March 29, 2010
Editor's note: Students' last names are withheld for the safety of the people with whom they worked and to not hinder future travel arrangements to places which may not be open to a Christian witness.
Three students from Oklahoma Baptist University recently experienced life in different cultures for a semester through the International Mission Board's Hands On Program. Jonathan spent his time in South Asia, Sarah lived in East Asia and Katie served in South America during the fall 2009 semester.
"The program is intended to give students an opportunity to get their feet wet in living overseas," said Jonathan, a senior interdisciplinary major in cross-cultural ministry, anthropology and worship arts from Oklahoma City. "The IMB wanted something between a three-week mission project with your church or school, and the two-year commitment of Journeyman."
Three Oklahoma Baptist University students lived out OBU's mission statement to "engage a diverse world" through the International Mission Board's Hands On Program, which took students to Southeast Asia, East Asia and South America during the fall 2009 semester.
Once the IMB selects a student for the program, he or she lives overseas for the semester and partners with a local team on the mission field composed of believers from various countries. Available jobs are posted online at thetask.org, where students can pick their top three areas of interest. Students also enroll in classes at a nearby university.
"I worked with unreached people groups in Asia while doing anthropological studies on the side," said Sarah, a junior anthropology major from Tulsa, Okla. "I read books about people who were right outside of my window. Incredible!"
The students involved in the program raise their own funds to support their trip, but they also receive support through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. While living abroad, the students said they engaged in a number of activities that enabled them to learn more about the culture and more about themselves. Some of their ministry tasks included teaching English classes, leading Bible studies, taking trips to neighboring villages to share the Gospel, playing games with youth and building relationships with local people.
OBU students built relationships with their peers in cross-cultural settings through games and activities while participating in the International Mission Board's Hands On Program. The experience allowed students to gain firsthand knowledge of other cultures and people.
"I loved being able to meet believers through the program and have fellowship with them, and hear their stories of how they came to Christ," Jonathan said. "It gave me such encouragement to see them taking the opportunity to study in a foreign country and use that to share their faith."
Sarah agreed the learning opportunity, supported by OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach, was valuable.
"I really liked making new friends, sharing awkward moments and learning different ways of life and worldviews," she said. "I would recommend Hands On to someone who is seriously interested and feels like God is calling them to go for this season of their life."
For more information about the Hands On program, visit http://www.thetask.org/. For information about other missions opportunities offered by the IMB, visit http://www.imb.org/.
To learn more about OBU's A Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach, go online to www.okbu.edu/go.