One of the unique features of the modern collegiate experience is the ability to take a semester and study anywhere in the world. Sometimes the cost doesn’t even differ from tuition, making college one of the most cost-effective ways to travel and see the world. Some universities, in an effort to get more students abroad, create January semesters or “May-mesters” so students can squeeze in these valuable experiences. The point is universities want to send their students abroad.
The Study Abroad Experience
Studying abroad exposes someone to different cultures, peoples, and places like nothing else. It is different from traveling on vacation. The study abroad experience forces someone to take up residence in a foreign context; you are not simply passing through, but have become a neighbor. You will see and do life with the same people for an extended period of time. The typical study abroad experience lasts around four months—the length of a semester. However, some students fall in love with their context and stay longer or go to another context immediately afterwards. A student typically takes a few classes, usually pass or fail, and spends the rest of their time exploring the things around them.
Abroad for God
What if this unique opportunity was leveraged for the mission of God? What if God, in his providential wisdom, has arranged such a time as this for the advancement of his Kingdom? I think he has. Why not consider utilizing a study abroad opportunity for the mission of God? Maybe study abroad doesn’t have to center around you and your desires. Maybe this opportunity was always meant to be leveraged for his name.
A student has access to even the most closed of places. Often, countries feel threated by foreign workers, but students are gladly welcomed. A student studying abroad can enter into spaces and relationships that vocational missionaries can only dream up. The inquisitive nature of students creates opportunities to learn from nationals as classmates or the baker down the street. You could have conversations and relationships that could take months and years for vocational missionaries.
A student brings a flexible schedule and the relational capacity to dramatically assist an international church planting team already on the ground. A student could be the shot-in-the-arm a church plant needs to keep going. As a student, you could help reach an entire people group! You are a fully-funded missionary and you didn’t even know it! Now is your opportunity to be obedient to Jesus’ commission in a new way. But you do not have to do it alone!
Mercy Hill College desires to come alongside you and empower you to leverage study abroad for the sake of the mission. We want to be a part of the conversation; here is how you can invite us in — www.mercyhillgso.com/studyabroad. Come join the movement.
-Jon Sheets (College Ministry Director)