You Will Learn About Yourself


by Amber Nelson-Smith

Last summer, I traveled with a GP to Nairobi, Kenya. Our director had built a strong relationship with a church and school which was ministering in one of the slum communities. When we arrived, I could see many needs in the community, and many things our team could have done, but instead of asking us to address any of the needs I saw, the local pastor instead directed us to simply play with the children.

He explained that the children had few opportunities for organized play, and that our visit was an opportunity for the church to rent a local schoolyard and gather the community children for a day of games. After that day in the slum, we didn’t have any traditional missions stories of the conversions we facilitated. Instead we spent the day merely 'being' with the children. Indeed, it was uncomfortable for many of us to step out of a position of power in evangelism.

When you assume you are bringing the gospel with you, you can miss out on the way God wants to transform you. But a broader vision, which we foster on InterVarsity Global Urban Treks, leads to transformation all around.

Hear from Ali, who was challenged to explore her ethnic identity on a Global Urban Trek.

Discipleship in Mission: Embracing Identity from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo


Have you experienced a time when it was more important to “be” than to “do” in ministry? When?


  • Urbana Blog: Change is Hard  Director of Urbana, Tom Lin, writes about the discomfort and growth of crossing cultures.
  • Urbana Blog: Dismantling My American Messianic Complex  Scott Bessenecker, Interim Director of Missions at InterVarsity, discusses the American belief that we can save the world.
  • IVP Book: Cross-Cultural Servanthood  Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility. Find an excerpt here.
  • IVP Book: The World Is Not Ours to Save  Activist Tyler Wigg-Stevenson tells stories that illustrate how we partner with God, the ultimate Savior of the world.

Consider applying for a Trek to learn more about about the ministry of presence.