Anatomy of an Internship
One Student's Trek Towards Becoming a World Christian
What's a Penn State student like me doing at the U.S. Center for World Mission? My internship, of course! Let me tell you about it.
I am a 12th term senior at the Pennsylvania State University. My major is Individual and Family Studies which is in the College of Human Development. One of the requirements of my major is to gain a first hand look at the field of Human Services by spending 10 weeks (one full term, worth 10 semester units) in a professional Human Service setting. And what could be more human service oriented than missions?
It all started Spring term at Penn State in 1980.1 enrolled in a class that was offered to Penn State students by the Institute of International Studies. Seventy five other students and myself met twice a week for the class which we affectionately named "the missions course." Over the course of that Spring term, the other students and I gained a new perspective on many things. We began to see how God's plan, throughout all of time, has been to bring all people groups from all over, the world (not just at Penn State) into a restored relationship with Himself.
We began to understand that God's blessings on us were meant to be shared with others, and that the gift of Jesus is God's greatest blessing of all time. We began to realize that to share Jesus with all the peoples of the world is the most significant purpose of all. The perspective that I gained during that term radically changed the direction of my life.
I had pursued my course of study at Penn State with the goal of ending up as a Christian counselor. I had thought I would live a normal middle class American life and that I would exhort others to obey Christ, but I didn't really know what it meant to obey Christ. As I studied the Bible and listened to the others to obey Christ too, but I saw the incredibly unequal distribution of Christian laborers in the world's population. How could 2.7 BILLION people hear about Christ and become His disciples if no one would share the Gospel with them in a way that they could understand and how could I justify staying in the United States making disciples when so many millions of Muslims, Hindus, Chinese and tribal peoples would never even have the chance to hear who Jesus really is. By the end of that Spring term at PennState, I could no longer ignore the need for all peoples to have a Christian witness.
I felt as though blinders had been removed from my eyes. Suddenly I saw the 4 billion people of the world in a new way. At the end of that term, I committed the rest of my life to the task of world evangelization even though 1 didn't know exactly how God would lead me. I only knew that knowing God was the reason why I was created and that knowing God meant knowing and acting in accordance with God's heart for the whole world.
My new perspective motivated me to begin praying daily for the world's people groups, to take classes with an international focus, and to get to know some of the international students on campus. I got to know one very special Muslim couple from Libya. God used them (and their newborn baby!) to give me a growing love for Muslim peoples. I even began to pray that someday God would allow me to be a career missionary to Muslims.
My continued interest in missions was stumulated by regular contact with other "World Christian" books written by former missionaries, and conferences on missions (including the "international Student Consultation on Frontier Missions" held in Edinburgh, Scotland, which God miraculously brought me to), as well as my personal time with God in His Word.
So how did 1 end up at the U.S. Center for World Mission? That's easy to explain. A friend of mine had moved out to Pasadena because of her interest in missions, and she suggested that I come too. I thought about it, and decided that if God would make it possible for me to do my Penn State internship here then I would come. As you know by now, God did work out the details, and before I knew it I was working on staff with the Institute of International Studies (IIS), getting credit back at Penn State at the same time. (I had to send weekly reports.)
My responsibilities here at ]IS are very diverse. I am learning to do things I've never done before. I help to coordinate class activities and assignments; I am learning a little bit about computers; I am seeing the whole teaching side of education; and I am gaining confidence in my ability (by God's grace) to put my bookknowledge to practical use.
Penn State is pleased with my opportunity to experience so many new insights into professional Human Services; IIS is pleased with the extra help that two more hands can provide; my parents are pleased that their daughter can take advantage of a whole world's worth of opportunities as part of her education, and I am "tickled pink" that I can benefit from the experience and insights from so many wonderful people here at IIS and at the USCWM as I influence other students toward lifelong commitment to Christ and His Global cause! What more could I ask for?
Now I am facing the inevitable decisions that each student must face upon graduation. This internship has been an outstanding opportunity for me to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses with regards to professional Human Services. But it has also been invaluable for helping me to see how I need to continue to prepare myself for my future as a career missionary to Muslims, if God continues to lead me in this direction.
I don't know exactly what my next step will be, but I know I want to continue to prepare myself by learning more about the Bible, Muslims, and world evangelization as I also share my vision for the world with other students. The job of reaching the whole world for Christ is too big for the few who are presently committed to it It seems to me that more people need to gain a new perspective on what it means to "obey Christ"
Perhaps you, fellow students, would be able to take advantage of an internship from your school, either secular or Christian, to come to Pasadena to the USCWM. Maybe you, too, could learn the things that only first hand experience can teach you.If you would like a challenging, eyeopening encouraging and academically profitable exposure as part of your education, begin to pray about it. Ask God if He would work out the details. Talk to your advisor and see if a professional experience can fit in with your curriculum. There's room for many more hands here at the USCWM in areas like human services, computers, graphics, international development, community development, writing and research and personnel to name just a few. Maybe you, too, can earn college credit for valuable, first hand educational experience! Give it a try. I'm sure glad I did!
Sound interesting? Do you know of someone who could benefit from' such an experience? For more information about an internship like Sue's or in another area of your interest check the appropriate box on the back of this magazine.