Acts Project Intern Reflects on Experience
Each year, Bryan College sends students on global internships via the Acts Project, a summer-long program dedicated to exposing students to missional work within their own field of expertise. The program is preceded by a weekly class, where students explore God’s call to cultivate the Gospel around the world and study current trends in missions. Once on the field, Acts Project interns serve alongside believers of many nationalities and live with missionaries who become cultural guides, vocational mentors, and spiritual friends. This past summer, the program sent eleven students around the world to seven different countries and three different continents: Switzerland, Tanzania, Greece, Laos, Zambia, India, and Israel.
Andrew Appel (Senior, Governmental Studies) spent eleven weeks in Athens, Greece with Operation Mobilization, teaching ESL courses, running a refugee-ministry café, and working with refugee camps and homeless ministries. He took a few moments to reflect on the experience for students considering the program:
How does the experience compare to other international experiences you have had?
Previous to this trip, I had been overseas twice: on a relief trip to Saipan, CNMI, and another trip to the Czech Republic for a two-week humanitarian and entrepreneurial internship. This experience was especially unique in that I was overseas for such an extended period of time – nearly 3-months – and was alone. I had always had at least one travel partner that was a friend or family member, if not an entire team; however, this solo venture was so profoundly stretching in responsibility, but also in spiritual strength as I had to rely so much more on the faithfulness of God.
What was the greatest lesson you took away from the experience? The greatest challenge?
I found the value in living a missional lifestyle. Out of the 10 weeks that I was in-country, I took 3 weekends to do sightseeing or tourist type activities. This was out of my own choice, as the rest of the time I was engaged with refugee friends that I had made, or doing normal things like having over fellow missionaries for dinner. Often times, when we go overseas on mission, we don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see the sights and do the things that we would if we were on vacation because, hey, we are already there, so why not? In reality, when truly taking part in a missional life, even if it’s just for a few weeks, I found that the relationships I made were so much more important… not only those I was ministering to, but also especially those I was ministering with, who were living this lifestyle week in and week out. This understanding did not come immediately, and was challenging to learn, but once I did, it turned into such a great blessing to my entire trip and how I continue to learn from it now since I’ve been back home.
What is one thing you want people to know about missional-minded internships abroad?
Being able to go on a trip like this for such an extended time is so unique to most mission work we see today. A two- or three-week trip can be great and a blessing to the local ministry, but long-term growth and learning is often difficult to achieve. And, of course, we are still young and in college, so long-term missions is not yet possible. Taking an entire season to commit oneself to God’s mission and dedicating oneself to the local team in-country has so much potential for learning in not just a missional avenue, but spiritually and practically. It is a taste of normal life in a different country centered around serving God in the 9 to 5. We aren’t running around trying to change lives in two hours, then running on to the next initiative to do the same before having to catch our flight home. Instead, we are waking up and leaving the house to unlock the doors and turn on the lights of the ministry office… going over to the grocery store for tea and coffee to share with those we are ministering to. We can have genuine conversations that can go on for days and weeks because we have the time to grow with those who have the potential to become dear friends, and even brothers or sisters in Christ. Captivate yourself with the lifestyle and embrace it, because its experience has a shelf-life of eternity, and not just until the pictures of the cityscape fade, and the footnote on the resumé becomes obsolete. Simply, be present and open to living life for God for a season, because that season is worth a lifetime.
Acts Project applications are now open. For more information on applying, email Sarah Gravett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Andrew Appel for taking time to share his experience!
Tags: Acts Project