The Mission Immersion Experience (MIE) is a required course for all M.Div students. Participating students will engage in practical missionary activities that are consistent with the vision of BTSR in global ministry. These activities may include small projects, home-stays, leadership roles, or other Church-related activities according to the needs and instructions of the host institutions and personnel
More than a Mission Trip
There is a temptation to see MIE as a mission trip. While there are certain aspects of MIE that are similar to Church mission trips, the goals of MIE are very different. It is to enlarge the vision of seminary students during the formative years of their Christian vocation and to enhance their cross-cultural Christian perspectives. The primary purpose of MIE is cross-cultural education and a shared learning.
The intellectual component of MIE is what sets MIE apart from Church mission trips. In a sense, the difference is between “being” and “doing”. It is an opportunity to test the development of one’s theology and Christian mission in a safe but challenging cross-cultural environment. Thus, MIE programs have the potential to transform the lives of those who take it seriously through questioning or by confirming what one thinks and believes in relation to a variety of cultural contexts.
Goals for the MIE
1. To depart from one’s own culture and become immersed as far as possible into another culture, and to experience a different lifestyle in order to gain a better appreciation for different people (and their cultures) as well as one’s own culture.
2. To make discoveries about one’s identity through encounters with persons of another culture and to note areas of strengths and weaknesses in overcoming estrangement inherent in cultural diversity.
3. To have opportunities to share one’s faith and to exhibit a servant attitude.
4. To identify with a people group other than one’s own.
5. To interact with professionals and church leaders in an effort to engage in dialogue, noting points of intersection and mutual learning.
6. To participate in various activities, noting culturally relevant practices.
7. To prompt a review and discussion of theological and ethical positions which are considered appropriate and/or inappropriate in this cross-cultural encounter.
8. To consider issues that are cultural, cross-cultural, countercultural and trans-cultural.
9. To experience the group process while traveling with other participants, engaging in dialogue/processing, managing group dynamics, and decision making.
Activities for this MIE would include tours, combined classes and interaction with Syrian Orthodox, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal Christians. We will also visit Hindu Temples as well as Muslim mosques. We will be under the leadership of Dr. Kunjumon Chacko, the founder of Precious Children Ministry supported by the Baptist World Alliance and the Virginia Baptist General Association. JAPAN
Japan and Hong Kong have strong political ties to the United States, and they are important centers for Christianity in Asia. Participants of this MIE will have the opportunity to meet important Christian leaders in Japan. Home stay will be incorporated into this MIE program and there are numerous theological issues we will explore together. This will be our first MIE to Japan. Our main base will be the Baptist Theological Seminary and University in Fukuoka, where a BTSR graduate teaches. We will visit Nagasaki—the historical sites of the atomic bomb and Christian martyrdom—as well as Tokyo.
ROMERO CENTER IN CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
If you need an MIE in the U.S. due to health or travel restrictions, this option is available. This opportunity is a well planned, ecumenical, and diverse urban ministry program of The Romero Center. The Romero Center is an Urban Retreat and Social Justice Education Center, a ministry of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral of Camden, NJ. The program includes participation in community programs, group interaction and learning, exposure to social justice & poverty issues, and personal reflection in the midst of one of the poorest areas in the U.S. Visit www.romero-center.org to find out more about their programs.
A trip to South Africa will be arranged to explore the richness of the environment, religion, land, history, struggles, victories, and ongoing development projects. Indigenous Church leaders will host students in their homes, and the experience will incorporate many activities, including church planting projects, exposure to issues in the region (AIDS, refugees, apartheid history, current politics, etc.), and intellectual/theological exposure and discussions. Dialogue with prominent figures in religion, education, and politics will also be a part of the learning experience for this MIE.
Experience Latin American culture and Church life by going to Argentina! This MIE will include exposure to Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions as well as learning about Latin American expressions of Christianity and its unique versions of liberation theology, social justice, collective memory and reconciliation, and economic/political implications in the wake of the recent events (1960-present) in Argentina.
Kenyan MIE is one of our strongest programs. Students will experience East African culture and religion through rural and urban events, development projects, lectures by African theologians, a variety of worship experiences, and several days in home-stay. This MIE is planned and administered by a BTSR graduate and CBF missionary, Sam Harrell, who, with his wife Melody and three sons, lives in Nairobi.
The MIE to China represents an amazing opportunity to experience Chinese Christianity. Students should be aware that there used to be very few Christians in this culture. Therefore, a cooperative attitude and openness to relationships with non-Christian communities will not only be encouraged, but also required for this MIE. Inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue will be an integral part of this experience. Lynn Yarbrough, a CBF missionary to China for many years, will be our coordinator. She lives in Nanjing.
Nigeria is the most populous African nation-state, and Ghana approximately 600 miles to the West of Nigeria was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain political independence from Great Britain. Both countries have secured an indigenous definition of the Christian faith. Participants of this program will experience Christianity in its African appeal and development. We will meet important African Christian leaders and listen to lectures by African Church leaders and theologians.