The Ukraine crisis has affected individuals worldwide. California Baptist University students are not exempt from these concerns, and CBU’s International Service Project (ISP) teams are experiencing the effects of the constant danger posed by the Russian invasion in a more personal way than a majority of the student body.
The Mobilization Office, a division within the Spiritual Life Office, annually sends teams of students overseas to serve communities worldwide. Each team member goes through extensive training throughout the spring semester. Throughout the training period, ISP team members learn skills and information regarding the country they will travel to in order to best serve and communicate with the community.
In light of the Ukraine crisis, the Mobilization Office has expressed its commitment to the safety of CBU students and team leaders. Due to the ever-changing state of the situation, the office has yet to make any final decisions for affected teams.
John King, director of Mobilization, recently announced that most ISP teams’ plane tickets have been purchased and are set to depart as planned. However, teams whose places of travel are in close proximity to Russia and Ukraine face the possibility of having to change locations. A location change is likely to cause disappointment among the ISP teams and their leaders, but some ISP members may have a more positive outlook.
Jeannette Russell, CBU staff member and ISP team leader, is optimistic about the possibility of changing locations.
“I have been on the ISP team previously where our destination was changed,” Russell said. “At first I was concerned, but then I realized God had this plan all along. In the end, our trip was amazing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. God is in control and we just need to remember that.”
With only three weeks left of training sessions, ISP members who have yet to find their confirmed location are eager and restless for an answer. ISP members have anticipated a change in location for quite some time, but the Mobilization office only recently shared that some teams will likely not be able to travel to their original locations.
Chloe Montgomery, Christian behavioral sciences and anthropology double major and ISP student leader, shared her initial disappointment upon learning she will not travel to the country her team has been training to serve in.
“It’s disappointing when you train to go to a specific country and find out you won’t be going there after all, but I think we all expected it,” Montgomery said. “I know that the Lord is in every decision that Spiritual Life has to make regarding ISP and I’m excited for my team and me to see what the Lord is doing in a different location.”
This experience has undoubtedly served as a teaching moment for students, team leaders and Spiritual Life staff.
“I have learned to pay attention and be ready for anything, but also to trust in the Lord because you often will not feel ready for whatever is before you,” Montgomery said. “But the Lord is always at work in those moments.”
The first wave of ISP teams is set to depart the first week of May.