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Location: Huaraz, Ancash, Peru

Having mastered the University of Montana's IYFD program, I journeyed to Peru with the US Peace Corps. Currently, I'm discovering Peru while living in the gorgeous Andes mountains in beautiful Ancash. Come visit!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Short Term Missions - the Aftermath

Here's an interesting question I found on the Christianity Today website. I included the link in case any one is interested in reading more.

I can attest that I worry about this very thing.

Do STM (Short Term Mission ) youth experience vocational change?When young people go on these STMs, does it have any impact on their future career choice or church service? I've known some college students who did secular semester-abroad programs that changed their lives and directions of their careers (e.g. toward NGOs or other types of nonprofit humanitarian agencies). Does participating in STMs result in greater involvement in long-term mission work, or other vocational Christian work, or involvement in lay ministries in the home churches?-Maria L. Boccia, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Dear Maria,
This is an interesting question and one that is especially relevant for me since my wife and I run a semester-abroad program in Honduras for Calvin College. Students come down to Honduras for four months and we do our best, with God's help, to share our passion for creating a Honduras and a world more pleasing to God—more just, less poor, and filled with more people truly knowing and serving him. We have seen many students change their majors and careers goals based on their experience. I think the time here is very powerful for all of them.
But then they return to the United States, to their busy life with friends, family, studies, a consumerist culture, and churches that do not often emphasize these issues. Their experiences have lent support to my belief that we all need encouragement and accountability if we're to turn powerful experiences into lasting change.
Two students may leave Honduras equally motivated and "changed," but the ones who returns to their old group of friends without staying in touch with their Honduras friends or joining a group with similar interests is unlikely to seem much difference after a few months. The ones who stay in touch and get involved in a social justice or mission group on campus will often end up making even more radical changes than they talked about in Honduras. So I think the young person who does a STM trip for only one or two weeks would need even more support in making sure those weaker impulses translate into action.


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