When I began the ministry portion of the Veritas program, I was almost underwhelmed.
Four days prior to my arrival in Madrid, I had arrived home from a two-week medical mission trip in Haiti. From a pre-medical student perspective, medical clinics earned the gold medal of serving.
Thus, the relationally-minded and less direct mission opportunities in Sevilla perplexed me. I found it difficult to place volunteering at an English fair or a university English club on the same level as medical missions.
My participation in Veritas Christian Study Abroad challenged me and brought me far outside of my comfort zone. From the moment my feet touched Spanish soil, surrounded by foreign streets, routines, and concepts, I have encountered different types of people from Spaniards to Americans to Danish to Argentinians and more. Some have been Christians while others have been agnostic or Muslim.
Through my work at the English fair, I informed the surrounding community about the new Christian school, and connected our missions mentors with local Spaniards for more ministry opportunities. While frustrating to a point, we still sowed seeds—we just couldn’t immediately see the fruits of our labor.
Now I know our ministry helped lay the foundation for future ministry.
We prayed over the actual foundation of the school that will house children learning English, art, music, science, and most importantly, the love of our Savior!
As I experienced more and more in Sevilla, my world became bigger with more things for
me to think and see and try to reconcile with my world beliefs.
I spoke to Sharon Owens, my missions mentor, on several occasions about how uncomfortable Spain had made me. I felt as though this experience challenged everything I knew and believed—even the way I saw myself. She directed me towards the book of James. Although I was trying to figure everything out, this questioning and doubting of what I knew was actually helping me grow in my maturity, faith, and love towards others.
This experience took my perspective outside Western culture and my American ideas of faith and Christianity. I saw my faith for its biblical truth and theology without having to look through a cultural lens.
After this Christian study abroad program with Veritas, I have gained patience with myself and others. Now, I understand that learning and adapting is a process. You must actively seek to understand and respect your surroundings and see the God breath in every person.
Through engaging in these ministries, I realized my short-term work with these organizations paved a way for long-term results.
My interactions with each person, however short and insignificant they seemed, accomplished the greatest amount of good in the smallest amount of time in the most significant way.
After doing missions in Spain, I realize cross-cultural ministry cannot stop at short
term. It takes consistency and relationships. Charity is not the only form of ministry nor is
manual labor. The laid-back pace of life in Spain taught me to slow down, savor, and take things in. The passion of the people showed me to seek adventure and beauty in each smile
and street and sunbeam around me.
While I have been far removed from the familiar, I have discovered the beauty of life and fallen more in love with the people my Savior has created. I have embraced my times of doubt and discomfort and taken to the words of James, knowing that the more uncomfortable I am with the world around me, the more I must rely on my faith and the stronger my love for Christ will become.
Even though there were moments where I was discourage beyond help it seemed, I learned more about myself. I know I have greater capacity for compassion and empathy than I realized, and patience is something I will always be learning.
As an individual constantly seeking adventure and new experiences, my time in Spain
with my mission mentors and my fellow Veritas peers proved to be more than I could have imagined. It was not what I expected in any capacity, but it challenged and stretched me in ways I didn’t know I could be challenged and stretched.
I feel a sense of humility and gratitude at being given such an experience and can only pray other students have as meaningful as an encounter with such a vibrant culture.
Never have I been more aware of the world past my front porch. The five weeks I
spent in Spain overwhelmed me with new experiences and taught me to take life as it
comes, with my eyes fixed on my Savior.
This post is by Maddison McBurnie, a Veritas Christian Study Abroad student who completed a program this summer in Sevilla, Spain.
Have you ever been “let down” by an experience? Have your worldviews ever been challenged? Get your world rocked and your expectations shattered when you study abroad and do missions with Veritas.
Veritas Christian Study Abroad offers a unique spiritual component to an accredited study abroad experience. Don’t just earn credit toward your degree, change lives, including your own. Find out how on veritasabroad.com.