By Emily Drayne
Education is crucial for success in life, but many students just graduating high school, and any number of students already studying at college, have no clear goal or plan for the next 30 to 40 years . . . or even the next 5. Are there other paths available besides a four-year college program? If you know someone who is about to graduate high school or who is struggling for direction in college, a new program starting up later this year might prove a good alternative.
I am a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), and it was almost preordained I would graduate high school and enter a four-year college program. As I was leaving high school, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, as evidenced by my seven changes in major during college. Even after receiving my college diploma, my next step was unclear. I ended up pursuing a love of traveling and missions by spending three months in China. My love for people and new cultures was nurtured during that time. But as I look back, I often wonder, If I would have known about another route besides college, would I have taken it?
A New Venture—EnterMission
The International Conference On Missions is partnering with Johnson University and Camp Allendale to launch a new discipleship training school called EnterMission for students ages 18 to 23. EnterMission will be a 10-month training course that begins this August and will run through June 2020. Chris and Nicia Irwin, former missionaries to Ecuador and Spain, are serving as directors of EnterMission, and will be training and mentoring the students.
“Like most Christians, you’ve studied the Bible, heard lots of sermons, and gone to camps and conferences,” Chris Irwin says. “Yet many students and young adults still hunger for a deeper experience with God. You don’t want to just believe; you also want to make a difference in the world.
“EnterMission is dedicated to doing just that by guiding and coaching young adults in their spiritual development, within the context of community, while also providing practical, hands-on training in disciple-making that will last your entire life.”
Students who enroll in EnterMission will have exciting opportunities available to them. Participants will gain experience and knowledge through three avenues of training. The first two months will take place at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee, and then students will spend two months on a mission field in the United States. The remaining five months will be on a mission field in a foreign country. The exact dates, holiday breaks, and service locations will be announced later.
Two Major Benefits
In addition to the cultural experiences students will gain, there will be two major benefits to the EnterMission experience: its relatively low cost and the lure of college credit.
The cost for nearly a year of training—instruction, housing, travel, and more—is set at $12,000 per student. That’s a smaller price tag than a year at virtually any college . . . and it includes expenses. (The only expense not covered in that $12,000 is international travel costs, and that expense will vary with each student.)
Beyond the solid educational and practical training, each student who completes the program will receive from Johnson University up to 12 credit hours toward a degree from that school. That is equivalent to a full semester of college credit.
In addition to the classroom and field training, the low cost and the college credit, there is at least one additional major benefit: Students will learn about themselves.
The team putting this program together is made up of passionate, well-educated, missions-minded people from various backgrounds who want to see new recruits who are on fire to save the lost. Team members are looking for dedicated young adults who are willing to invest in a deeper relationship with God and others before they commit to a job and lifestyle after college.
A “gap year” has become a popular concept in the past decade or more; it’s when someone takes a year off between high school and college, or during college. A student often spends that year reevaluating the direction of his or her life.
EnterMission could serve almost like a gap year, while offering more constructive, productive, and instructive use of your time. It could be a good opportunity for students who are unsure of their career path, or who feel called to ministry or missions, or who just want to grow in their faith.
Space is limited to 25 students during this first session of EnterMission. Applications are available via the EnterMission website, http://entermission.world/.
A few questions may have occurred to you: Is this program safe? Can I trust the people leading this effort? Will it be worth it? The leadership team confidently answers “yes” to all these concerns.
Among those folks planning EnterMission are professors, conference leaders, and former missionaries—all of them are experienced and trustworthy. None of them would ever send students into unstable situations or communities where their security would be at risk. Of course, there is always an element of risk no matter where you travel and who you are with, but every precaution will be taken to ensure a wonderful experience.
We trust the experience will definitely be worth it—the insights into mission work and other cultures, the hands-on training, the stories participants will share the rest of their lives . . . it will be enriching, memorable, and life-changing.
You can trust that the student—be they a friend, family member, or young adult in your youth ministry—will come away with connections, opportunities, and a new outlook on world evangelism.
Emily Drayne lives in North Carolina and has served with the International Conference on Missions since 2011.