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Nurturing the missionaries of the future

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Lorne James transitioned from living with 80 villagers in the Peruvian Amazon to living with thousands of campers at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters Camp in Andrews, N.C.

James went overseas as a recent college graduate to participate in the International Mission Board’s two-year journeyman missions experience, then opted to spend a year after that in the States encouraging students to be involved in missions.

A graduate of North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C., James spent a year at the Christian wilderness camp for students because he had felt called to missions through the Snowbird’s staff’s discipleship, having worked there every summer during college as a camp counselor.

Working at Snowbird as an adult was especially rewarding because it brought his ministry experience full circle.

“I got to take everything they [Snowbird] poured into me and go overseas, and then [bring back] all of the things I learned about missions …,” James said.

Camp season, which combines outdoor recreation with Bible study and dramatic presentations, is generally during the summer months, so in the winter and spring James participated in church weekend retreats at Snowbird. James also spoke at several events at his alma mater, worked with pastors to explore missions opportunities and did one-on-one counseling with those interested in missions. A highlight for James was taking a team of students to where he served in Peru.

James now attends Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. The Florida native and his fiancé, who participated in the same J3 (three-year journeyman) program as James, are planning to return to the mission field after they get married and finish seminary.

J3s also use their overseas experiences to disciple the next generation of missionaries through leading Bible studies and prayer groups, coordinating missions events, assisting with cross-cultural orientations. They also share about the IMB and the people group with which they worked at conferences, church events and state conventions.

Alys Hill of Dickson, Tenn., spent her two-year journeyman missions experience in ice-laden Russia. She found the climate to be much milder in Powell, Tenn., where she spent the next year helping prepare students from First Baptist Church for mission trips.

Several students made commitments to short-term mission trips because of Hill’s testimony and through her mentoring. She also met with others interested in missions in the Tennessee area — acting as a “go-to” person for their questions and concerns.

“I always give [students] the good, the bad and the ugly,” Hill said. “I want them to understand there are very wonderful things, but being a missionary is not this Hollywood lifestyle. There are some very, very difficult things about it.

“[I] just make sure they understand it’s not that ‘one-week high’ you get when you go on a short-term trip. It is an everyday, day-in, day-out thing.”

Part of the practical advice she offers students is the need for a firm, biblical foundation in their personal lives. She assures them that a biblical foundation will be crucial during some discouraging days they will most likely experience overseas.

But a firm foundation also enabled Hill to answer questions from her Russian friends about the Bible and her faith.

“Alys, if it’s not a secret, will you tell us about how you came to know God?” a Russian student asked. She shared the Gospel with 10 students that evening.
Caroline Anderson is a writer with the International Mission Board. To learn more about the IMB’s J3 program for recent college graduates, visit going.imb.org/2to3yr/journeyman.asp.

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  • Caroline Anderson