Debrief has come and gone. We had all 203 students return safely albeit a little rougher looking than when they left. One whole team was suffering from a lice infestation, but we were able to get them treated and kept their stuff away from the others. Other than that, some bug bites, and a good bit of weight loss all around, everyone was pretty good health-wise!
We bring the teams back to Alabama for a debrief because many of these students have experienced things few believers in the Western world experience and we want them to be able to process what God did through them and in them during the summer. We teach them how to tell their stories well, how to handle reverse culture shock, what the next steps are in their spiritual growth, how to mobilize others for missions, and we also share other opportunities for the future (Journeyman, Seminary, and AOT). By covering these topics with the students, we hope to be able to keep them from getting overwhelmed when returning home and to college. I remember the first night in the hotel room after getting out of boot camp. I was overwhelmed with all the options of what I could do with all that new found freedom. I could go to the bathroom whenever I wanted. I could watch a movie. The options seemed endless, haha! And for some of these students there is a similar sense of being overwhelmed because of returning to such a drastically different culture and environment. It can be easy to return and just be mad with American culture’s materialism and many Christian’s lack of a desire for reaching the lost. That mentality is not healthy so we try to teach them how to readjust well and how to encourage others to be involved in the great commission.
We also had a time of reporting where teams got to share about their summers. This is my favorite part of debrief because I get to hear some of the amazing things God is doing among the unreached and hard to reach. We also collect reports from the team leaders about the ministry done during the summer so that we can help the supervisors be more strategic and in order to be able to report on how much ministry was done. It can be an encouraging report to hear how much work was done. When all the numbers are in, I will give y’all that report. Last year an equivalent of over 30 years of ministry was conducted over the summer. In other words, It would have taken 1 person 30 years to do the same amount of ministry.
Please pray that these students would continue to seek God in prayer, in His Word, and in fellowship with the local church. Pray that they would seek out opportunities on their college campuses to develop relationships with international students from unreached and hard to reach people groups and that they would be able to share the Gospel with them. Pray that this past summer would have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives instead of being just a fun thing they did back in college. Pray that the Lord would send more young people to go to the unreached and hard to reach.