Following on from the “Big Announcement” in last month’s update, I want to continue to emphasise our special missions programme for this summer, or what we call our “Virtual Student Summer Missions Programme” (VSSMP) this year. Last month, I mentioned a lot of the background and consideration that took place as the lead up to this programme. In this month’s emphasis on the VSSMP, I’d like to share some more information, which might help you, as you read it, to know more about what kinds of people we’re looking for in order to fill these teams.

First, I’d like to say a word about the term “student” that we are using at this point. These mission opportunities are specifically for Christian students or recent graduates. For those of you familiar with our summer projects over the years, this is not anything unusual. We have always placed an emphasis on Christian students for our summer projects, in large part because university students tend to be the only adults, who have a larger window of time during the summer holidays, which they can dedicate to mission service overseas for longer than a week-long project.

For most summers, when we use the word “student,” this has tended to translate in this way: student = university undergraduate. Though we have historically been open to other types of students, this understanding of the word has been the norm in terms of the young people who have actually participated in our student summer projects. However, with our VSSMP this year, we are expanding on this understanding of “student,” and we want to make this clear to people, both who are interested in participating and also who might know people with a possible interest. We’re actually expanding on both ends of the age spectrum as well. So, when we say Christian student, here’s what we mean:

Upper secondary school students

This is new for us in that we’re going a bit younger than our typical students from years past. We would like to open the project up to qualified students, who are in their last two years of secondary school. This would be Juniors and Seniors in High School in the USA, or A-level students in the UK. In terms of age, this would mean 16 to 18-years-old.

Undergraduate university students

This category has been the default for our student participants over the years. This would mean basically those working toward an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at the university level.

Graduate students

This would involve those post-graduates working on a higher degree such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree.

Bible college and seminary students

This would include those students in some form of preparation for Christian ministry in institutions dedicated to this purpose, whether for certification or degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral).

Trade, vocational, & technical school students

Students, who are studying/training in trade, vocational or technical schools, would be included in our VSSMP this summer, whether they are working toward certification in their fields or not.

Here are just a couple of final notes on this subject. First, as a rough estimate in terms of age, we are looking at about 16 to 35 or so, give or take. This information might be helpful to you. Second, by “recent graduates” we mean those people who are no more than a year out from the conclusion of their full-time studies.

In subsequent posts, I’d like to introduce you to the skills and backgrounds that we’re looking for in students to fill our teams this summer. We have over 30 different teams, emphasising different areas of specialisation and interest. These are all designed to make a strategic and “real-world” contribution to our mission and ministry here in Europe through meeting some very practical and often technical needs. Honestly, if the teams produce the kind of results that we are hoping for, it could push our ministry ahead by a couple of years in many ways, and perhaps even longer term.

We’ve organised each of these teams into five categories of service. These would be (1) Creation, (2) Knowledge, (3) Translation, (4) Business, and (5) Leadership. Check out the other posts on our blog for more details about these categories and the corresponding projects.