Around the Campfire

Adventures with International Students

By Marti Wade

“One of my passions is backpacking, rafting, anything outdoors really,” explains a Pioneer who serves among unreached people in the US. But do those passions have anything to do with missions? Jon, who works with international students, has found they do.

Many of the internationals he works with are young men from North Africa and the Middle East. Some of their families are just a few generations removed from desert-dwelling Bedouin nomads. Before oil was discovered in their countries, they lived a very simple lifestyle. Backpacking may not be part of their culture, but they know the lure of the wilderness, where they can set up tents and get away from it all.

“And for the guys, they like adventure. They all come wanting to explore this country and end up sitting in class most of the time. Most don’t have cars, and they are bored!” The hiking and camping trips Jon organizes for international students give them something exciting to do.

“Something amazing happens around the campfire. Almost always the conversations turn to faith.”

These trips also provide handles for volunteers who want to get their feet wet in international student ministry. They have the chance to make new friends. Some end up bonding with the students on the long road trips, forming relationships that develop further from there.

Getting away from homework, routine, and the business of daily life also encourage greater reflection and foster deeper connections than one can find in the city. “Something amazing happens around the campfire,” says Jon. “Almost always the conversations turn to faith.”

Our mission mentors would love to hear about your love for international students and help you discern if joining a Pioneers team is for  you.

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