An Open Letter to College Students: Pt. 2

by Spence Shelton

Reasons You Can’t Go

This is Part 2 of an open letter to any college student at home right now trying to figure out if you are really about to spend your whole summer with a bunch of people you don’t know doing a bunch of “ministry” you don’t know how to do. 

Part 1 was about why you need to go, and this part intends to help you move past the obstacles that may be preventing you from going. I spent a summer overseas in East Asia between my sophomore and junior year and I had to face a couple of these. Here are the three most common I hear from students about why they cannot spend their summer on God’s mission:

“ I can’t raise that kind of money!” – Maybe the amount is scary, or maybe you feel weird asking other people to pay for you to go do ministry somewhere. My wife and I both did summer missions projects and both of us had to raise thousands of dollars to go. We learned a couple of things: First, more people than you may realize would be excited to invest into you AND into God’s work in the place you are going. I was surprised by how many people were more than willing to say yes because of how much they valued me and my personal growth as a follower of Christ. Second, nothing grew our faith like raising money because we put ourselves in a place where we had to say “this won’t happen unless God provides.” Support raising may be one of the biggest faith building exercises you ever undertake! Why would you not at least step into that kind of an opportunity? God never called you to a safe, risk-averse life anyways. Trust that he will provide and then start calling and sending letters to everyone you know and everyone they know!

“I need to make money” – First, let me acknowledge how real this is for some students. If your ability to pay tuition next fall hinges on how much you make this summer, I get that this is a huge issue for you. If it doesn’t, this probably isn’t as big of a deal as you are making it out to be. If you are so driven that you are questioning whether or not to go on a life-changing summer adventure because you need to work, then I promise you will be one of the people that gets a job after you graduate because you have something called a work ethic. Employers like work ethic and grades which means you’ll probably work every year for the next 40. So, you can spend this summer working full-time in God’s mission. AND, many summer projects require you to get a day job anyway. So stop worrying. If you need the summer money for real, talk with your ministry leader about opportunities that could involve you working a job while on the summer project. They are out there.

“My parents don’t want me to go” – Ok this one can be tough. If you parents aren’t Christians, the idea that you would go and spend a summer telling people about Jesus may feel like a total waste to them. And, if you are still under their provision and authority, the “honor your parents,” still applies. One of our staff members here at Mercy had this situation and for her, she felt like the way she could honor her parents while still honoring the Lord was to make sure her parents understood how important the Summer Missions project was to her. So she brought it up often enough to show her parents this wasn’t a random brainstorm she had that would fade by the end of the week like when she was a little child. I’m not suggesting you “pester” your parents, but instead show them your seriousness. Show them your plan for raising money and, if necessary, that you won’t ask them for any money to go. Show them the trustworthiness of the organization and leaders you would be going with. If you want to be treated like an adult in this decision, act like one in the way you bring it to them. And through it all, pray that God would open your parents to the idea. My own parents were skeptical of me going overseas for a summer missions project, but by the end of it they had developed a new way to support missions and continued to financially support my trip leader, who raised his full salary every year, for the next 14 years! Who knows what God may do in your parents through this summer opportunity he’s put before you!

College student, don’t waste your summer. A Summer Mission is such a great opportunity to grow as a disciple of Jesus and to learn to leverage your whole life for the mission of God – don’t miss out on it!