The Most Important Thing to Consider When Serving GloballyPosted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2021
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding about living and serving overseas. If you’re anything like me, I imagine a multitude of questions appear in your mind. Is this going to be best for me in the long run? Will this help me move towards what I strive to accomplish and become? Am I doing what the Lord wants for me? Am I going to like where I am going? This is just a little glimpse into the chaos that a decision can entail.
The biggest question that came to the forefront of my mind when I was deciding how I wanted to serve globally was: who will be my community? Will I have other Christians around me? Community has always been one of the most important things in my life. So why would it be any different overseas? I actually realized - it may be even MORE important while I’m overseas. If I am going to be stretched on the field - who will be the community around me that helps me thrive and persevere? When I go through a hard time - who could I share my life with in this season? When I have questions and doubts about my faith - can I rely on the Church to support and encourage me?
Community is core to who we are. We all desire to be known and to belong. That is our ultimate identity, purpose, and joy as Christians - to know we belong to the King through the good news of the Gospel. Community is important to God as well. God is a relational God. In John 1 we see “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” God is in constant communion with us, His creation, and even Himself. We see his relational character reflected in the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect communion. Living in community is a deep reality of the Lord and a core aspect of the life we are called to step into; a life of fellowship and communion with the Lord and with one another.
So when I was considering what to do post college, one thing was certain. I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by a biblical-based community in my next steps. Now that I have finished my time on the field, I can look back and say that my community overseas has been one of the greatest blessings of my life! It is a deep fellowship and communion that I have never experienced before and I have learned so much because of it.
Now that I have finished my time on the field, I can look back and say that my
community overseas has been one of the greatest blessings of my life!
These are four distinct ways I experienced community during my placement overseas with GoCorps.
#1 The Team
One of the main components of GoCorps is that they send every Goer to a strategic long term team. No matter which position you choose, every single placement joins a well established team for you to do ministry alongside. I went to quite a large team, which was something I desired (probably not that surprising for someone that is so big on the concept of community). I joined a team of 26 people! To summarize my entire experience with this community would be too much to put into words, but I will tell you some of the main things I have learned because of this group. I learned that deep connection takes time, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. I learned that conflict isn’t a bad thing if done well. It actually is what makes us stronger. And I learned that doing ministry alongside a group of people creates a deep bond that is really worshipful. Because I had the opportunity to join a strong team like this as a Goer, I have formed significant convictions about my ideas of fellowship that will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Because I had the opportunity to join a strong team like this as a Goer, I have
formed significant convictions about my ideas of fellowship that will carry with me for the
rest of my life.
Not only does each GoCorps placement come with a built in biblical community, but the program is also designed to provide you with intentional one-on-one mentorship. Every placement has someone on the team that is committed to mentoring each person that joins their team. Julie was my mentor and she completely formed my time overseas. She had been doing mission work for 14 years and had been mentoring college students for the past 15 years. She knew how to understand, love well, and keep me accountable. She called me out on my sin and helped me to grow immensely in my time overseas. Mentorship was key to my experience of community on the field.
Another huge aspect of experiencing community overseas is church. No matter where we are in life (or the world!) I believe that this is the place where we should experience community most immensely as we walk with other brothers in sisters in our sins and triumphs. Well prior to serving with GoCorps, I had never walked with a community different from me. I grew up in a suburban area and everyone at my church were middle class white people. We all valued the same type of worship. So what happens when you go to a church in the Middle East where there are 20+ nations represented, where the church size is a tenth of the one you’ve known for years, and where liturgy is so much different? It was totally out of my comfort zone, but it was really the only church option in the city (not a ton of Christian congregations in the Middle East). So I told my team mentor that since it wasn’t a good fit, I would just stream my church from the states online every week. But in her wisdom and grace, she pushed me in another direction. She challenged me to think about the community of the church. Julie explained to me that church is not about me but about how I can serve the body. I am so glad that she redirected my focus because I learned SO much about the church through my time overseas. My heart grew to value the beautiful diversity of the church and I got to truly experience the picture Jesus painted of His bride coming together to represent every nation!
My heart grew to value the beautiful diversity of the church and I got to truly
experience the picture Jesus painted of His bride coming together to represent every
Another way I got to experience community on the field was discipleship. In addition to the discipleship I received from my mentor, I also got the chance to disciple new believers - muslim brothers and sisters who made the sacrifice to lay down their lives for the prophet Jesus who now is the Savior of their lives. What a joy that the Lord invites us into this community! It is a gift and I am so grateful to have walked with my sister Hala and see her excited about Jesus’ mission. What a gift it was to introduce Sumaye to the Word of God for the first time, so that she may commune with Him.
This is what we are meant to be a part of. Deep community that is based on the truth of the Gospel. We see it from Genesis to Revelation. The Lord made us with a desire for community with Him and with each other.
It can be tough to dedicate multiple years of your life to another community and leave the one you know. You will also face tough days when serving on the field. It’s a huge transition and full time ministry always comes with its hardships. But what a joy it is to serve with others to others. This is the way of life that Jesus showed us. He said that there is no greater thing than the love that we give to our neighbor. And we find that deep love in the midst of community!
If you came to this blog because you are asking yourself the question “what will community look like for me overseas?” then my guess is you are either 1) trying to decide how important Christian community really is for your next step, OR 2) you are already convinced it is and are trying to figure out if you will get that through serving with GoCorps.
If you are asking the first question, then I hope my answer is clear through this blog. Christian community is so important in your next steps! It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work in a church or do full time ministry, but you should definitely be considering what the Church around will be like. If you are asking the second question, then I would say 100% yes! GoCorps’ teams are designed to give you community. While it may look different per location, every placement surrounds Goers with a biblical based community so that they will grow and thrive!
If you’re ready to find a place for you to live in community and connect your major to God’s mission, check out this year’s two year global placements to find your best fit, or set up a time to chat with a coach who can help you find the right team.