Support Waits at Home for Returned Student Missionaries
by Julie Z. Lee
In the midst of the jumbled conversations of antsy freshmen and the imposing banners of various clubs, a tiny voice called out from behind a small, white poster which read the same message the voice was pleading: RETURNED SMs, COME HERE! Crammed into a corner and overwhelmed by the larger clubs, the newly formed Student Missionaries Club was almost drowned out by the chaos of registration day; but the relentless shouting and flailing arms managed to sign sixty names.
The organization formed this year in hopes that individuals returning from the mission field would have a support group to rely on.
"Most people don't know this, but many returned SMs suffer from a sort of reverse culture-shock," says Michiko Miyajima, a former student missionary and director of World Missions. "You have had an experience that allows you to see life from a whole new perspective, and you want to share this with someone who will understand -- a fellow returned missionary. Hopefully, this club will help us to find each other."
The club plans on holding several worship services and Bible study groups. They have already had a pre-vespers program that welcomed close to thirty attenders.
"It was really encouraging to hear stories from the other returned student missionaries," says Kate Bennett, who taught at the Czech Republic last year. "We were all able to relate to each other because we went through the same things."
Various social activities are also anticipated, but the lack of funds is a temporary hinderance. While other associations on campus have had the time and resources to situate themselves financially, the young club is just beginning to climb the ladder rungs.
"We will have to learn how to 'fundraise'," says Miyajima. "We're still in the making, so we have no budget, but the people's enthusiasm will help the club to grow in every aspect."
Above all, the group's main aim is to establish a strong relationship among all of the missionaries -- returned and current.
"This club is a breakthrough for returned S.M.s and for those who are out right now," says Joy Cho, recently returned from the Marshall Islands. "We just want to get together with people who share the same goal of service for God."
In the past six years, PUC has sent over 250 students abroad. This year alone, there are nearly 50 in the mission fields, all striving to serve. Judging from these numbers, it looks like its going to be one big meeting.
Note: This is an archived article and does not necessarily represent current issues at Pacific Union College.