Each year thousands of students volunteer to serve overseas. They leave the comfort zones of their universities and churches to join International Mission Board missionary teams around the world. For more than 50 years, college students have made a lasting impact around the world by building relationships with nationals through English classes, sports, activities and sharing heart-to-heart conversations.
Students from Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, chose to serve in Krakow, Poland, this past summer. They shared everyday life moments and demonstrated what it means to be Christ followers in one of the most religious countries in Europe. Many of these interactions resulted in Polish students hearing the gospel for the first time and coming to know Christ as their Savior and Lord.
The Old Town Square in the heart of Krakow, Poland, is the largest town square in Europe. It has many gift shops and food stalls that tourists enjoy. The students took time to learn some of the city’s history so they could better understand the people they interacted with. Poland is predominantly Catholic (90%) and is home to many beautiful churches.
As part of their summer mission trip, students prayer walked the city. They spent time praying for their peers at the Polish universities. They visited specific places university students frequent to prepare the harvest through prayer.
Meghann Bledsoe and her friends talk to Emma Mackey, a Polish student, on the street. The three OBU students befriended Mackey at a coffeeshop conversation group. The Arkansas students engaged with Polish students to help strengthen English conversation skills.
Krakow ministry involved a lot of walking. It’s the life of university students in this city, so the OBU students joined in. They visited a university and the parks surrounding it. While there, they ran into their new friends and had natural conversations about school and the gospel.
Left: Emma Mackey talks with Polish students in the coffee shop. Right: Meghann Bledsoe (second from right) laughs about a word misused in a sentence within her discussion group. The Ouachita students helped their peers practice English as part of discussion groups outside of class. Many of these discussions led to talking about the gospel and sharing how Jesus transforms lives.
The volunteers visited a university and prayed together. They asked God to open the hearts of students to the gospel. College is a time when many are developing beliefs their own and not just following what their parents told them. The team prayed for God to use them to plant seeds of the gospel and to be present in the lives of their new friends who were watching what being an evangelical Christian is all about.
Emma Mackey highlights a verse in the Bible that will be given to a Polish student as a gift. OBU students spent a lot of time with Polish university students practicing English and just hanging out. Many of the discussions led to Bible passages and their meanings. The Arkansas students found out most of their new friends did not own a Bible that was easy to read. Most owned ones written in old, formal Polish.
A Polish student practices her English with students from Arkansas. The OBU mission team prepared some extra classroom helps for their Polish peers. Sometimes speaking student–to–student is easier than using a new language in a formal class. It’s easier to make mistakes and laugh it off. This bonding time in an informal setting led to both sets of students getting into deeper conversations outside of the classroom.
Kaitlyn Norris talks with Claudia, a Polish student, in a coffee shop. The two first met online when IMB missionaries asked OBU students for help. Claudia and Kaitlyn met in a video chat and practiced English. By the time they met face-to-face, they were able to have deeper conversations as friends. Kaitlyn and other OBU students presented the gospel and gave an English Bible to Claudia.
Claudia is excited to receive an English Bible as a gift from the summer volunteers. She wished to have an English Bible of her own. Her friends from Arkansas marked Scripture passages they thought would be helpful and offered to discuss them with her.
Is a college gathering even a thing without food? The OBU volunteers and Polish students chowed down at a game night hosted by IMB missionaries. Meghann Bledsoe (second from right) and Emma Mackey (far left) fellowship with Polish students at their table. Most of the students had been to classes or coffee discussion groups with the OBU team.
Bonding and practicing English, students laugh and play a game of UNO. Living life and being a steadfast presence is often one of the first steps in sharing the gospel. OBU students spent time getting to know their Polish college peers. Through these relationships and just normal fun, they were able to have conversations about the gospel.
The student volunteers and IMB missionaries get together with Ukrainian refugees at a local park for fellowship. The mission team came to work with university students but jumped at the chance to do any kind of ministry and gain experience working cross-culturally.
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Student mission trips have a rich tradition of providing personal and spiritual growth for the college students while also impacting the world around them for Christ. You can be part of the largest generation sharing the gospel with the nations. Join thousands of students reaching the lost with IMB missionary teams by serving for a week, a gap season, a summer, or two years as a fully-funded Journeyman.