A note from the author:
Last year we tried something new.
Forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, we made a drastic pivot from doing missions in person, and attempted to answer the question, “How is God at work in digital missions?” We learned and grew so much! If you’d like to read about last year’s experience, check out, “Reaching students digitally this summer.”
As the pandemic continued, we decided to run a digital mission trip (DMT) again in 2021. For the month of May, 27 students and 16 staff grew in their compassion for the world and in their desire to go deeper with God themselves. Through a variety of activities, students were impacted by the life-changing message of Jesus.
Over the month, participants connected with students in Africa, Asia, or international students in Canada. Recognizing the importance of partnership, we also took the opportunity to partner with OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) to participate together with what God is doing in Japan.
As participants finished the DMT, we didn’t want them to leave as “human doings,” focused solely on what they could do for God. Instead we wanted them to leave as “human beings,” who are daily drawn deeper into a relationship with Jesus, with a desire to make him known in their communities.
We’ve been grateful for this opportunity to come alongside what God is doing through digital missions and to rejoice in how he’s at work. We also rejoice in how—thanks to digital communications—our friendships can continue well after the formal DMT is over. Students can keep conversing and meeting with their friends from around the world, and over the summer, some even participated in an online Alpha program, exploring the basics of Christianity in a relational setting.
We asked a few of the participants about their experiences; below are just a few of their many stories. I hope you are encouraged and reminded how our God is continuing to work in the lives of university students all over the world. What an honour it is to see glimpses of him!
“This trip taught me the importance and power of prayer. At the beginning of the DMT we were creating group chats on social media to get connected with students. On the second day, I remember other groups on our team had 20-30 people join their group chats but ours still only had three people. I remember feeling a bit discouraged. It’s okay that there were only three people, but it meant there would be fewer conversations for us, because we didn’t want to overwhelm these three students by having several Canadians contacting them. As a team, we prayed together—then God showed us his goodness! The next day we had a whole bunch of people joining our group chat, and this group continued to grow into the month of June! From this group, we were able to make lots of new friends and have individual conversations with them. Praise the Lord!”
Kristal – East Asia Team Member
“One of my friends wasn’t responding much when I would message her and I felt a bit discouraged. But as we fasted and prayed for Desert Rain, God opened the opportunity to go deeper in our conversations. My friend opened up and shared a story of how she was experiencing loneliness in her relationship. As we started talking I shared that the one person I can always count on was God. From there she said, “I don’t know much about your faith, but what I do know is that Christianity is a faith of love.” She went on to ask how we could love those who hurt us, and I was able to share about God’s ultimate expression of love through Jesus. We are still conversing, but it was so amazing just to see the Spirit work through this simple conversation.”
Sarah – Desert Rain Team Member (North Africa/Middle East region)
“God’s shown me how I can see him through the lives of others, such as my teammates. I saw God’s heart in
- Cass, when she reached out to hang out with a friend, even though her friend is hard to love
- Laura, when she displayed hospitality over Zoom by welcoming everyone individually
- Alicia, as she encouraged us to pray for those in Quebec to know Christ
- Sabrina, when we worked together to lead a discussion on an episode from the TV show The Chosen: I could see her care and intention as she created questions
- Anne, in her excitement for our virtual games night. She invited many friends and even made an extra game just in case we needed it
- Jocelyn, when she invited her neighbours to connect with her church community because she saw their longing to make friends
These are just a few glimpses of how I’ve seen God’s heart in the month of May. I told many of my friends that this DMT has been a blessing because I feel like God has been equipping me, teaching me, and meeting me this entire month. International Student Ministry isn’t over for me, it’s just beginning. I know I can’t do it on my own, but thankfully I know God is with me.”
Jordyn – International Student Ministry Team
“One of the many things that I’ve learned is that evangelism can easily be integrated into everyday life. Before the DMT I sort of thought that evangelism was supposed to be a big event, or that you needed a large team before you started to share the gospel. I learned that that’s not the case at all, and that evangelism can actually be really simple. Checking up on a friend and asking if you can pray for them, or inviting someone to your house for dinner can be enough to open them up to what the love of God looks like. Small gestures can have a big effect on someone’s life and it could lead to them asking more faith-based questions when they know that you’re a safe person to talk to. The takeaway is that evangelism can start small and still be very effective. There’s no cookie cutter way to share the gospel.”
Olivia – OMF: Japan Team Member