As the spring semester winds down, it’s time to gear up for summer missions. One of my favorite things about being a campus minister is the opportunity to mobilize and send students to serve on missions around the world. As mobilizers, we equip them with tools and resources so they’re fully prepared.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
Jesus set the example in Scripture when He called the disciples to go out in Matthew 10:5-13. He gave them a focus, a people group, a purpose, some encouragement, and clear instructions. He equipped them for what He asked them to do.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts—no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.”
As mobilizers, we equip them with tools and resources so they’re fully prepared. One of the ways that we do this on my campus is by having training times for those going on mission trips/projects. No matter the length, type, or distance, they all attend weekly training meetings in the Spring and a single, in-depth training session. We know that our students will receive training specific to where they are going; but, more often than not, there is an expectation to have been trained on some level before arrival. (The International Mission Board, Lifeway, and several of the state conventions have a lot of great helps and resources that are very useful.)
During the training times, these are the topics we address:
Fundraising: Each campus and state has a different model for summer missions and funding. We spend time discussing all the types of fundraising and how to help them raise the funds they need.
Prayer & Spiritual Warfare: Many of our students come to college with a lack of understanding on the importance of prayer. Therefore, we go over types of prayers, why they should be praying, how to pray, and prayer walking. We also go over how to prepare for spiritual warfare and recognize it.
Team Building & Conflict: We work with our students to help them understand team dynamics, team roles, and how to deal with conflict. This is one of the most important things that we do to help them be a blessing and not a burden on the field.
Culture: Culture matters. Cultures are not good or bad, but different. We strive to help our students understand stereotypes, expectations, and navigating life in a new culture. Students get information about the culture of their countries or cities. The IMB has a lot of good resources that we use and give them, including the book, “Foreign to Familiar,” by Sarah Lanier.
Conversations: One of the growing trends we see on our campus is a student’s lack of ability to have a conversation that goes beyond three or four questions. We spend a lot of time on training them how to talk to people they do not know, how to turn conversations into spiritual ones, and how to practice active listening. We give them questions and teach them how to listen for key words to use for Gospel conversations.
Religions: Most of our students do not have a clear understanding of the various religions they will encounter during their opportunities. So, we go over major religions, their barriers to the Gospel, and how to navigate understanding. We teach them how to talk about their faith in a context that is clear and Gospel-centered.
Evangelism: We train our students in multiple forms of evangelism so that they have options when they are on location. We start with helping them understand how to tell their own story and how Jesus changed their life. We help them learn how to have a 3-minute, 10-minute, and 1- to 2-hour version of their testimony. We teach them the Roman Road, Soularium, The Bridge, Life on Mission, Any 3, Jesus Film Project, and Creation 2 Christ.
When it is time to send them out, we commission students and then set them up with prayer partners over the summer. They leave prepared and ready to be fluid, no matter where they go or what they encounter.
Sarah Farley is the Associate Campus Minister at LSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. She loves burgers, SEC football, and spending time with her students. Oh, and she loves coffee … a lot.