It’s Narnia here in Southern Colorado. While we wait for the calendar, and Aslan, to bring spring, my thoughts range beyond the snow to the summer sure to come. A friend wrote recently about an idea I’m eager to try, once the melt arrives.
A cross-cultural superhero, Jon, explains, “One of my passions is backpacking, rafting, anything outdoors really.”
[Does that have anything to do with connecting with Muslims? Turns out it does!]
Many of the international students Jon works with are young men from North Africa and the Middle East. Before oil was discovered in their countries, their families lived a very simple, often rural, lifestyle. Backpacking may not be part of their culture, but they know the lure of the wilderness, where they can set up tents and get away from it all.
“And for the guys, they like adventure. They all come wanting to explore this country and end up sitting in class most of the time. Most. . .are bored!” The hiking and camping trips Jon organizes for international students give them something exciting to do.
These trips also provide handles for volunteers who want to get their feet wet in international student ministry. They have the chance to make new friends. Some end up bonding with the students on the long road trips, forming relationships that develop further from there.
Getting away from homework, routine, and the business of daily life also encourages greater reflection and fosters deeper connections. “Something amazing happens around the campfire,” says Jon. “Almost always the conversations turn to faith.”
Want to join me in multiplying this idea? I just emailed some nearby friends who engage with international students. This summer, come to Colorado and join us in the great outdoors! Or organize your own day hike or camping trip. Give me a shout if you need help finding a connecting point with international students.