Millions of young adults are now going on short-term mission trips through their churches, schools, campus ministries, and in record numbers on their own. Most of these young adults are going with little or no training and no field or post-field debriefing. Many return with a sense of calling to missions but no one to guide them. Most of these young adults desire to change the world, and want to do it as fast as possible; some are already making huge contributions to God's kingdom! They want mentors for guidance, prefer to work in teams, and want to jump in with both feet, prepared or not. We, as a couple and WorldVenture as an organization, believe young adults are the future of the Church -- in missions, and more broadly.
Until recently, WorldVenture didn't have a program to tap into and develop the raw, passionate talent of these young adults. An internal task force brought this issue to light and in 2008 a Concept Paper was circulated to WorldVenture leadership outlining a cross-cultural service program that would allow young adults to be equipped to serve for up to two years. This was the beginning of Journey Corps -- 1-2 year, cross-cultural service ministry designed for young adults to use their gifts and passion as they live in community, learn missions and labor together.
Journey Corps participants (Journeyers) will live in community with other believers focused on becoming passionate followers of Jesus. Each Journeyer will learn and develop spiritual disciplines based on their unique design. The goal is to facilitate their spiritual development in solitude, community, and ministry. Journeyers will also learn together in formal and informal settings. They will be mentored by veteran international leaders, missionary mentors, educators, national mentors, and leaders covering a wide variety of topics. These topics would include: Language, Culture, Theology, Missiology, Leadership, and Ministry. Finally, Journeyers will labor together to meet the whole-life needs of the local population through services such as: social work, economic development, health care, education, environmental activities, community projects, cultural exchange, evangelism, and discipleship training. As an evangelical ministry, Journey Corps will partner closely with an array of existing ministry groups, churches, and NGOs in the selected regions of ministry. The ministry of Journey Corps is intended to be holistic; encompassing people's physical, mental, and spiritual needs.
The Journeyers' initial emersion (90-days) will take place in the Journey Corps Training Center where they will learn language, culture, and ministry skills prior to starting their ministry track. The Training Center will also serve as a place for team building, recreational activities, debriefing, and continuing education. Upon reaching pre-established competencies in numerous areas, Journeyers will move into the local community or nearby cities and villages for a few weeks at a time, before coming back to the Training Center for debriefing, mentoring, and renewal. Towards the end of their first year, most Journeyers will eventually serve in cities and villages throughout West Africa for extended periods of time. Key to the program is a number of full-time missionaries, national mentors, and educators, who are all based on the ground in the region of ministry to coordinate ministry activities and supervise the Journeyers. The hope is that over time, a significant amount of Journey Corps leadership will arise from the program's participants and alumni.
Journey Corps's vision is to be an approach that can be implemented on multiple continents, providing interested young people with the option of several worldwide Training Center locations. It's our desire that every Journeyer will leave Journey Corps as a Lover of Jesus, a Lifelong Learner, and a Servant Leader, as they continue their spiritual journey. The hope is that the program will capture the hearts of each one for a lifetime of kingdom service, whether at home in the U.S. or abroad.
The Journey Corps Training Center is located just outside of Bouaké, Cote d'Ivoire, the second largest city in Cote d'Ivoire. For more than 30 years the campus was a state of the art missionary kid boarding school known as International Christian Academy (ICA). Political and tribal unrest in the early part of the 21st Century made it impossible to continue boarding such young students at ICA, and it sat partially vacant for several years while being leased and maintained by the French military. Upon careful assessment by WorldVenture missionaries who live there, WorldVenture leadership at headquarters, Ivorian church leadership, and others it was determined that reopening the campus for Journey Corps was a wise move.
The 32-acre campus is located a roughly five miles from town, with taxis and buses between the two prevalent. Students and staff are housed in the eight dormitories, 10 apartments and 13 houses available on site. The facility includes an industrial kitchen, dining hall, library, shop, 14 classrooms and 10 offices. The center also features a gymnasium, football (soccer) pitches, basketball courts, and racquetball and tennis courts. Electricity and indoor plumbing are in use and work is being done to make internet access available on campus (though it is presently an option at internet cafes in town).