Most people approach study abroad as a customer to a travel agency, captivated by glossy images of fascinating places to see. Maybe you’re thinking of going to the place you’ve always dreamed of. 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 that study abroad offers, IV 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 in the unfamiliar. 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.
If 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 students 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 gospel witness.
Go where few can go
There are some places in the world where it is very difficult for traditional missionaries to go. But students can study there 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 trusted staff, pastor, or leader
- Learn about opportunities
- Consider an option 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 yourself? What areas of spiritual growth have you been challenged in?
- 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?
- Is the cultural dissonance of a place you’re considering 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?