challenge myself in the ways the students in the article have done. Blakes idea was a great idea. I happened to use those zip bikes every once in a while on NNU’s campus. I am looking forward to this “extra mile love” project this semester.

Ben Heidegger

Personally, I was inspired while reading about the project of Kylie May. I believe that all Christians were called to be discipled and to disciple others. I have never had a mentor in my life, besides my Father in heaven. It takes time and sacrifice to invest in the lives of others, but it is a loving endeavor that will almost never disappoint.

Eladia Howe

I enjoyed reading what previous students have done for this project. I remember when the Zip Bikes came out, it didn’t make sense then, but now I understand the reason behind it.
I find it interesting how sometimes when we act out in love, others don’t understand it as an act of love. Does this mean we failed to show love properly? Or is the receiver not understanding our message?
Either way, I am excited to create my project and display my act of love.

Celina Mortensen

I am really excited to get started on this project and the examples you gave were incredibly inspiring. I didn’t realize how big of an impact a small act of selflessness can have on one person or a community of people, so I am really looking forward to seeing how the project I choose will impact others as well as me.

Josh Wiese

I am excited about doing this project in this class. It is a bit saddening that it is taking a graded assignment to push me to reach out above and beyond what I normally do, but I have had many ideas in the past that are options of what I will do in the future. I like the idea of being creative and even innovative in unimaginable ways in order to bring change in others lives, or even just to brighten someone’s day.

melissa hazebroek

The variety amongst these projects is amazing. It seems that the most inspiring projects are the ones that take the most sacrifice and/or the ones that become personal to those being “loved” as well as those “loving”. I think that it will be interesting to see what the students in this class come up with and can’t wait to try my hand at reaching out as well.

Trina Collins

These projects are really amazing. It truly shows how diverse love can be and how there is an unlimited amount of ways people can show love to each other. Although this is a class assignment, I hope that we can really love our community, friends, and family members, and enemies through this love project.

Brenda Mbaabu

It must have taken great effort for these students to stretch beyond their comfort zones in an effort to love. That is an admirable attribute of all these students.

Moreover, i am convicted that it takes a class project to push me to love beyond my comfort zone. Love should not be limited by comfort, however, in our daily life, we just want to get by.

Also, it is somewhat sad that these projects are not continuing anymore on campus. After all the effort, these projects can only be remembered as projects; However what matters is that at the moment they were done, these projects made a difference.Thank you for this opportunity.

Reid White

These are some great ideas that the students did in you class last year. I saw the zip bikes around campus last year, but I did not really know what the rationale was behind them. Now it makes sense. As I have been considering what to do for my project, I find it a struggle figuring out one that would challenge me and stretch my capabilities, yet be achievable in the course of the semester.

Watching Pay it Forward last night was an inspiration in guiding my thoughts toward the general idea of what the project should resemble. The Extra Mile Love project should be hard, something you don’t know you can do. Recognizing the growth possibility associated with this project, I am excited to get started on whatever God may lead me towards.

Chelsie Collins

These projects really encourage me to do something that matters to not only myself, but that others are passionate about as well. I am challenged to continue to do something throughout my life that will help in someway the life of others.

Korri Dobson

I am so excited for this project.  I think all of the above examples of what students have been doing are great.  I want to put some serious thought into what my project will be.  I want this to be life changing for someone, even if I only reach one person.  I have paid for someone’s drinks at Starbucks behind me before but for this project I want to bless someone in a way that makes a difference in their life and inspires them to do the same thing for someone else.

Elisabeth Pena

In all these stories I noticed one consistent theme – most if not all were projects that involved an area that each person was passionate about. Each student took a passion of theirs and used it to help those around them. They turned a “selfish” “personal” practice into something to help another. I was especially inspired by Courtney Michelson’s projects. Writing a letter to someone is such a simple idea, but can have a huge impact on someone in need of a listening ear.  These stories have got me thinking of ideas of how I can turn my passions into aid for others.

Caitlin Bauder

As I read about what past students have done, it makes me realize that showing love is simple. These projects aren’t crazy out of the box ideas that will leave the whole world changed forever. However, they are making a change in just a few people’s lives. I have been spending a lot of my time thinking about what as Christians we need to be doing. I think small actions like the ones each of these students did are important. It’s not giving up hope on each other. It’s changing a few peoples live so that they may be able to change someone else’s life.

Kindra Galloway

These projects are really inspiring in that they show the great gratification and growth that is acquired by the givers through their acts of love. Our God-given interests and talents can be used how He intended—even if the act of love only seemingly affects one recipient. When I first heard about the Love Project, I immediately became excited, but had no idea in what ways I would show love. These stories have spurred great ideas for my own project this semester.

Cece Pena

This seems like a great way to give back to the community. Having grown up in Nampa I know there is lots of need for assistance in food banks, elementary schools, and nursing homes. I’m excited to start my project.

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