“Making the Globe Our Classroom” is more than just a tagline for the Life Pacific College Global Education Program. It’s the heart of everything they do.
Missions trips have always been a part of student life at Life Pacific College (LPC, also called LIFE Bible College). Today, however, a growing number of students are interested in taking their education to the street with more frequent and often longer trips outside the U.S.
It’s a national trend, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), whose findings show that 260,327 U.S. students studied abroad in the 2008-2009 school year. While that number shows a slight dip from the previous school year, IIE says that 37 percent more students that year sought practical work experiences as part of their study-abroad programs.
During the 2010-2011 school year, 18.3 percent of LPC on-campus students participated in a total of six cross-cultural teams, both in the U.S. and abroad. The growing interest in global education and hands-on involvement is thrilling to LPC administrators and faculty.
“We are in the midst of a transformation of the world into a global community,” asserts LPC President Robert Flores. Leaders of the future must be comfortable in that new community, and Robert believes LPC’s first-ever extended study-abroad experience in spring 2012 will help prepare students toward that goal. The first LPC study-abroad program will send 15 students to Israel as part of a 12-week online cohort. Students will also serve as ministry interns there.
Students interested in global learning experiences often begin with short-term missions trips that offer them exposure to different cultures and types of ministry. Before a student has the interest and confidence to remain in a location long term, they must first discover where they fit and how God can use them there, LPC Global Education Director Karen Tremper tells Foursquare.org.
As students become familiar with locations and people in other places, they are ready for the next step of their global education. Karen describes this level as immersion, a process where a student’s interest grows from a short-term experience to a possible internship or study-abroad program.
Because LPC is a ministry of The Foursquare Church, students there have a distinct advantage over other students seeking international training.
“We are an internationally focused ministry,” Karen affirms, “and that connection with the Foursquare field gives students a definite advantage—domestically, internationally and professionally.”
Through Foursquare Missions International (FMI), students have potential access to thousands of locations and ministries worldwide where they can extend their learning and share Christ. LPC offers multiple missions trips and cross-cultural experiences each year. Experienced college faculty members lead each trip and serve as teachers, coaches and mentors for the students.
For example, Karen will lead a student trip focused on cross-cultural ministry to Puerto Rico, Grenada, and the Dominican Republic in 2012. Terry Samples, a professor at LPC, will lead a team to Chile, where students will experience professional development, applying their Bible college learning to teaching and training local leaders there.
LPC staff and faculty believe that the wide variety of experiences offered by the college “expands students’ development through formal and experiential learning in increasingly complex cultural contexts.”
“This is a strategic connection between LPC, FMI and Foursquare national leaders around the world that will help students serve via scholarship in other cultures,” Karen explains. “We work in the local church; we do training (local institutes and colleges); and we work internationally (FMI).”
LPC Director of College Relations Angie Richey is convinced that the addition of the study-abroad component to the global education program is an important development in fulfilling the LPC mission.
“Providing our students with global learning opportunities expands their awareness, develops diverse skills and builds long-term cross-cultural relationships,” Angie states.
The local church itself has become global, and LPC students have opportunities to minister domestically in urban church contexts. This year, students will utilize Foursquare’s Four-Stage Development Model and the MAP assessment tool developed by Foursquare’s church health and multiplication leaders as they gain an understanding of planting and leading urban churches in the U.S.
Karen says the demographics of many cities within the U.S. offer multicultural settings in which students can interact with a variety of cultures and nations within a small geographic radius. The experience they gain in such settings can be life changing, both for the students and for the churches they will lead in the future.
Robert Flores will lead a short-term missions trip to New Orleans and participate in three WOW JAMS in that city, and one in Baton Rouge, La. Students will be exposed to a highly effective evangelistic model and participate in relational ministry with an estimated 10,000 people who are expected to attend. They hope to see 1,000 people come to Christ as a result of these events and the participation of LPC students.
As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, Karen believes that an understanding of cultures other than one’s own is paramount in the development of global leaders.
“Our students must have an appreciation of the world beyond their borders,” Karen asserts, “and an ability to engage in meaningful discourse with diverse populations. They must put into practice what they learn in the classroom.”
She anticipates an increase of participation in global education from 18.3 percent of on-campus students to 40 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Robert Flores is committed to training students for the global realities they will face in ministry.
“It is critical that our students catch a world vision through global education,” he contends.
And once they do, they will be able to better fulfill the mission of The Foursquare Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles