Nov 3, 2009

Students take ‘Next Steps’ into missions

by Megan House

Casting homework and typical weekend activities aside, Liberty students representing all majors and ages spent the weekend away from campus. Surrounded by vibrant fall colors, they were able to focus on where God is calling them, and how to take the next steps into missions.

Next Steps Retreat was hosted by Light Ministries Oct. 23-25 at the Master’s Inn in Altavista, Va. Mentors from North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania traveled to the retreat to pair up with Liberty students for the weekend. Students and mentors attended seminars, which challenged students to evaluate their spiritual life, their involvement in the local church and the next steps to be sent to the missions field.

Director of Light Ministries Tom Nylander said Liberty provides classes that prepare students for career service in missions, but there is more that students need to know.

“I believe Next Steps provides a format that is different than what we have on campus,” Nylander said. “At Next Steps, there’s an opportunity to really retreat away from our busy schedules and have a more intimate, safer and quieter environment to hear from God.”

Next Steps is designed to help students know how to get to the field. Nylander said many students know what to do once they are on the field, but they have no idea how to get there.

“Hopefully, Next Steps as well as our missions conference will help students,” Nylander said.

Junior missions major Debbie Samson said she wanted to attend this retreat to clarify what God wants her to do. The one-on-one mentoring with a missionary who has been on the field was very personal, and helped answer and explore new questions.

“The weekend helped me ask a lot of questions that I haven’t thought about before,” Samson said.

Cindy Ely, a mentor from Serving in Missions (SIM), traveled from Charlotte, N.C., with a heart to mobilize young people for missions. She enjoys fellowship with students who have an interest in missions, and looks for opportunities to encourage them. As a third time mentor for Next Steps, Ely encourages students to attend.

“If you’re considering going into missions, it’s a valuable tool and a good opportunity,” Ely said.

Next Steps originally started as a missions retreat for college students, sponsored by the missions organization CrossWorld. Nylander took students to attend the conference several times, and eventually decided to hold a retreat apart from CrossWorld. In fall 2003, Light Ministries held its first Next Steps retreat. Since then, around 260 students have been through Next Steps.

Nylander said there was an obvious need for a Next Steps retreat near campus.

“We saw way too many Liberty students that were saying they were called to full-time missions, but for one reason or another, they were struggling to get to the field,” Nylander said.
The retreat is really designed for students who are not only considering full-time missions, but are planning on it, according to Nylander.

Another Next Steps retreat will be held Feb. 12-14.

For more information call (434) 582-2634.

Contact Megan House at mhouse2@liberty.edu.


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