How to Gain Practical Missions Experience and Full College Credit Simultaneously (And Deduct 25% From Your Tuition)

Picture this scene.

You’re sitting in a classroom and open your laptop.

You glance out the window and see ocean waves off in the distance. You’re in Santo Domingo learning about cross-cultural missions, and part of your “coursework” includes caring for teen mothers and assisting missionaries to share the Gospel with the local population.

On top of that, you’re earning college credit — an unusual arrangement since you’re also learning about what it means to work in the field alongside active missionaries.

Many gap year programs offer hands-on field experience, but a new offering called Envision Trek Year, in partnership with Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., is unique. The 11-month program offers fully-accredited courses that can apply to a bachelor’s program. The costs are also lower — students receive a 25% discount on their Crown online tuition by attending the program.

“For some high schoolers, a gap year program like Trek Year allows them to work toward an academic degree while they are gaining experience,” says Jen Schepens, the Director of Envision, the short term missions and leadership development arm of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. “For some, they are exploring what they really want to do in the future, developing in their identity and calling. A cross-cultural context where they get to participate actively in what God is doing on the ground at the Envision site allows them the space to hear from God and develop in their calling.”

The program combines the existing Envision internship program with the academic rigor developed over the last 100+ years at Crown.

“Crown’s expanding desire and expertise in online education paired with Envision sites provided the perfect environment for Envision Trek Year program to become a reality,” says Schepens.

“The Envision-Crown partnership strengthens both the Trek Year experience and the Crown gap year initiative,” adds Dr. Joel Wiggins, the President of Crown. “It is an especially good option for students who want a cross-cultural or international experience. Envision’s global sites offer various ways to travel the world, understand cultures, make a difference, and explore God’s will.”

Trek Year is designed to help recent high school grads — or anyone still pondering what to do for a career — develop their callings and gain field experience, yet who do not want to give up any academic progress along the way, says Schepens. The program includes intensive Bible study, times of spiritual formation, and practical ministry and missions experience.

“Envision Trek Year provides an excellent opportunity for young people to jump into strategic kingdom-changing work and clarify God’s call by serving alongside experienced ministry workers,” says Dr. Fawn McCracken, the Associate Vice President and Dean of the Crown College School of Online Studies and Graduate School. “Students will gain intercultural ministry experience and mentoring as well as academic credits that apply toward a college degree.”

Trek Year will take place at 21 different Envision sites, including one in Santo Domingo described above. Other sites include overseas locations like El Salvador, Taiwan, Thailand, and Paris, France. An urban ministry experience is available in places like New York and Minneapolis working with Alliance churches and missionaries in those areas. There are 13 international sites and 8 domestic sites (see full list below).

Costs for the program are broken into two parts. (Each ministry site below lists the total cost per month.) Academic costs are paid to Crown and financial aid may apply. Missions related expenses including room, board and travel are paid to Envision. With help from Envision, students can raise support for the costs related to their missions experience.

“Students would be able to take the theories of academia and test and try them in real world contexts. Lightbulb moments, where theory and practice collide, can drive someone to a deeper passion for learning,” says Brandon Nutter, Site Coordinator for Envision: Santo Domingo.

“In addition to providing an opportunity to explore the world, this is also an amazing academic route for students who know they are interested in missions,” says Dr. Darin Mather, the Assistant Professor for Global Studies at Crown College. “They gain hands-on experience while receiving training from Envision and taking relevant coursework from Crown. Because the program is less expensive than other traditional Christian college programs, it helps students keep their debt load down. Finally, it gives them the support-raising experience and helps them develop the support team they need to become full-time missionaries.”

To find out more about Envision Trek Year and how it might work for you, contact Jeff Johnson at Crown College at 952-446-4100, or visit the Envision website.

Trek Year ministry sites

Paris: teaching English, reaching international college students, church ministry, arts and music community outreaches, relational evangelism
Spain: serving North African immigrants, working with women in sex-trafficking, teaching health and exercise classes
El Salvador: leading an after-school kids program, planting a church for deportees, hosting short term teams
Peru: alleviating poverty for families living in slums, construction projects, short term teams
Colombia: working with children, drug and alcohol recovery group, young teen mothers, urban church planting
Dominican Republic : serving the local church through kids ministry, construction, camps
Mexico: mobilizing local young adults for missions, leadership development, church outreach
Ecuador: caring for teen mothers, reaching youth, developing pastors and leaders
Chicago: ministering to Spanish-speaking families, leading kids ministry, serving an inner-city church
Cleveland: partnering with urban churches, ministering to refugees through community development projects
Miami: working with Spanish-speaking immigrants, partnering with local Alliance churches
Los Angeles: developing urban leaders through an inner-city church, housing project outreach, racial reconciliation
Atlanta: teaching English, working with refugees in the most diverse immigrant population in the US
New York: minister to west African immigrants, partner with local churches
Twin Cities: urban ministry, refugee ministry, after school program, basketball club ministry
Providence: children’s ministry, teaching English, community outreach
Bangkok: loving university students, teaching English, relational evangelism, discipleship, red light district
Indonesia: teaching English, sports outreach, Muslim ministry, poverty alleviation
Taiwan: learning about business as missions through a coffee shop ministry, church planting among Buddhist young adults, teaching English
Philippines: living in and working with a slum community, developing leaders and working toward poverty alleviation
Burkina Faso: drilling wells, bush evangelism, youth ministry, women’s ministry, teaching English

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