I first heard of the “gap year” concept about 10 years ago while in Great Britain. Many students there take the first year out of their university studies to broaden their global understanding. They might travel, or work for a philanthropic organization, but generally spend time contemplating their next steps. I saw huge benefits for students here in the States, especially when adding the element of discipleship. This idea has been less popular in the U.S., as most parents that have university bound students are eager to have their children begin the more traditional route and quickly acquire a degree. About the same time that I was exposed to the British example, Hume Lake Christian Camps began their own program as a gap year option for students, currently called the Joshua Wilderness Program. In the beginning it was difficult to find students for the program. Today, it thrives. Hume has a sizable waiting list of gap year students wanting to get in its challenging program.
SI began working with the Joshua program when they partnered in ministry with us in Dominican Republic in January of 2011. At a time in their lives when these students are trying to find out what God has called them to, our many different vocational ministry options provide a setting where God can call them, use them, and shape their hearts for service. It is, inevitably, life-changing.
Our staff in the DR just finished their second year of ministry with the Joshua students. The staff love the time with spent with the students as they fill our base to capacity (65) and bring an disciplined and focused heart to serve.
Last month I brought two new gap year program directors to witness the Joshua students in action. They loved what they saw and experienced and, Lord willing, in the future we might partner with them as well. As a gap year concept grows in the US, we pray this might be a time when more students are discipled and called to serve with a vision of what God wants to do in the world, whether at home or abroad.
Please pray with me as SI continues to grow and new doors are being opened.