News

Missions Bootcamp 2014

by Office of Marketing | February 26, 2014
Students share foreign foods
Valley Forge Christian College (VFCC) held its 11th annual Missions Bootcamp on February 7 and 8. Missions Bootcamp was started in 2003 under the leadership of Janie Wead and Bill '61 and Hilda Bradney. Each year, Bootcamp has served to prepare teams to be sensitive to the customs and value systems of different countries and to prepare students for the experience of entering a new culture. This year, Bootcamp was the first VFCC event held at The Conference Center at Valley Forge, which was generously donated to VFCC earlier this year, and is located four miles from the college. 

In total, there were nine teams in attendance, 89 students and faculty and nine students studying Intercultural Studies, who will be participating in internships around the world. The spring teams will be traveling to Eurasia, Romania and Nicaragua. Additionally, VFCC's Concert Choir will be going to Italy this spring. Other teams will be traveling over the summer to Asia, Greece and Northern Ireland.

“We are about training and equipping the body of Christ to care for the lost and to purposefully activate them for ministry,” said Rev. Jennifer Duncan, the Chair of the Intercultural Studies Department. “That is part of what is accomplished at Bootcamp." 

Bootcamp was originally run by the Intercultural Studies faculty, however, over time the responsibilities have shifted to the Missions Committee, this year led by Rev. Duncan and 12 students. Each of the student team leaders played a large role in facilitating the details of Bootcamp, which added another element to their leadership training and preparation. 

On Friday evening, due to dangerous weather conditions, the teams remained at VFCC for the first leg of the event which was held at Solomon’s Porch. Bootcamp began with a planned delay in the schedule as a first lesson to team members that, overseas, schedules at social gatherings are not always fixed. Leaders from several teams led a study on biblical servanthood and in a spirit of reverence, each team participated in a foot washing ceremony and partook in communion together. At the end of the night, each team was given an opportunity to share the mission of their trip and was lifted up in prayer. 

Rev. Duncan expressed the crucial value of the events of the first night; “Friday evening is spent in consecration to the Lord, in specific, concentrated prayer, in unity with each other and in spiritual readiness. The Holy Spirit is given much room to challenge and change us.” 

Bootcamp continued Saturday morning at The Conference Center at Valley Forge. The events of Saturday revolved around cultural exposure and sensitivity training. VFCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Kevin Beery, led the teams in a devotional on sacrificial living in ministry. Dr. Beery served with his family as missionaries to Bulgaria for 19 years. Students were then challenged with the opportunity to enter into a time of foreign styles of prayer and worship despite language barriers and cultural differences. Team building exercises and games taught students to work around these barriers to accomplish goals. The highlight of Bootcamp, and perhaps the most difficult exercise, was the challenge to politely receive and eat foreign and unfamiliar foods. 

“We always enjoy watching students eating things that aren't their normal fare, like fish heads, eel, worms and bugs, and then teaching them etiquette in cultural situations,” Rev. Duncan said. 

The day concluded with lunch provided at the conference center and an opportunity for students to submit questions anonymously to a panel of missionaries who were glad to share wisdom from their life experiences. 

“[Issues of] cultural awareness, safety, missionary cues, dos and don'ts, etiquette and gender, among other topics, were discussed and illustrated through games, team building exercises and scenarios acted out,” said Rev. Duncan, describing Bootcamp on Saturday. 

To see the blog for Romania, go to: romaniatcmissionstrip.wordpress.com
To see the blog for Nicaragua, go to: lovefornicaragua.com