Seven student interns slowing down for one month, studying the Person of Jesus, and seeking to follow him all while immersed as short-term missionaries in Guatemala. Would faith come alive? The time had come in my six-year journey into the heart of Jesus to put my theories to the test. Would slowing down and watching Jesus have a real impact on how the next generation of followers lives and loves? Would a love for the Person of Jesus emerge?
We started our study of Jesus by watching how frequently he moves through three steps of love: seeing, having compassion, and helping. Our host city, Antigua, was full of vendors who constantly approach you to sell their goods. I quickly grew cold to this, annoyed by the aggressive marketing strategy. But Caroline, one of our interns, had not. Every time, without fail, she stopped, looked the person in the eye, and asked in Spanish: Como se llama? Translation: What is your name? She slowed down, made eye contact, engaged and incarnated—entering their world for a moment.
I was struck by the beauty of seeing this student love so well; she had learned from Jesus where love begins.
I was struck by the beauty of seeing this student love so well; she had learned from Jesus where love begins. I’d seen a maze of vendors selling goods, not individual image bearers working for their livelihood. My heart was slow to learn from the Master this simple step of love, but Caroline got it and showed this 50-year-old how to love. She had seen Jesus love, and his love through her was now pouring out into the streets of Guatemala.
Students were impacted by different facets of the Person of Jesus. After seeing Jesus love the rich young ruler with honesty (Mark 10:17-27), one contemplative student quietly stated: “This is going to transform my friendships.” The idea of good honesty as a gift to others felt radical.
We reflected on Jesus’ words in John 5:19, “I do nothing on my own, I only do what I see my Father doing.” One student commented that watching Jesus live in dependence made him so much more human: “It has impacted my prayer life; I pray about everything now just like Jesus prayerfully depended on his Father. It has also impacted my study of the Scriptures. Jesus’ devotion to studying the Word even though he was fully God has made my devotional time that much more personal.”
The idea of Jesus leaving space was uncomfortable for most students. We studied how Jesus prayerfully waited approximately 9 to 12 hours to go to the rescue of his disciples as they struggled against the wind in Mark 14:22-33. What was Jesus doing? Why was he watching and waiting from a distance? It became an ongoing commentary for our time together. One morning we were prevented from doing ministry because Guatemalans were protesting government corruption by blocking roads. Literally blocked in our efforts to serve, one student reflected: “Jesus is giving us space for our faith and dependence to grow, guys.” The concept was being intertwined into the mundane inconveniences of life.
Everyone tries to make Christianity this complicated theology, but studying Jesus as a Person has made me realize his simplicity.
One student summarized the impact of studying the Person of Jesus: “Everyone tries to make Christianity this complicated theology, but studying Jesus as a Person has made me realize his simplicity. He is a Person I can follow and following has now become fun.”
What might happen if a new generation of students began to love like Jesus? What if they started seeing people, having compassion, and helping? What if they grew in dependence like Jesus? What if all the momentary afflictions of this world began to be seen as faith growing opportunities? What if it became fun to be a follower of Jesus? What might happen in Christ’s church? What might happen in our world?
When the next generation sees the Person of Jesus, the fullness of humanity and the fullness of God, following him becomes a wonderful adventure and trusting him moves from duty to their greatest joy.
Robert Row, Student Ministries Coordinator, recently returned from leading seeJesus’s first summer internship in Antigua, Guatemala. Learn more about our passion for helping the next generation see Jesus at our free webinar, "Becoming Human Again: Why Students (and All of Us) Need the Person of Jesus" on Thursday, August 17 at 8 PM ET. You can watch the summer intern video for a deeper glimpse into this year's experience.