International Ministry Changes Lives for Local College Students
Local students have found an unusual way to spend a semester abroad by serving international campus ministries.
Auburn University students and Auburn High School alumnae Rachel Rubin, Kaitlyn Camp and Lauren Van Tuyl made the decision to travel thousands of miles to interact with college students all over the world to share their faith.
People and culture have a strong impact on daily life. Rubin, Camp and Van Tuyl took the impact Auburn had on them and shared it internationally. They, in turn, were deeply impacted by the people they came in contact with while abroad.
Rubin, a senior majoring in communications, traveled to Santiago, Chile in the fall of 2013 to be a part of the campus ministry, El Oasis.
“I was there to nurture the relationships that were already there in the campus ministry and then to be a bridge from the students at the university to the campus ministry,” Rubin said.
She plans to leave in January to help begin a new ministry in Uruguay.
Camp, a senior in interdisciplinary studies, traveled to Scotland and was a leader at the campus ministry Roots during the fall semester in 2014. She was involved in planning and attending events hosted by the ministry, meeting with local students and attending staff meetings.
Van Tuyl is a junior in human development and family studies who is currently serving at En Vivo in Salamanca, Spain. While attending classes, she is developing relationships with the students at the university, as well as staff members who are from both Spain and the U.S.
Going abroad has affected the course of life for all three women. Van Tuyl said now she hopes to return to Salamanca and join the team in the future. Rubin’s life continues to be impacted as she prepares to leave for Uruguay for three to five years. Camp learned through her trip that she doesn’t desire to be at a campus ministry in the future. Although she loves interacting and building relationships with students, she doesn’t see herself being in charge and running the ministry.
But being thousands of miles away from home and not having any familiar faces around can be difficult and intimidating.
“I gained a lot of wisdom when it came to making decisions,” Camp said.
She was the only college-aged member of the staff while she was in Scotland which pushed her to be more outgoing and open. Getting to know the students and staff quickly became a priority because she didn’t know anyone at the beginning of the semester, according to Camp.
If it hadn’t been for her time in Santiago, Rubin’s entire role at an Auburn campus ministry, Auburn Christian Fellowship, would be shifted and she would not be involved as the international student intern.
“It gave me a love for other cultures, and now I love meeting international students,” she said.
The trip allowed her to become more adaptable and able to see how other nationalities view the world. As she prepares to leave for Uruguay, Rubin is looking forward to a slower paced, more relaxed city atmosphere.
Language is an obvious barrier when traveling to another country that doesn’t speak English. Although Van Tuyl took multiple years of Spanish in high school, the shift in language has been difficult. Having other staff members who can translate when needed has been extremely helpful.
“It has been a big encouragement to learn Spanish, and it makes so much more of a difference now,” Van Tuyl said.
Hometowns have a large impact on a person and who they grow up to be. Rubin, Van Tuyl and Camp all call Auburn home. In recent years, the term “Auburn family” has become a popular term to describe the university and athletic fan base, but the town really has that family feel too, Rubin said. Auburn has also shaped Van Tuyl’s life by pushing her to go towards international ministry.
“There’s a large international community in Auburn, so I was always interested in other cultures,” Van Tuyl explained.
And for Camp, there’s no place like the Plains.
“It was nice to go to Scotland and see different things,” she said. “But Auburn is always going to be home.”