This International Semester opportunity really started out as a dream…a tiny seed…a message and prompting from God…to do something for College students. Give them an opportunity to come down and see what God is doing in Ecuador. To get involved in the Global Kingdom while they are still in the midst of their college experience. It is still a work in process, but we are thrilled with how God is using this life changing program.
It started out as a conversation between Phil Payne and a young College student who was down serving in our ministry. The Paynes showed up in Ecuador in 1999 to go to work with an organization called International Teams. Specifically an organization that was focused on Youth Ministry and impacting young people and families throughout South America. We were (and still are) training youth workers in the local church…working with street kids…establishing and helping run a 350 acre camp…hosting short term mission teams…working with international students living in Quito…and running an Intern program for North American College age students.
Back to the conversation…this young student said to Phil…”I love being down here in Ecuador…I love all that God is teaching me…I just wish it somehow connected to my College…I wish I could somehow get credit for doing Missions and Ministry!”…THAT was a God moment…one of those moments where God radically and powerfully speaks/nudges/shouts…do something about that…this is from me…to you. Do Something.
Phil returned to his office and spent the next couple of hours with a yellow pad of paper writing and dreaming…doodling…brainstorming…asking what if?
What if we took our existing Intern Program and added an academic component to it? What if we added Missions and Ministry to a Semester Abroad model? What if College students could come down for a Semester (or longer) and this program fit into what they were studying at College or University? What if they could use their Financial Aid to pay for it? What if God used this program to raise up Godly college age students who would impact the world? What if we had an amazing staff of Professors and Deans and RAs who poured into the lives of College Students for the kingdom? What if students could live in Ecuadorian homes? What if students could grapple with language and culture and kingdom? What if they could serve in a practical internship?
And that is what we have done…we started…and College Students started showing up. We continue to do that today. We have more and more students every semester. We have more and more schools getting on board with us every semester.
We have added more classes…more ministry…more missions. We have added to the Staff and the program.
God is using this incredible opportunity to challenge College age students to live intentionally. To grow in their faith and walk with Christ. To impact the nations.