Frequently Asked Questions
Southern Adventist University is recommending that all Student Missionaries return
home. Below is the email Student Missions director Christian Bunch sent to the Student
"Dear student missionaries, I was hoping never to have to write an email like this - I have some unfortunate news. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Southern will be suspending classes until the end of the semester and switching to online courses. You can look at southern.edu/coronavirus for more information. As a student missionary, Southern is recommending that you come home. I know this will have a huge effect on the organization you’re serving, but we must do what we believe is in your best interest and ask you to return. We do not want you to be stranded overseas as travel restrictions may continue to increase. We will arrange for your soon departure if you choose to follow this recommendation. If you choose to remain at your location until the end of your term, you will do so at your own risk. Regardless of when you decide to return, your insurance benefits will continue until you are back home. However, we have no way to guarantee your timely arrival back into the United States if you stay as our resources will likely become more and more limited if the coronavirus pandemic continues to progress. Please consult with your parents and email us your decision by tomorrow - March 13. If you or they have any questions I will be checking my email frequently throughout the day, and if you want to call me I'm here for you. I will support you in whatever decision you make. We are praying for you, your families, and those you serve. I am so sorry."
How to be a student missionary
- I want to be a student missionary. What do I do?
- Is there any training involved?
- Should I wait until I graduate before I become a student missionary?
- What is the difference between a student missionary and a task force worker?
- Who can be a student missionary with Southern's student missionary program?
- What if I don't feel qualified to be an SM?
Locations and Jobs
- Do I get to choose my location?
- How do I find a location to be a student missionary?
- Can I be a student missionary in the United States or Canada?
- What do I do when I find a place I want to serve?
- What kinds of opportunities are available?
- Will I need a passport and visa?
- How do I get my ticket?
- When should I check into my flight?
- Can I go home for Christmas?
- Can my parents visit me during my time of service?
- Will I be able to receive packages during my time of service?
- How much does it cost to be a student missionary?
- How do I qualify for a Student Missionary Scholarship?
- What if I have loans that need to be deferred?
Safety and Health
How to be a student missionary
I want to be a student missionary. What do I do?
Awesome! We're so glad you're choosing to serve! Your first step is fill out the application form online. Here's the link: https://myaccess.southern.edu/mvc/StudentMissions/Student. Simply follow the instructions there and complete the forms for Phase 1.
Is there any training involved?
Yes. All student missionaries and task force workers are required to attend the orientation class (NOND 099) before going to serve. Learn more about the orientation class here.
Should I wait until I graduate before I become a student missionary?
Probably not. Most graduates want to get on with their lives once they graduate and then they miss out on the opportunity. We also cannot defer student loans once they graduate with the BS/BA degree. Students with an AS degree can still have their loans deferred. After your sophomore year often seems to be the best time for most students to serve. Most nursing students prefer to go after graduating with their ASN and before returning to complete their BSN.
What is the difference between a student missionary and a task force worker?
Student missionaries (SM) serve at mission locations outside of the North American Division. Task force workers are also student missionaries, but they serve in positions within North America, serving in academies, camps, or in other capacities. Task force workers have an awesome responsibility and the opportunity to use their Christian characters to touch the lives of others.
Who can be a student missionary with Southern's student missionary program?
• You must be a baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
• We recommend you have at least two years of college and minimum GPA of 2.0.
• You must be a mature adult, able to handle responsibility and be adaptable, flexible, and open-minded.
• You must be financially responsible. Your student account must be current at the time of your departure.
• You must pass screening with the Student Missions committee.
What if I don't feel qualified to be a SM?
Don't worry. Many students go into a field of service they have no or little training in. God only needs your willingness to serve and He will do the rest.
Locations and Jobs
Do I get to choose my location?
Yes! You get to choose where you want to serve. There are hundreds of available student missionary positions all around the world.
How do I find a location to be a student missionary?
Listed below are several websites that post mission opportunities. Due to liability issues and concern for your well-being, your mission location must meet our specific guidelines. If a place you'd like to serve is not listed in one of the sites below, please contact us to verify that it will qualify.
General Conference volunteer site: www.hesaidgo.net
Adventist Frontier Missions: www.afmonline.org
Outpost Centers International: www.outpostcenters.org
International Children’s Care: www.forhiskids.org
Reach International: www.reach.org
Gospel Ministries International (David Gates): www.gospelministry.org
Can I be a student missionary in the United States or Canada?
Yes, there are many opportunities right here at home. Student missionaries serving in the United States and Canada are called “task force” (TF) workers. The paperwork and expenses may be different from international student missionaries. Task force opportunities include:
• Women’s or men’s dean in an academy setting
• Academy assistant chaplain
• Youth pastor
What do I do when I find a place I want to serve?
Great! Your next step is to fill out the application form online. Here's the link: https://myaccess.southern.edu/mvc/StudentMissions/Student. Simply follow the instructions there and complete the forms for Phase 1.
What kinds of opportunities are available?
There are so many different opportunities available all around the world!
• Serving in orphanages
• Church planting
• Women’s or men’s dean
• Construction worker
• Youth chaplain or youth pastor
• Medical mission work
• Lay evangelism
• Graphic Design
• Media and Communications
...and so many more! There are hundreds of opportunities and places that need student missionaries. Visit these organizations' websites for more listings.
Will I need a passport and visa?
All student missionaries are required to have a passport if they are leaving the United States. Not all locations a require a visa. It is important that you check your location to find out if you need a visa. Some locations require a visa before arriving in the country and some require you to buy a visa upon arrival.
How do I get my ticket?
Once you have raised the needed amount of money for your time abroad the student missions office will purchase your ticket to and from your location.
When should I check into my flight?
It is important to make sure that you check in to your flight online 24 hours before your departure time and arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight departs. This will significantly make the check-in process smoother and less stressful for you.
Can I go home for Christmas?
Some locations do allow time for student missionaries to visit home during their time of service. We do not recommend this because it can often be difficult for the student missionary to transition back into their position of service after visiting home.
Can my parents visit me during my time of service?
This depends on the location you are serving and your location director. It is important for you to get permission from your location director before your parents make plans to visit you. The director might have concerns about lodging, your work duties, etc.
Will I be able to receive packages during my time of service?
The Student Missions office sends all student missionaries packages regularly. If you know someone that wants to send something to you, they can send it with our packages if it will fit. Otherwise it is important to check UPS specifications before they send you a package. Some locations have strict specifications on what size of packages can be delivered to rural areas. It is also important to make sure to check what the specifications are for the delivery of packages. Some locations require the recipient to pay a fee to pick up the package.
How much does it cost to be a student missionary?
• A $100 processing fee for all SMs and TFs to be paid with your application
• You will also need to raise an additional $3,500 for the SM program (less for Task Force). Some locations cost more, depending on the requirements for that particular location. We have an approved letter for you to send to members of your church, family, and friends. Donations are tax deductible and non-refundable.
• We will keep track of your donations, and you will see them on your account so you can send thank-you notes to your donors.
• The money donated is for the “program” and not specifically for your expenses. If you exceed your goal, the extra money will help other student missionaries and fund other expenses of the Student Missions program.
• If you opt to delay your year of service, the money you raised will still be available to you later.
How do I qualify for a Student Missionary Scholarship?
Upon return to Southern to complete your undergraduate degree, you will receive a $1,500 SM/TF scholarship. You must meet the following requirements to qualify:
• Complete the NOND-099 Student Missions Orientation Class
• Attend the Exit and Re-Entry Retreats in their entirety
• Attend and participate in the SM Dedication Vespers Program
• Complete at least 6-12 months of service
• Complete required reports while serving
• Attend college prior to serving as SM/TF
*If you are a transfer student and served thru a sister university, please come and see us in the SM office.
What if I have loans that need to be deferred?
While you are gone for your year of mission service, if you are still pursuing your undergraduate degree, you must be enrolled in Christian Service I & II (NOND 227, 228 for 6 hours of elective credit per semester while you are out, and you will be required to pay 10 percent of the regular tuition). Your grade for this class will be determined by your grade in the orientation class (NOND 099) and your work while in the field. This enrollment will keep you enrolled at Southern and it will defer your loans. If you have already graduated, you will need to check with your loan companies to see if they are willing to defer your loans. It is important to note that except for school loans, your bill at Southern must be settled before you will be permitted to go as a Student Missionary or Task Force.
Health and Safety
What about my safety?
We wish we could guarantee that all of our student missionaries would be 100 percent safe. In this world, that is impossible. We do our best to monitor each situation, but there are no guarantees—either here at home or overseas. If you do feel like you are in danger in your place of service, please follow the directions General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists' volunteer missions website (www.hesaidgo.net/#/medical-emergency). It is the top priority to evacuate student missionaries as safely and as soon as possible in the case of a real emergency.
What if there is an emergency?
In case of an emergency, follow the directions General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists' volunteer missions website (www.hesaidgo.net/#/medical-emergency).
Next, call the Student Missions Office at (423) 236-2787.
If you hear of problems on the news where your child is located please remember that many of the countries that we have student missionaries are very big. Many issues are isolated to small areas of the country and can end quickly.
What about health insurance?
Accident and sickness insurance (not covering pre-existing conditions or routine preventative health care) is provided while you are gone through the General Conference Insurance Program. This is not for routine visits; it is mostly for emergencies.
What type of support is available to me after my time of service?
Most SMs experience some form of "reverse culture shock" when they return to the USA. We offer many resources to help you when you return from your time of service. We require all returned SMs to attend a Re-Entry Retreat. Upon returning, all student missionaries are given a copy of "Re-Entry" by Peter Jordan, which discussed ways to cope with returning home. All returned SMs automatically become members of the Student Missions Club. We are also always available at the Student Missions Office to offer support on a deeper level.
I have more questions.
Come visit us in the Student Missions office. We would love to talk with you and get you started on the paperwork!
Get ready to have one of the best, most exciting, adventuresome years of your life—understanding that it may also be one of the hardest years of your life, stretching you and growing you in ways you never imagined. The benefits to you and to the people you serve are immeasurable!
Ready? Let's get started!