About 70 students interned in nearly 30 countries this summer as part of the WorldWide Witness program.
WorldWide Witness was founded in 2001 to act as ACU’s summer mission internship program. Students typically stay with a host family to work in the community according to their spiritual gifts and talents, said WorldWide Witness director Larry Henderson.
“It’s designed for students to go and spend three months with missionaries in some setting around the world,” Henderson said. “We’ve got more than 60 locations – we don’t go to all of them every year, but all of them have missionaries ready and eager to accept interns.”
The program differs from other common mission trips in at least two major ways: first, the length of time spent is considerably longer than most summer missions. Second, the students tend to remain in the same city or village for most, if not all, of their time in the country. Students traveled to such international countries as Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand and U.S. cities like New York City and Portland, Oregon.
“Our interns typically go to one place and stay there,” he said. “It’s not like they’re on a tour to see different places. They might visit neighboring countries for a variety of reasons, but that would be the exception rather than the rule.”
Bailey Cate, junior communications major from Fremont, Nebraska, worked alongside a local church in Singapore for nine weeks.
“When you go on a week-long mission trip, it’s difficult to make and maintain relationships with the people you work with,” Cate said. “But I was there for two and a half months. Those people are a part of my life, and I talk to them all the time.”
Students participating in the program take a three-credit upper-level Bible course in the spring to prepare for the upcoming summer.
“The course is the heart of our training,” Henderson said. “It teaches team dynamics and spiritual disciplines – all sorts of interesting things that help to form our interns and prepare them for their trip.”
Amy Pinegar, junior nursing major from Chesapeake, Virginia, said the class was a valuable part of the experience.
“The best part about it is forming relationships with your team,” she said. “You learn about the culture and about your teammates, so you can each bring in your own strengths.”
Pinegar spent her summer in Bangkok, Thailand, with a few other nursing students, working alongside a local hospital.
“We did all sorts of different ministries while we were there,” she said. “My trip was mostly focused on medicine – trying to integrate nursing into our mission work.”
Henderson said that despite only debriefing a few students so far, this summer’s program seems to have been an enjoyable one for the students. Cate agreed.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to see another part of the world and how God is working in that part of the world,” Cate said. “It’s easy to just think about yourself – you get wrapped up in school and everything that’s going on in your life, but it’s so rewarding to see the things going on around the globe.”
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Pinegar said. “Even though I was there for nine weeks, it was hard to say goodbye.”
Students can begin the application process or get more information by visiting www.worldwidewitness.org.