Enhancing Ministry Training
Today’s MLC students are on the move. They volunteer for Daylight USA ministry trips all over the country. They participate in immersion programs in China or Argentina. They teach for a year in Russia, Peru, Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean.
Each journey integrates academic and experiential learning. Each enlarges students’ perspectives and enhances their preparation for ministry, which is—after all—a global endeavor. Now MLC offers another educational opportunity: a semester abroad program.
Students enroll for a semester at a university outside the United States and take courses that transfer back to MLC. Afterward, they’ll graduate and be available for assignment—or matriculation at the seminary—with the rest of their class. “On-time graduation is one of our goals,” says Director of International Services Thomas Hunter DMLC ’75. “So we encourage students who are interested in studying abroad to begin planning for it already their first year here.”
Juniors Crystal Carmichael and Erin Feddersen, who are studying in Ireland this semester, as well as Collin Wenzel, who will study in Germany next semester, began preparing for their semester abroad soon after they entered college.
These students will tell you it takes a fair amount of initiative and courage to embark on an entire semester away from everything they know. Collin, for instance, admits that he’s never even flown. But the blessings are worth it.
“There are so many benefits to studying abroad,” says International Coordinator Megan Kassuelke, who recently visited Carmichael and Feddersen in Limerick. “Gaining confidence and maturity, broadening your knowledge of other countries and your respect for other cultures, increasing your interpersonal communication skills, and improving your language proficiency.”
Professor Hunter adds to the list: “Increasing problem solving and critical thinking skills, and recognizing your own cultural values and biases. Any experience like this—where you’re thrown into a completely different environment—promotes personal, professional, and spiritual growth.
“Spiritually,” he continues, “the students find that they have to get into their Bibles on their own, because there may not be a WELS church nearby. They study the Word alone and with one another. They learn to explain and defend their faith to others, both Christians and non-Christians.”
Semester abroad experiences may be new on our campus, but they dovetail smoothly with MLC’s mission: “With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the college desires to strengthen the student in a consecrated spirit of love for God and his Word; to educate the student for faithful, capable, intelligent citizenship in today’s world; to assist the student in acquiring the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed for service in the church and for lifelong learning; and to encourage the student in developing and demonstrating a heart for service in the church, community, and world.