Without a doubt, studying abroad in London, England brought about tremendous personal and spiritual growth in my life. This is due largely to the opportunities provided to me by the Veritas Abroad program.
Through meeting with my missions mentor, serving the city at outreach events, or just being alone with God, I recognize many instances that played an essential role to my spiritual and personal development while abroad. I hope the lessons I learned abroad will be helpful in my life as a student and member of a campus ministry.
My missions mentor, Verity, helped foster my spiritual growth while studying abroad in London. The day after I landed in London, England, Verity met with me, and we had follow-up meetings roughly every week after that.
Verity immediately showed her willingness to help by buying clothes and other short-term necessities for a student whose luggage had gotten lost during the flight. She always had plenty of suggestions of things to see and do in London and frequently offered to go sightseeing with us during the weekends. But Verity is more than a tour guide—her selflessness, compassion, and availability blessed me during my Veritas Abroad program. Verity’s support and guidance for foreigners inspired me to offer more of my time and resources to people who need it in my community, especially the large population of international students on my campus.
In our meetings, Verity challenged us with scripture. I set my focus on three verses specifically: 1 John 1:5, Matthew 5:16, and Psalm 139:12.
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
The 1 John verse reminded me of the pure and holy God I serve. He does not deal in sin or death or fear at all—only good and righteous things. He is radiant in his holiness and spreads his goodness over the universe. This became one of my favorite reasons to praise the Lord during my time abroad.
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
A mentor from my home campus ministry sent this Matthew 5 verse to me. This command from Jesus reminded me of my role in life no matter where I go; I need to reflect the goodness God radiates so I may bring him glory. The verse gave me a sense of purpose every day, whether I was simply attending lecture and working on my class assignments, or spending a day wandering around the city.
“The night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.”
Psalm 139 became a source of encouragement for me during rare moments of fear and discouragement. This verse emphasizes the power behind God’s purity and radiance—God’s love overcomes the evil and uncertainty of the world. This truth comforted me whenever I got lost wandering around the city or felt overwhelmed by the darkness in it.
Because of my Mission Mentor’s encouragement, I had these scriptural truths to guide me and offer me wisdom during my time studying abroad.
Another source of spiritual development in England came from the variety of outreach and fellowship events I participated in, including Bible studies, soccer club, and street outreach
In each of these events, I played a small role—passing out construction paper or giving a high-five or even just watching others care for drunks. Yet, I feel these experiences helped me to get outside my comfort zone and trust God will use even the smallest acts of service for his glory.
Small acts of service make great acts of outreach possible.
This is an invaluable lesson I will no doubt bring back to my campus ministry.
While the time spent in service and with my mentor helped to develop me spiritually, my greatest growth came out of the time I spent one-on-one with the Lord while abroad.
God used this study abroad experience to both grow my independence and make me realize my dependence in different ways. The trip forced me to be completely responsible for my own time, transportation, and navigation, all of which may be important to manage on my own later in life. However, I realized to a greater extent that I am absolutely dependent on God for my provision and protection.
I experienced firsthand how God is with me, even if I’m 4,000 miles away from home. I have held each of these truths as I have come home and look forward to applying them to new situations in my life.
God has been faithful in using this challenging (and at times frightening) experience for my good and his glory. In my relationships abroad, in my service experience, and in my time with him, he has proved to be the same good Father and mighty King that he is in Lexington, Kentucky—and what a joyful realization that is!
This is a post by Annie Bruner, a student at the University of Kentucky, who studied abroad and did missions on the Veritas London Summer II 2014 program.
Faith can mean taking risks. Taking risks gets you out of your comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone promotes growth. Growth produces faith and changes the world. Imagine the personal and spiritual development that comes from taking a leap? Take the leap today. Apply to study and serve abroad.