Most of the students in the small province would choose to attend any other university in the country. Their local university, located on a Southeast Asian island, is neither prestigious nor acclaimed. However, it holds the potential to be the starting point of a Gospel movement to sweep across the entire province and, ultimately, the entire island.
While this university might sound like an unlikely place to begin such a movement, many of the students, who come from faraway villages or neighboring provinces, return to their homes during breaks, taking with them the lessons they’ve learned – whether these be agriculture, business, culture, or religion. That’s how OneLife student volunteers can make a difference in the life of one Southeast Asian student. OneLife is a program that connects students to international missions opportunities.
OneStudent is a OneLife ministry focused on fostering relationships with Southeast Asian university students. “OneLife participants will live among local students,” Jack Pape, the OneStudent project leader, says. “They will live like a student, eat like a student and travel like a student.” In essence, OneLife students will live in the same way as those they seek to impact, forming a significant connection with the local culture.
“Sharing life experiences is merely a starting point,” Pape says. “From there, relationships explode.”
Living a spirit-filled life may sound simple, but it’s an effective process for reaching the local students, especially those from traditionally Christian people groups in which the students may know about God but have never made a personal decision to accept Christ.
“Sharing doesn’t make sense to them,” Pape says. “They’ve never been pushed to start something.”
As OneLife workers live with local students, the volunteers have a day-to-day impact. In the small university atmosphere, the visitors attract a crowd of local students who are eager to practice their English and count a foreigner as a friend.
“I have just one question,” says Merpati Putih, a local student who met OneStudent visitors in a library. “Can we be Facebook friends?”
Such simple connections often lead to deeper relationships and more opportunities to touch the lives of others. Even things as normal as hanging out on a campus tour, getting supplies or refueling a motorbike leads to even more relationships.
Through short-term trips, many OneLife workers have made a difference in the lives of local students. As short-term workers have discovered, God works in a surrendered heart.
“It was not in my power to do anything, but it was my job to have faith and obey,” says Allison Jackson, who spent four months at the OneStudent project location in Southeast Asia. “That’s all He was asking and He was able to use me. To see the Holy Spirit at work … was amazing.”
Through the ministry of Jackson and others like her, many Southeast Asian students have learned about Christ. As OneStudent workers travel and make an impact, even more students will come to know and believe. Then the good news will sweep through the entire province, proving that even one student can make a difference for Christ.
OneLife projects match students from all over the world with opportunities to become involved in God’s work. OneLife is in need of people to travel, donate and pray. Those who want to become part of the OneStudent project or learn more about OneLife should visit www.onelifematters.org.
Ivy O’Neill is a writer for the International Mission Board.