Due to the continuing pandemic, Friends International Summer Teams will be significantly different in 2020.
Annually, we have teams in seven or eight cities, which would normally bring together volunteers from across the country and abroad. However, this year we will only be able to involve volunteers who live in the immediate area of the outreach.
The leaders of each Summer Outreach Team are actively exploring what will be possible this summer, while also wanting to comply with government guidelines and ensuring the wellbeing of every student.
In some places the summer teams programme has been running for some decades. It is a significant time for meeting, building friendships and sharing Jesus with short term language school students and others who might have no other contact with Christians while studying here.
It is also a key moment for inspiring and training a new generation of Christians in international student ministry. Therefore, we plan to run training programmes for Christian students and others who would normally be part of the outreaches. In some settings these have already started. For example, the ‘Friendship and Faith’ series being run in Ireland, replacing the Dublin International Outreach. 25 Irish students attended this training, last month. We will also be running a national programme in July and August that will be available for all.
It appears that almost all pre-sessional English courses in language schools and universities are continuing to be advertised and will happen online. Some are using recorded lessons, while others are attempting to run activities “live” – certainly for students in East Asia’s time zones.
Around these are opportunities for additional activities to practise English and some universities seem genuinely open to this. Please do be praying for these new ventures that God would be at work revealing himself to international students joining activities across the time zones, and also in the lives of young Christians exploring international student ministry.
Despite the difficulties and struggles at this time, there are significant new opportunities, some of which we hope to make the most of this summer.