Many of you already know that this past summer, we hosted our first 2 Serving At Risk Families ministry interns. They were here during a very hectic time in ministry so you didn’t here much about WHAT they did, just that they were here, we kept them alive, and then sent them back home in one piece. Mission accomplished, right? Well, I wanted to take some time to explain why we had interns, what they did while they were here and how it fits into our ministry model.
While the concept wasn’t necessarily new to Missy and I, we never really experienced an internship ourselves nor had we ever hosted interns. Some businesses might view interns as a nuisance or a “necessary evil” as the result of a partnership with a school or other business. In the ministry realm, some might view interns as glorified babysitters or “helping hands” to increase manpower for a short period of time. At Servants, Inc. our main objective is to extend an option a bit more “involved” than coming to Guatemala on a 10 day trip. We explain to every team that comes down to serve with us that “what you are about to experience isn’t everyday ministry for us.”
Some folks might come down on a team and help a family by building a retaining wall to prevent their land from washing away during rainy season. When the team leaves, we don’t keep looking for houses on the hillside that need more walls built and spend the rest of the year doing so. 1) we don’t have that kind of manpower or monetary resources but 2) our job “on the ground” is to build relationships with families and the community in order to share with them their identity in Christ. So, while a short term teams are great at helping us with small (and large) projects to bless the community, our internship program allows others to come down and see what happens in-between teams. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video we put together with the help of one of our interns about providing nutrition baskets for some of our malnourished families.
Additionally, the internship program helps others learn what the team dynamic is like and the team gets to learn more about the intern. The added benefit is that both sides get to see if a longer term commitment would be ideal, sort of like a “trial basis” for anyone who might be thinking about jumping into ministry with us. Interns get to sit in on staff meetings, join us during our monthly prayer time, prepare for and host a short-term team, share during our team bible study, and visit and spend time with all of our families! We also try to find ways they can experience the culture in ways that isn’t possible while on a short-term team. It’s a great way to experience life in Guatemala and life with Servants, without the longterm commitment.
Outside of the experience in country, interns also get to experience fundraising, trip preparation, culture shock, re-entry (going back to your country of origin), and ministry education. While an internship is only for a couple months, there is a lot of preparation that has to go into it. This also includes a formal application and interview process before you are even accepted!
Internships fit into our ministry model as one part of an overall experience designed to help others seek God’s vision for their lives. When Missy and I felt God’s call to be missionaries, we were lead through a series of steps to confirm that this is what God is really calling us to and believe it is crucial for anyone else who thinks they are being called to become career missionaries as well. We did not have an internship or apprenticeship (more on that in another post) program to take “baby steps” into the process. We did however focus the majority of our “planning” on seeking God in prayer. Many people asked us along the way, “how do you truly KNOW that this is what you are supposed to be doing?”
Well, I don’t think anyone can KNOW 100% in the beginning. However, you CAN ask God to show you clearly if this is what He is guiding us to do. The hesitation comes in when you realize by the world’s standards it is a crazy notion: sell everything you have and give to the poor. The young rich ruler ran away crying when Jesus told him to do so (Luke 18:18-30). However, when you continually seek God’s wisdom in making choices and you take steps like being an intern, you get to hear God’s voice more clearly to discern if it is a calling or just a feeling.
To close, I want to share with you a short interview that his college did with him for the school paper when he returned from his internship this summer:
-Why did you decide to intern with Servants?
I began my journey to an internship with Servants following a short-term mission trip through another organization in July 2016. With a heart for and a calling to full-time international missions, I contacted the missionary I worked with on that trip looking for an opportunity to return to Guatemala again for a longer period of time and to work with a ministry that fit my long-term ministry goals and calling. I was shortly led to get in contact with Servants. When I learned about the SARF ministry and its long-term impact on the lives of families, I was extremely interested in the opportunity to serve as an intern.
-What was the most beneficial to you of the experience?
One of the most beneficial experiences of my internship was the many opportunities to meet & spend time with the SARF families, to hear their stories, and learn what steps the SARF team takes to meet their needs. I was also blessed with the freedom to renew relationships with missionaries and Guatemalan friends who I had met on trips past, along with the numerous chances to improve my mastery of the Spanish language.
-What would you tell someone else who is thinking about being an intern with Servants?
I would encourage anyone thinking about interning with Servants to, first of all, do it! Approach the experience with flexibility and as a learner. Don’t be afraid to meet new people and do new things, embrace the chance to join in as part of God’s work, and to experience firsthand how Servants does ministry on a day-to-day, behind-the-scenes basis.
-How has your internship better helped you discern God’s calling in your life?
My internship with Servants has further solidified my sense of calling to full-time international missions and has taught me valuable lessons about what it takes to be in full-time ministry. I have learned more about what direction God is leading me in ministry, and I have had my heart renewed with an even stronger love for the culture, language, and people of Guatemala.
-If you had to do it all over again, would you?
If I had the chance to go back and do it all over again, I definitely would!
If you or someone you know is interested at checking out this “internship thing with Servants,” simply reply to this post and let us know!