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in the classroom

Nurturing Students' Interest in Missions

Student Missions Students who are interested in learning about or discerning a call to the mission field have a new group on campus to turn to. The Student Mission Interest Group (SMIG) was formed during the 2004 fall semester with the purpose of pairing undergraduates with seminary students who have been involved in mission and service.

The idea for this group was initiated by Skip and Carol Tobin and was given further direction by seminary professor, Lawrence Yoder, in his interim role as director of the John Coffman Center. SMIG is now being facilitated by a leadership team consisting of Rachel Smith, Josiah Garber, Carissa Sweigart and one other student. Participants in the group span a wide range of ages and majors, demonstrating the belief that involvement in missions is not limited to a certain degree or field of study.

Once a month, a group of 10-15 students gathers for a time of worship, prayer and discussion. People from the community who have been involved in missions are invited to share their expertise with the group. Loren Horst, president of Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions, led a discussion about the barriers that people in the mission field face. SMIG hosted an evening in Common Grounds, the campus coffeehouse, with Jacob and Hosanna Tobin Thomas. They spoke about their preparations and the challenges they expect to face during their time in Bangledash. Linford Stutzman, associate professor of culture and mission, joined the group in January during a break in his "SailingActs"travels to talk about the many lessons from Paul.

"Participants in the group span a wide range of ages and majors, demonstrating the belief that involvement in missions is not limited to a certain degree or field of study."

During Mission and Service Days in the fall and spring, SMIG encouraged students to engage the representatives from various mission agencies in conversation. Many SMIG members joined with other students for the "Pizza and Missions"event, hosted by the agencies and a forum on missions during the spring.

In addition to the monthly gatherings, small groups have been formed, giving students the opportunity to make connections with others who have a similar desire to discern God's will in their lives, especially in regards to missions. Approximately 20 to 25 students are involved in these small groups, which meet on campus or at students' homes for a time of discussion, fellowship and prayer.

Crossroads Table of Contents

SMIG has encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunity to receive spiritual direction with seminary students. Eight undergraduate students from the group have been placed with spiritual directors, giving both the director and student an opportunity to further explore their calling and gifts.

Jenny Horst, a sophomore from Columbiana, Ohio, says that she enjoys the challenge SMIG offers to look outside of EMU. "It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves. The Student Mission Interest Group helps me look further and consider what role I'll have in missions, wherever I am…as a missionary overseas or in a support role."

—Carissa Sweigart is a junior elementary education major from Hesston, Kansas