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Gordon-Conwell Students Engage Globally During Summer Travels

May 18, 2011

This summer, 13 students will embark on extended missions trips as part of Gordon-Conwell’s Overseas Missions Practicum (OMP), in which students receive a supervised field-based learning experience in a cross-cultural ministry.

Students will spend at least six weeks in Zimbabwe, the West Bank, Central Asia, Austria, India or Southeast Asia. Their ministries will be as diverse as their locations: working with house churches and church plants, teaching at theological institutions, praying for unreached people groups and participating in relief and development work.

The motto of the OMP program is “short-term projects, long-term goals.” To facilitate a sense of continuity, the program has built partnerships with ministries that receive students each summer. For instance, this year, three students will travel to work with the Shan, an unreached people group in Southeast Asia. In 2001, Gordon-Conwell made a commitment to send at least one OMP team to the Shan each summer for the next 20 years and to find 20 graduates during that same period to work with the Shan as long-term missionaries. Already, 41 students and alumni have traveled to the Shan as part of the OMP teams.

The OMP program also draws on Gordon-Conwell’s global alumni connections. This summer, two students will teach at New Theological College in India, which was founded by a Gordon-Conwell graduate. Four other students will be partnering with Theological College of Zimbabwe, serving under Gordon-Conwell alumni now teaching there.

The seeds for future missions partnerships are also currently being planted on campus as international friendships form.

Brie Sheard and Alli Stroud are heading to Austria this summer to help with a church plant. As they prepared for their trip, they found a valuable resource in their friend and fellow classmate, Austrian student Ewald Ring (M.Div., ‘11).

“It emphasizes the community aspect of OMP,” said Brie. “You can see how God orchestrates these things. It’s different hearing about the country from an Austrian rather than a book. To hear from a national that you are needed is very empowering.”

People are surprised to hear that she is going to Western Europe as a missionary, but Brie describes Austria as a post-Christian country.

“People feel like they have heard the gospel and it hasn’t worked,” Brie said.

Ewald says his country needs deep theology and views his Gordon-Conwell education as a way to help achieve this. He moves back to Vienna in June and looks forward to meeting up with his fellow students.

“I’m excited and thankful that Brie and Alli are going to Austria,” Ewald said. “I hope to build more of these partnerships with Gordon-Conwell in the future.”