I thought I knew love, then I studied abroad.
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 a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.