The God of the Bible is a missionary God, desiring that all know and worship Him. That’s why Lancaster Bible College developed a major in intercultural studies – a program that exists to empower those who sense God’s specific calling to take His message of love cross-culturally to all peoples of the world.
Alex Smithers*, a graduate of the program, is preparing to serve with a church planting team in South Asia in the coming months. “I really feel prepared to survive and thrive in hard places because of my studies in LBC’s intercultural studies program,” she said. “Even now, I’m applying what I learned while working in a restaurant that’s owned and staffed by Asian immigrants. I am equipped not only to adapt to other cultures, but also to welcome people from other cultures than my own.”
According to Smithers, the college’s intercultural studies program has equipped her for life as a missionary. “It’s crazy to me to think that within a short time of graduating, I essentially have my dream job in my field – a sending agency, a team placement and a departure date less than a year away,” she said excitedly. “I never thought it would happen that fast, but I’m ready! I’ve been prepared by the knowledge and wisdom of those who have gone before me, and I am led by the mighty God who brought me to study at LBC and is now calling on to proclaim His name among those who have never heard it.”
Smithers also noted that the unique format of the program, while both challenging and rewarding, helped her to invest in her relationship with God first. “There are many parts of the program that I loved, from having friends from a variety of cultures to being ‘forced’ to travel and practice my skills outside the classroom,” she explained. “My favorite aspect, however, is the emphasis throughout the program on maintaining a strong, healthy relationship with God. I grew a lot through learning how to interact with people from other cultures and how to live in other cultures, but I was transformed by the work God did inside me during my studies.” Smithers went on to explain that this made all the difference in her education, and, more importantly, with her relationship with God. “While everything else makes up the building blocks of the foundation laid through the program,” she said, “This focus on continually pressing into God a strong cornerstone and also what gives me the most confidence that I can thrive through culture shock and spiritual attack.”
The value of a biblical education is not lost on Smithers. “This is such a valuable education to have in today’s world,” she stated. “The world has been shrinking for years in our now global society, and as tensions rise because of that, it’s important to be able to look at the people on the other side and really see them as people.” She explained that misunderstanding other cultures leads to the creation of deep divides. “People from other cultures can seem so different that they get lost in the strangeness and cultural or religious clash,” said Smithers, “But being able to learn and understand how they see the world and behave the way they do can make them human again. And we need to be able to see all groups as people in order to love as Jesus loved and fulfill the Great Commission.”
*Some names and information has been changed to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned.