Studying the gospel in the class and in the field
“It was so impacting being able to see poverty face to face”
This story originally appeared in the Discipleship Training focus. View it here.
STONEY CREEK, ON—Discipleship programs prove invaluable to help students explore the Bible and better understand the Christian walk. For many students, however, one of the crowning experiences of their discipleship program are the outreaches and mission trips.
“Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship was one of the most impacting years of my life,” says Lisa Neufeld. “The classes challenged us in our walks with God and the trip was a huge highlight that complemented the whole year.”
At the end of her program, Neufeld spent two weeks travelling around southern Asia, meeting a number of Gospel For Asia’s (GFA) indigenous missionaries, visiting persecuted churches and seeing a slum of five million people. She says coming face to face with extreme poverty affected her so much she was not even able to cry.
“We hear statistics and stories, but seeing it makes it come alive. There was so much packed in that two weeks, I feel like I’m still learning from my trip. It has made me look at my life differently and be content with small things. After seeing the poverty, even walking into a clean bathroom makes me thankful.”
Susan Whitman, who works with GFA’s students, explains that the program has a unique emphasis on missions as they help the students grow in their walk with God. She says throughout the year, the students learn about mission work, but when they travel to southern Asia, a lot of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions get answered.
“They visit the actual places and see how the love of Jesus is being shared in a practical way. They also have the opportunity to ask the missionaries questions about anything they’d like. It’s an incredible learning experience.”
Beyond the overt benefits of the overseas trip, Whitman says there is another goal. She says they hope to inspire students with a renewed vision for reaching the lost and sharing the gospel through missions, but also at home.
Other programs seek to instil the same passion through emphasizing the opportunities at home. Christina Main, who is majoring in counselling at Emmanuel Bible College, says her studies have impressed upon her the need to serve tangibly in her community.
“Class is all about the theory. We learn about what works in an ideal situation and how one response elicits a different response. These are important concepts to grasp, but through participating in outreaches I learned about engaging with real people, in the real world, who are hurting and need a hand.”
Last year Main worked as Regional Missions Coordinator at Emmanuel, organizing groups among her fellow students to volunteer at local charities and running outreaches to share God’s love in the community.
“I grew up as a missionary kid in South America, but I find it funny when we say we need to go to other areas to do ministry. One highlight of the outreaches we did at Emmanuel was volunteering in the English as a Second Language class at a local middle school. Right now there are many immigrants coming into Canada from all sorts of faith backgrounds. The mission field has literally been brought to us.”
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