Studying abroad; growing faith

By August 22, 2013

International (ICF) — The world is closer than ever before, and God’s kingdom is expanding everywhere.

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity)

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity)

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity)

(Photo courtesy InterVarsity)

In that framework, the ministry team hopes to leverage the resources and experience of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship missions and partnerships with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) worldwide.

It’s a new branch of ministry, barely into beta-development (not even six months old), so the team invites you to walk with them and help them dream about how to rethink Study Abroad as MISSION. The end goal will help create dynamic Kingdom-advancing opportunities (via online community) for students studying abroad.

The idea came about when staff member Lauren Dueck looked back on her days as an American student studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. She believes that study abroad is an opportunity, as she puts it, “to bring [students] more deeply into communion with Him, to grow them as leaders and as disciples, to build cross-cultural skills, and to deepen their conviction and competence in evangelism.”

InterVarsity wants to provide the tools and training to make this possible and replicable, for as many students as possible. They want to grow communities of InterVarsity students who are studying abroad and connect them to the IFES in their host countries.

Really, they want to see study abroad cease to be a discipleship liability and turn instead into a missional opportunity for the Gospel movement, and for the IFES in every place they send an InterVarsity student.

It’s already begun. Last spring, they gathered a cohort of American and Canadian students for a weekend retreat in the UK. Topics discussed: worship, sex, drinking, crossing cultures, justice, and evangelism. At the end, 20 students left equipped to engage in the IFES evangelism efforts across Europe.

IFES hopes to do it again this fall: they’re inviting students studying abroad in Europe to Barcelona, September 13-15, so that they can train, equip, and commission them to discipleship and mission while they’re overseas.

It’s starting in Europe, but they’re hoping to roll out world-wide programming in the next five years so that those 1100 InterVarsity students can join with the IFES to be a transformed and transforming presence to the ends of the earth. In the meantime, they’re already pioneering virtual ministry to connect and resource students studying on every continent.

If you know a college student who is studying abroad, invite them to visit www.intervarsity.org/studyabroad.

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