Most students approach studying abroad as would a customer a travel agency, captivated by glossy images of fascinating places to see. Maybe you’re thinking of going to the place of which you’ve always dreamed. Maybe you’re so captivated by wanderlust, you’d be happy to go anywhere that lets you travel as often as possible.
But what if there was a different starting point for discerning God’s invitation to study abroad? What if the starting point was not where do I want to go, but why and how?
Of all the benefits studying abroad offers, InterVarsity believes that following Jesus into a new place and partnering with God’s purposes in the world will be one of the longest lasting fruits of a study abroad opportunity in your life.
THE CALL TO GO
From the very beginning, Jesus called his followers to go to the ends of the earth, to cross cultures, to bear witness to the gospel to unfamiliar people and places. That’s how the church has always been.
THE CALL TO GROW
Growing deeper in your discipleship and intimacy with Christ could be the leading criteria for discerning which program to consider.
THE CALL TO PARTNER
Being a part of the global Church is an abstract concept until you are actually following Jesus alongside people in a different setting. Following God through study abroad helps you see and partner with what God is doing in other parts of the world.
The majority of the world’s Christian population is in the developing world. What if your study abroad could engage justice and poverty issues in the areas of the world where the church is growing the fastest?
Many popular study abroad locations are known to be post-Christian. Engaging with this culture allows you a unique opportunity for witness. Being intentional with your faith in places where most young people have never seen a church service is a new frontier of student evangelism.
BRING REAL HOPE
There are some places in the world where it is very difficult for traditional missionaries to go, but where students can study for credit. What if God is calling you to a “creative-access country” using the vehicle of study abroad to be his witness where there is little or no Christian influence?
- Talk to your campus staff, pastor, or another trusted leader in your life
- Learn about opportunities abroad
- Consider a host country that may not have made the top of your list
Questions to Consider as You Discern God’s Call
- What passions, talents, and strengths do you see God cultivating within you? In what areas of spiritual growth have you been challenged? How might studying abroad shape those areas of growth?
- List all your reasons for considering a specific program location. Could any of these be fulfilled simply by traveling there for a shorter time as opposed to studying abroad?
- Is the cultural dissonance of a place you’re considering going to be significant enough to truly stretch you?
- What other voices are influencing you? Friends, parents, academic advisors? Are they consonant or dissonant with God’s voice?