Daniel Lembeck is becoming more fluent in Spanish during each day of his Study Abroad program. He recently discovered that his new favorite word is siesta.
The junior from Pittsville, MD, is enrolled at the University of Salamanca in Spain this semester, but still making progress toward his Biblical Studies degree at Maranatha. He is part of a new program that will allow students to become immersed in other cultures with the hope that they may one day return and make a lasting impact there for Christ.
“Tentmaking is, in my mind, the future of missions, and Maranatha grads need to be on the forefront of this new wave of missionary enterprise,” Humanities Department Chair Jerry Kolwinska said. “Some of the best opportunities for evangelism are going to be available to young people who understand other cultures, because they have spent time immersed in another cultures, and also know the language.”
Another student, Emily Timblin, will teach in Peru during the second semester. Lauren Nelsen (below), who will graduate in May, participated in a language immersion program in Spain last November.
“It was a fantastic experience, much different than any missions trip I had ever been on,” Nelsen said. “I thought my Spanish was OK, but I was pushed 24 hours a day there.”
The initial international placements for Maranatha students were established through the Humanities Department, primarily Spanish professor Dr. Manuel Morales. The next step, Kolwinska said, is to find placements for Business majors with an interest in international business. A funding mechanism that would allow faculty members to make exploratory trips to other countries has been proposed.
Lembeck is studying History of the Spanish Civil War, Philosophy, and English Literature at the University of Salamanca. He is also taking some Bible classes offered through Iglesia Evangelica Bautista de Tormes, a Baptist church in the area, and assisting missionary Kent Albright with youth work.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Lembeck said. “It costs about the same as a semester (at Maranatha). The only difference is, I get to spend five months in a place I’ve never been before doing something I love—studying Spanish.”
Kolwinska noted that many universities in other countries already have programs in place to accommodate foreign students who wish to study there. Humanities majors are a natural choice because of the number of elective hours available in their broad-based degree programs. A typical Study Abroad student will spend one semester overseas, taking 12 to 14 credit hours of college coursework.
The classroom is only part of the Study Abroad experience, however. Maranatha students will become active parts of many facets of ministry, working with local churches, missionaries, national pastors, and other established Christian works.
“I really enjoyed working with children’s classes and the youth group at the church in Spain,” said Nelsen, a Biblical Counseling major and Spanish minor. “Even singing with the youth group, the choir, and special music, was a learning experience that really helped me expand my vocabulary.
“People think of Europe as modernized, and it is. But they are desperate for missionaries over there. I had no idea how hard Europe was to the gospel until I went. It is as if people there have no religion at all. They don’t seem to believe in anything.”
Kolwinska said he expects Maranatha students will soon see more opportunities for study and ministry abroad.
“We are just beginning to see the potential for this program,” Kolwinska said. “The future is now.”