Join Veritas Abroad in the End It Movement

 

27 million= the population of Texas

27 million= enough people to fill every professional football stadium 12 times.

27 million= the number of people still trapped in slavery today. *

Slavery still exists. And we’re taking a stand.

February 27 is “Shine a Light on Slavery” day, and Veritas Christian Study Abroad is joining the End It Movement to raise awareness about slavery in the world today.

End It Movement and Veritas Abroad

Veritas Christian Study Abroad is joining teams of Freedom Fighters around the world by drawing a red X on our hands. We’re sending students to places like San Jose, Costa Rica to fight for trafficked people. We support these ministries as a group and other ministries as individuals.

How to get involved:

  • Draw a red X on your hand and post your photo on instagram tagging #enditmovement & @veritasabroad.
  • Support organizations and ministries fighting for freedom through prayer and giving.
  • Go. Drawing an X is only the beginning. If you want to fight for the freedom of enslaved people,  join our teams abroad. Find out how.

We’ve been set free, let’s walk in that freedom together.

End It Movement Isaiah 61
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Three People Who Could Change Your Experience Abroad

“By willingly accepting foreign circumstances, the illusion of control is disrupted and we open ourselves to the creative work of God and greater intimacy with Him.” -Skye Jethani

Study Abroad in Seoul, South Korea

Before departing for South Korea, I made some goals for myself and chose this quote by theologian Skye Jethani as my mission statement of sorts for my trip. I chose obvious goals, such as connecting with a foreign culture, but I also resolved to seek out spiritual growth.

This semester with Veritas in South Korea has far exceeded my expectations both in its cultural impact and spiritual impact. The spiritual challenges and growth I have encountered here have been phenomenal. I’ve especially learned a lot from the people I have met through Veritas and Jubilee Church.

Without these three people, the Veritas program, and Jubilee Church, I think the impact of this trip on my life would have been much less significant.

1. Teacher.

Victor Chun taught my Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class. This class gave me such a different view on missions. The course material was already convincing, and Victor’s own personal passion for the topic of missions greatly added to the class. It would be near impossible to not be excited about missions after hearing Victor talk about it! This course gave me a much better understanding of what the Bible has to say about missions, the history of missions, the current need for missions, and how to practically and effectively carry out missions in today’s day and age.

This course increased my self-confidence as well. The largely discussion-based model helped me solidify my own personal beliefs and learn how to better articulate them. Victor facilitated this. He is not one inclined to judge others, and always was such an encouragement to my classmates and me.

2. Mentor.

Borra Han played an essential role in my spiritual growth here in Korea. Not only did she host a weekly Bible study I attended, she also connected me to Jubilee Church, helped me find volunteer opportunities, and encouraged me to daily seek Christ. Borra’s interest in and compassion for others is truly amazing. Although Korea in general has a high concern for others, Borra’s heart for people definitely stood out among the rest. Never before have I seen someone who inspires me to strive to show Godly love quite like Borra.

3. Friend.

My friend Stephanie DeMott has had a tremendous impact on my spiritual life as well. She leads the Bible study for college girls at Jubilee Church, as well as teaches English at Konkuk University in Seoul. Every week, she has come to Bible study with material prepared that challenges me and helps me grow in my faith. The thing that I appreciate most about Stephanie, though, is her honesty. She is honest about her own struggles and insecurities in every Bible study. She has been such an encouragement to me spiritually!

Study Abroad in South Korea

Living in a foreign environment is hard. Being part of a study abroad program rather than simply being an exchange student was extremely helpful, but it was still difficult. My own experiences have made me much more sympathetic toward international students. I also learned a lot on this trip about loving others with a true, honest, and Christ-like love. When I return to my home university, I think I will be much more likely to reach out to the international students since I know what they’re going through and have more of a passion for loving people.

Culturally, I learned a lot about the vast differences that exist between different areas. Even though Korea is very modern and fairly westernized, the small differences add up surprisingly quickly. Businesses are open different hours, the food is different, television is different, paper is different sizes, The list goes on and on. I am also now more aware of things in my own culture that could be seen as strange: tipping in restaurants, giving engagement rings, buying foods in bulk, etc.

I also gained a lot of confidence in myself. Although my own future still terrifies me, I can say with confidence that everything is going to be okay. After living on my own in a foreign country for four months, I know that I am capable of handling much more than I give myself credit for. I now know I am more capable, confident, independent, and intelligent than I believed I was before.

I think the biggest lesson I learned here in Korea is this: sharing cultures doesn’t diminish each culture’s significance; sharing cultures enhances the beauty in each culture.

Korean food and culture

Adopting some aspects of Korea’s culture doesn’t make me any less American. It just means that I’ve seen the beauty in Korean culture and realize that it’s okay to recognize that. Every culture includes both good and bad. That is simply a truth. There is no shame in admitting the areas of your culture that need improvement and recognizing the areas of other cultures that deserve accolades.

This semester has been one of the most fantastic times of my life. That doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed it all, but I did grow a lot out of the incidents that I didn’t enjoy. This semester has been a time of spiritual renewal, cultural learning, and confidence building. I can honestly say that Korea has gained a very special place in my heart.


Study abroad and missions student in South KoreaThis blog post has been contributed to by Victoria Nelson, student at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Victoria studied abroad and served through global missions in Seoul, South Korea in fall 2014 with Veritas Abroad.

Who will you meet abroad and how will you change for the better? Step into a spiritually challenging yet rewarding experience with Veritas Christian Study Abroad. Summer application deadlines are around the corner!

 

Photos by Veritas Abroad students Aliciea Vang and Victoria Nelson.

 

 

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Debunking the Myth of Security

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller, The Open Door

There is a café in the San Blas district of Cusco called The Meeting Place. This café is
known just as much for its amazing waffles as for its unique business model: all the profits from the café go to specific ministries, such as free housing for missionaries.

It is a Christian business, but every Sunday they hold discussions on a broad range of topics, and people of all faiths are invited to attend. Three friends and I attended a discussion on identity. Another man there had been a missionary in Cusco since the 70’s.

Throughout the discussion, he referenced a number of great literary works he found relevant. At the end, he gave each person a three-page handout filled with his all­-time favorite quotes–a true treasure.

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Now I have a confession: I have never read The Open Door. In fact, I had never actually
heard of it until I was thumbing through the handout looking for a cool quote to use on Instagram to caption a shot I took at Lake Titicaca. I came across this quote by Helen Keller and loved it immediately. Yes, I loved it for its profundity and because it sounded appropriate for what my picture was portraying.

However, I also loved it because it articulated thoughts I had been hesitant to put into words myself. When I saw that the Helen Keller had said this, I felt a sense of freedom and validation.

During my senior year of high school, I took a class called “Perspectives on the World
Christian Movement”. One of the many things I learned is that the life of a true follower of Jesus is necessarily marked by adventure.

When I went off to college for the first time, I was further convinced of this. The funny thing is that it took me going on the biggest adventure of my life, study abroad in Peru, for me to doubt this. Thoughts started creeping into my head. I thought that maybe I was striving for a life of adventure over a life of God—trying to be someone I was not. I thought it possible to be passionate about Jesus and never expect wondrous things to happen.

IMG_6259  This is when God started to talk some sense into me. In our Cross-­Cultural Leadership class, we talked about the life of Abraham. Juan Carlos, our professor, told us that the word God used to tell Abram to go was “¡Vete!” in Spanish. This is a command to take yourself and leave. The same word is used by Jesus in the Great Commission: “¡Vete! and make disciples of all nations…”

Then, I learned in Spanish that this reflexive form of the verb “ir” is usually used when a destination is not specified.

And then came this quote.

There is one single word that comes to mind when I think about describing this semester abroad in Peru. You guessed it–adventure.

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Adventure manifested in learning a new language, in travelling to places I did not know existed, in seeing sights I had only ever heard or studied about, in meeting people from all over the world, in having challenging talks, in trying new (and sometimes unpalatable) foods, in dealing with strange illnesses, in being a sister to Peruvian kids I had known for only three hours, in being hugged by 26 kids more passionately than I thought possible, in travelling on a bus for 23 hours, and in learning more about the grace and power God gives us if we are willing to put forth even the smallest amount of faith.

I trust God will use the love I had the opportunity of giving to the kids at
Chachacomayoc Primary School, to the girls at Casa de Acogida, and to the beautiful Peruvians on the streets in ways that will bring Him the utmost glory. I feel confident knowing that any work I have taken part in Peru was done with love as the motivation.

I have learned so many things from being in Peru with Veritas. One of my highlights was
telling an eleven-­year-­old girl from Lauramarca the truth about who God is. She asked the most amazing questions and I was happy to use Spanish to explain the beauty of the love of God.

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I told her that God does not only speak English and Spanish, but every language. I told her to speak to Him in Quechua because he understands her. I learned that the misconceptions of Christianity may need to be debunked when witnessing to another culture. Finally, Juan Carlos taught us how to study and apply the Bible in culturally ­sensitive ways.

I know that I have no right to pull a naked quote out of a book I have never read, but I am
still choosing to use it in boldness for the truth it speaks about life. I have no right to have
anything to do with an indescribable, all-­powerful being that we humans call God, yet I am still choosing to boldly approach him and claim daughtership. And with that, I accept the duties and responsibilities that come with claiming to know the Creator God as my Dad.

I agree, Helen, security is mostly a superstition. We start to approach security as we draw near to the Father. However, in drawing near we are reminded of who God really is and the illusion of security is overtaken by the reality of the adventurous, powerful nature of a life lived in obedience to God.

Hasta_luego_Peruvian_family._I_m_going_to_miss_you_guys__you_re_the_coolest__ohana__studyandserve__peru__goinghome__loveyou_by_r2dollarz

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Helen Keller


Natalie Bain is a Junior Biology major and Nutrition minor at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Natalie loves the outdoors and spending time with people outdoors. She’s a pre-med student who took a break from the science lab to spend a semester in Peru—and could not be more happy she did!

Step out of your comfort zone and into a life-changing experience with Veritas Christian Study Abroad. It’s worth the risk. Get more info today.

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What You Won’t See on Vacation to Peru

If I would have come down to Peru on vacation I would have never gone to the places or worked with the children I did on that awesome adventure. But with Veritas Christian Study Abroad, I did.

One of the biggest reasons I came to Peru was to see something I could not see in the US. Not a place or an artifact—I wanted to see someone with nothing who still had joy.

This is hard to find in the culture of America. Kids with one hundred toys still have no happiness. They often kick and scream until they get their way. This continues as adults. When something doesn’t go our way, we want to give it up and throw it out. People tend to blame others, even God.

Here in Peru, I knew I would see things differently, but this attitude is experienced not taught.

Peru Mission Trip

While volunteering at the orphanage, I witnessed this first hand. For three of the days I spent there, we had no electricity. These kids had nothing. They played with wheelbarrows, tires, and sticks. They shared rooms with each other with no privacy. They did intense manual field labor.

For breakfast, they eat two potatoes; for lunch, a scoop of pasta; and for dinner, two pieces of bread. They walk to school a mile away, with only few clothes to wear throughout the week. These children seemed to have nothing.

Peruvian children at the orphanageAnd yet, these children had the one thing that brings true joy: Jesus Christ.

They understood what many people miss: even in the midst of having nothing, they have everything—a Savior. Although they do not have family, they have each other.

Whenever I hear someone, even myself, complain I just think back to this orphanage and realize how fortunate I am. I have never met anyone with such joy. It was the most impactful time I had in Peru and the most humbling experience of my entire life.

This wasn’t the only impactful experience during my time in Peru. The Veritas mission trip to mountains brought us to a village of people with next to nothing.

The kids in this village had permanently burned faces because of the intensity of the sun from which they had little relief. We brought them gifts, hot chocolate, and sweet bread. But this is not what impacted me.

Mission trip to Peru Veritas mission trip to Peru

I noticed one of the Veritas girls talking to a group of girls from the village. I went over to listen in. She told the children about God, Jesus, Heaven, and the Bible. The pastor had just given a gospel message, but I don’t think it clicked with them until this moment.

Genuinely interested in knowing more, the girls asked questions only adults would typically ask about God. They had no adult forcing them to listen, and we had no candy to bribe them with either.

They simply wanted to know more.

I pulled a small Spanish Bible from my pocket. One little girl noted, “La Palabra de Dios es muy bonita [The Word of God is very beautiful].”

That really hit home for me. How many Christians take for granted the Word of God and what the Bible truly is and means for us?

We talked with the girls for a little while longer and just before we left, another little girl said, “Que bonita a hablar sobre Jesus [How beautiful to talk about Jesus].”

I will never forget the words of these little girls.

Volunteering at the elementary school in Cusco, Peru

In addition to the orphanage and villages, I helped out the second grade class at a local elementary school several times a week. I loved having this opportunity.

Everyday I walked into the class,  they bombarded me with hugs and love. Their love amazed me. I can barely get a hug from my nieces and nephews, but these kids just wanted to play and hang out with me from the moment we met to the moment I left. In a first-world culture, we often look for the things a person has instead of the person himself. God used these kids to teach me about his love and how I should love him.

God’s love is unconditional—it knows no boundaries and will never let me go.

I should love God and others like these kids love. My love for him should not be because he blesses me or because he gives me gifts. I love him because he loves me, he never forsakes me, and he will always provide for me. I will never forget all these precious children and what they taught me in Peru.


 

Better Your Selfie Study Abroad and Missions Rafael Tudela attends the University of Georgia and studied abroad in Cusco, Peru in fall 2014 with Veritas Christian study Abroad.

Gain a new perspective and witness the faith and joy of children. See what the Lord will teach you, how he will use you, and what unexpected voice will change you. Study abroad and get involved with missions in Peru with Veritas.

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I Thought I Knew Love—Then I Studied Abroad

I thought I knew love, then I studied abroad.

Christian Study Abroad in London

Studying abroad with Veritas in London, I found my definition of love lacked patience, grace, steadfastness, and sacrifice. For my entire life, I have experienced love in a comfortable, familiar place.

Before living in London, I had never been challenged to love people so different from me.

During my program with Veritas Christian Study Abroad, God put me in situations that showed me how to love deeply like Jesus did. I learned that love apart from him is impossible, but with him we can learn to love the different, the least of these, the lost, the local church, and salvation.

Living in London is much different than anything I’ve ever experienced. For the first few days, I felt like a sponge absorbing whatever The Capital would throw my way. After adjusting to navigating the Tube map, cars driving on the left side of the road, and being surrounded by what felt like millions of people at every second, I was able to look around and see the beauty all around me—different, unlike anything I’d ever seen.

Overcoming difference is the first step to really loving. Pride sees differences and compares who does it better… love embraces those differences and finds common ground. 

Overcoming difference is the first step to really loving. Pride sees difference and compares who does it better. Pride refuses to refer to the restroom as the loo or the toilet. Love embraces differences and finds common ground. Pride tells you that you’ll never able to relate because you come from totally different backgrounds and cultures. Love, acceptance, and respect bridge the differences.

One of the greatest ways to show love is through sacrifice. While abroad, I had the opportunity to work at a local church’s homeless ministry. I poured teas and coffee, passed out plates of food, and sat down to eat with homeless men and women.

Mission Work and study abroad in Europe

It was a blessing to serve alongside long-term volunteers. Our Veritas group came to encourage and help them, not take over their ministry. I found this to be one of the best ways to serve cross-culturally on the ‘mission field.’

Encourage, support, and work with people who have been sustaining the ministry for years.

It would have been easy for us to go to a park and pass out water bottles and share Christ with homeless individuals, but I believe it’s more effective to come alongside ministries instead.

During dinner, the woman I sat next suffered from short-term memory loss. She didn’t talk much, but I asked her questions and told her how much I loved her tiny pink plastic Minnie Mouse ring. That made her smile. She poured salad cream all over her meal, and we ate together, and we smiled.

Spending time beside her reminded me of a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird. A young boy, Walter, from a poor family goes to the Finch’s for dinner. During dinner, Walter pours molasses all over his food. The Finch’s son protests, but the noble father Atticus continues treating Walter with respect and dignity.

In these moments, the Lord showed me how to love the least of these.

In these moments, the Lord showed me how to love the least of these. My savior ate with sinners, tax collectors, and outcasts. He offers grace upon grace, rather than judgment. Only the Holy Spirit gives us the capacity to love in this way. When Yvonne poured salad cream all over her meal, when a man spilled the contents of his flask all over the floor, and when we saw him digging through the rubbish after the meal, I learned to love the least of these free from condemnation, full of respect and compassion.

Study Abroad friends in London

Another mission field during study abroad came in the form of American international students who lived in my flat and attend my classes at the University of Roehampton. I laughed as I told my Mission Mentor Shannon how funny it was that the Lord sent my two Christian roommates and me to London to share Christ with so many Americans.

College group travel to England

I engaged in college ministry every day while abroad. Sharing Christ, discipling, and interacting with college students is familiar territory to me—in a way.

For two years, I served as a college intern for a local church near my college campus. Ministry looks much different in a small Southern Baptist college group in comparison to the hodgepodge group of study abroad students in London. Generally, I have been doing campus ministry with like-minded students. In all honesty, I interacted with more lost people in my three-week study abroad than in three years at college.

In London, I learned to love the lost.

Loving Jesus is more than being a good person and going to church—it’s total life transformation.

I learned so much about love from these situations and these people. With the backdrop of a post-Christian society, the story of redemption shines brighter. God used my time in London to affirm and deepen my love for him. In every situation, I saw the goodness and power of the Gospel. Loving Jesus is more than being a good person and going to church—it’s total life transformation.

Through my time abroad, God restored to me the joy of my salvation.

It was a joy and privilege to take part in building the kingdom in London. I am forever thankful to the people who invested in me- my Mission Mentor Shannon and the church family of Trinity West in London.


 

Sightseeing in London Study AbroadKat Pasichnyk is a senior at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. She studied abroad with Veritas in London in summer 2014. Speak with Kat or other Veritas in London alum.

If you want to extend your ministry influence beyond your college campus like Kat did, see where you can go with Veritas Christian Study Abroad. Veritas combines academic study abroad programs for most majors with international mission work and ministry opportunities. Start loving the least of these in your neighborhood and around the world.

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Merry Christmas from Veritas Christian Study Abroad!

The team at Veritas Christian Study Abroad wishes you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Merry Christmas from Veritas Christian Study Abroad

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What We Are Getting Wrong About Prostitution

Imagine you are a teenager under the control of a pimp.

He drops you off at a corner and picks you back up at the end of every night. He takes all your money.

Imagine no freedom.

Imagine not being able to go to the store by yourself—if at all—use a telephone, or walk to school without being followed. Imagine being stolen or sold from your family, crossing the border to a foreign country.

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image via CC Flickr

This is the life of many girls in Costa Rica right now.

I once thought all these girls could choose another lifestyle besides working the corners until I saw this presentation:

A man stood still in the front of the room. A rope bound him. The rope was not all that prevented him from moving. Soon, emotion after emotion covered him to show each thing the prostituted people feel.

Worthless. Broken. Hopeless. Empty.

They value their bodies for nothing, and society does not accept them. They face hate, judgment, sadness, loneliness, and desperation on a daily basis.

image via CC Flickr

These things will keep the prostituted peoples on the street. It is not that they do not want to go anywhere else in life. It is the thought that they do not have what it takes to go anywhere else in life.

Before I came to study abroad in Costa Rica, I did not think much of prostituted people. I have occasionally seen them downtown but never had interactions with them or even thought of having interactions with them. I thought they were all there by choice because they wanted to earn some money rather than work another job.

I judged, yes. I judged without knowing some of the men that control their every move. I judged without thinking about the emotional toll that binds some women and men to the street because they feel they are not good enough for anything else. I judged using the word prostitutes without thinking they are still people too.

I came to Costa Rica through Veritas Christian Study Abroad program not only getting to study, but also participating in missions as well. This weekend, I had an all-day training to learn about prostituted peoples in Costa Rica, what binds them to the streets, and how they are still just normal people too. It sounds so obvious after hearing it, but society is quick to judge by looks that most do not give a thought to what is behind the situation—at least I did not.

After my first time on the streets in San Jose, my eyes opened and my old view shattered.

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Image via CC Flickr

Twelve of us in a van stopped at a park and got out in groups of three. We walked together to strike up conversation with women on the street and offered them coffee and cookies. We ended our conversations with prayer.

It might not seem like much, but sometimes we are the only people in their lives who make conversation with them. A simple act of conversation, coffee, and cookies shows them there are people out there who love and care for them. It was intimidating to walk up to them and start conversation, but it did not take long for me to see the eagerness in their eyes or how much they longed for a simple talk.

Yes, it was hard to hear them talk about their need for work tonight because of the bills due tomorrow. I hated to turn around and see the person I just talked to gone. However, we still cared for them and prayed for them.

After the first night of this ministry, I returned to my room drained.

Drained of all the information that had been thrust into my brain that day. Drained with the stories of women who had committed suicide because they felt they had no other options and stories of kids who were there illegally and under a pimp.

But I was alive.

Alive with the knowledge that these people do not always want to be on the streets and there are people and ministries trying to rescue them. Alive with the thought that I have three more months here to participate in this ministry and see what amazing things can happen within this time period. And alive with a new perspective about a topic I had no right to judge on but still did, and thankfully can now do something about it.

I had never given prostituted peoples much thought. You may not have either. I challenge you to think about why these people are on the streets, and if you are near them, go out of your way to simply have a small conversation. You never know what is going on in their lives that puts them on the streets.

Sometimes, a simple act of love and kindness is all it takes for some to know there is hope.


Kari Kviten Kari Kviten is studying and serving with Veritas Christian Study Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica this fall semester. She is a student at Berea College in Kentucky.

Join students like Kari whose expectations are being shattered and lives are being changed. Engage in international social justice ministry and help victims of trafficking and abuse find worth and freedom. Go to Costa Rica this spring, summer, or fall. See the other Christian study abroad programs Veritas  offers in locations in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Talk to a Veritas rep.

 

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