USA (MNN) – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is helping students explore new countries this summer through its Global Programs international trips. However, these trips are about a lot more than just exploring a new country.
“One of the new things that I’m excited about, with regard to summer missions with InterVarsity, is doing vocational ministry. Giving students a vision for how their studies, how their vocations, impact the kingdom worldwide,” InterVarsity’s Director of Missions Scott Bessenecker shares.
InterVarsity’s Global Programs began around 1970 and since then the ministry has sent thousands of students overseas.
Today, the ministry offers programs in over 15 countries, not including its domestic programs.
The Global Programs are designed to help broaden students’ perspectives of the world and to see God moving in other places. Additionally, each Global Program does have unique characteristics. Some students travel to specific countries for teaching while others may travel elsewhere to use their marketing skills.
One student is currently in Kolkata, India working with an organization to help draw women out of the sex trade. The student is using her marketing degree to help the organization develop and open up other markets and jobs for these women.
Yet, this student’s chance to use her vocational interest is just one out of the many placements InterVarsity has available. Global Program vocational placements also include I.T., engineering, and much more. However, these programs are also designed to help students see people through God’s eyes.
Bessenecker describes a program that looks at life in slum communities and the possibility for students to relocate for ministry. Currently, a student group is living in a slum community in Manila, Philipines. Previous student groups have also lived in garbage collector communities in Cairo, Egypt as well as with sidewalk dwellers in Kolkata.
“It gives them a window on life in and among the poor and the possibility of them relocating and actually becoming a part of these neighborhoods. Rather than ministering from the outside, [they] learn to live in and among those who are excluded,” Bessenecker explains.
And it’s these unique opportunities that give students a chance to see how both their faith and vocational interests intersect. Bessenecker hopes that these Global Programs helps students further learn and understand who God is and for them to come home with a deeper appreciation for the Global church.
“It helps to reframe the understanding of life back here, as well as the possibility of their future. So, it’s a great reorientation tool and it includes quite a bit of displacement,” Bessenecker shares.
“And there’s something about getting us out of the cocoon that we’re in and putting us in a situation that disrupts normal, for us to see with new eyes, what God’s up to. What’s inside of us, what needs to change, what’s being affirmed, and how it is that we need to live.”
InterVarsity does offer a couple of accredited semester long study abroad programs for students interested in an extended stay. These programs are often looking at sex-trafficking in Thailand and peacemaking in Rwanda. InterVarsity also helps connect students with internships through these Global Programs.
So if you know a student interested in going overseas, share with them about InterVarsity’s Global Programs. And please pray for the students abroad in these programs and those thinking about engaging in a Global Program.
Pray for them to travel with humility and a willingness to learn from those they meet. Also, pray for their safety, for their faith to be transformed, and for the messianic complex, which sometimes accompanies western travelers, to be squashed during their travels.
To donate to a Global Program, click here!
Continue learning about Global Programs and the global community through InterVarsity’s The Foreign American Podcast.