Taylor’s unique January term (J-term) offers students the opportunity to take an intensive three-week class on campus, or go abroad on a wide variety of academic study abroad trips and service trips, called Lighthouse trips. The Lighthouse program has been sending students abroad to learn and build their faith through global service for over 50 years.
Director of TWO Kiplangat Cheruiyot Bii sees participation in these trips as a type of worship, a form of participating in God’s work as a response to His love, grace, and holiness. Students are encouraged to approach these mission trips as learning and serving opportunities, not as avenues to simply visit other countries.
TWO has strong relationships with the local ministry partners on the ground in the communities they work with. After a trip, the TWO office and the leaders of an outreach community will communicate what went well and what needs work. In doing this, deep relationships are formed and serve as avenues for God’s work.
There are debates over how beneficial some mission trips are, and TWO keeps this in mind.
“We are very conscious of the idea that if you just go and do things without involving people that are already there, then your chances of wasting resources are very high,” said Bii. “We want to be good stewards of our time and resources, so that means that we are very intentional.”
Three Weeks Spent in Community
While internal preparation is the key factor to long-lasting relationships on the mission field, spending more time in a community can help those community intentions become realized.
“The longer you stay, the higher the likelihood that you get more benefits and build deeper relationships that last a long time,” said Bii. “I say likelihood because you can stay for a long time and gain nothing or accomplish nothing. It depends on how present you are.”
Serving together on a team is key to helping students learn more about God, themselves, and others. The collective learning and processing can be far more powerful than individual introspection in these settings.
Elias Seeman ‘24 traveled to Spain over Jterm, on a trip that combined the class Contemporary Christian Belief (part of the Foundational Core) with ministry to college students.
“Since Spain is a unique trip where students are both participating in lighthouse ministry and taking a class, I learned a lot,” he said. “Taking Contemporary Christian Belief in that context was an amazing experience because it forced you to take what you learned in the classroom out onto the streets and actually apply it in conversations. That made the learning so much more real.”
The preparation process can take up to eleven months. Interested students fill out an application in the spring with questions about their faith and intentions. Once accepted onto a team, students take a class during the fall semester and meet as a team to prepare them culturally and theologically. Students must raise money for their own trip expenses.
“We wanted to go into the trip as prepared as we could be,” said Seaman. “When we got to Spain, this preparation proved valuable. It helped us engage with the students we were with in deeper ways and provided avenues for conversations.”
After returning to the United States, the teams undergo debriefing conversations to help them process their experiences.