Experiencing Discipleship in Mission

Experiencing discipleship through mission is one of the most effective ways to develop campus catalysts and world changers.

I am in Mexico City where I am training new directors for next summer’s Global Programs (GPs) and Global Urban Treks (Treks). As I block out the Spanish in order to write this article, I am reminded of why I do what I do.

GPs and Treks are intense, experiential learning environments that offer the opportunity for students and staff to grow deeply and quickly in six weeks, more than they would on campus. Because they are accosted by culture shock, new sights/sounds/smells, and a compressed team environment, there is an invitation from God to quickly go deep with their team, with the culture, with themselves, and with God.

These Trek participants experience radical changes:

  • A Filipino-American student went on the Manila Trek and was utterly transformed in her ethnic identity. She then returned to campus as a renewed leader in her Filipino InterVarsity chapter and discipled other peers in their identity. 
  • A shy student went on an Asia GP and lived with a local roommate in the dorm. As they lived together and participated in a cultural-lingual exchange, he shared God's truth with his roommate who began to follow Jesus. He went back to campus knowing how to initiate in relationships and cross cultures. Even though he was a senior, he decided to live in the dorms. Because of his witness, his hall was transformed.
  • On a Middle East GP, a student learns about the power of prayer in spiritual battle. She returned to campus and led the InterVarsity chapter in a deeper prayer life through prayers of intercession and how to listen to God. The way the chapter reached the campus was completely renewed and led by the Spirit.
  • An InterVarsity staff member who was planting a chapter alone directed a GP and brought five of his core students, along with several others from different campuses. After a summer of crossing cultures, boldly initiating relationships and relying on God's power, these five students were propelled out onto their campus. Their chapter grew to 50 that year and reached various subcultures on campus. The staff person no longer felt alone in his mission on campus and was strengthened in his leadership. 

Discipleship in the context of mission, or experientially crossing cultures for the sake of God's love and truth, is an effective crucible for developing staff and students. We do not seek to enter other countries to use them for this end, but discipleship is a strong byproduct of participating in these programs.

It is my joy to strengthen students and staff in international contexts. Not only do they become better global citizens and better-informed Americans, but they also return to campus as strong cross-cultural and high-initiating leaders.

These three videos highlight how discipleship takes place on the Global Urban Trek to create missional students. See how students and staff move through the Discipleship Cycle when discipleship happens at unexpected times and in unexpected places.


Find out more about InterVarsity's Global Urban Trek

About the Author
National Director, Global Urban Trek

Marissa is the National Director of InterVarsity's Global Urban Trek. She has served as InterVarsity staff for six years. Marissa lives in San Diego, CA and loves to spend time with her nieces.