Nursing students who go on short-term mission trips are often personally transformed by serving in another culture, but how does their experience influence their mission on campus when they return?
The students at Wichita State University (KS) discovered an inspiring connection when they prepared posters and shared mission trip experiences with their Nurses Christian Fellowship chapter. At the meeting, an NCF faculty advisor gave a brief devotional on journeying with God. She then served as a roving reporter to each display, asking students questions about their mission trips.
After exploring the basic questions of who, what, when and where, students were asked, “How did this experience change your life and commitment to Christ?”
One student felt too ordinary to accomplish much for God, but the challenges of the trip showed her God really does do extraordinary things through ordinary people like her. She went to Central Asia to build relationships with local college students as an outreach with local churches. Several college students she met that month came to understand and believe in Jesus!
Another student said she was terrified to share her faith. She was surprised how easy it was to share her faith in East Asia and be bold for Christ by using some simple tools. She learned to ask people questions, sit with others at meals, or start conversations by wearing a multicolored “gospel bracelet.”
Each student said the key to helping people in these other cultures was to build genuine relationships with them. All of the students were humbled by experiencing God’s powerful presence on their trips.
Taking it Home
Students then were asked, “How did your trip help you see your campus or clinical areas as a mission field?”
Initially everyone was stumped by this question. Then all at once several students in the group called out the answer: “Build relationships!” It was an electrifying moment as everyone realized their mission on campus was to do the same thing right here – to pray for God to bring people into their lives that need relationships and to be responsive to the Holy Spirit to make connections.
Students also learned great lessons about best practices in short-term missions. Each student was part of a mission group that had long-term ties with local churches and healthcare providers. They discovered how their short-term efforts have long-term impact as they came alongside the people who lived and worked in the country. The students learned humility and grace as they played with children, or helped college students practice English, or handed out healthy snacks and talked about nutrition. They developed great respect for local churches and health workers who have few resources but accomplish amazing things.
One student said he realized every small task, even though it seems like nothing, is significant when done for Jesus. When people see you are willing to serve in whatever way is needed, they want to know more about who you are and why you do what you do.
Students were provided with resources from NCF Missions and the Journal of Christian Nursing on best practices in short-term healthcare mission.
God spoke powerfully to the group as he translated the students’ short-term mission experiences into the realization of living missionally in school, in the hospital – and wherever they are today.
by Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Editor, Journal of Christian Nursing
Staff, Nurses Christian Fellowship USA