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5 Ways to Strategically Use Your Winter Break

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2023
By
Meghan

As winter break approaches, many students find themselves eager to relax and unwind from the challenges of the academic semester. While it's essential to recharge, consider leveraging this time strategically to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. Here are five ways to use your winter break with purpose:

#1: Send Christmas cards to missionaries

I once asked the wife of a missionary family who had served in Oman what Christmas looked like there. She replied “Well, it didn’t really look like much of anything. Christmas isn’t a thing in that part of the world.”

This seems very obvious to me now, but at the time my wintertime worldview was shattered. In regions of the world where Christianity is not the dominant cultural religion, you won’t find twinkling Christmas lights and decadently decorated Christmas trees in every storefront and window. 

This time of year can bring about a heightened time of cultural dissonance when cross-cultural workers are far away from loved ones, annual traditions, and festive foods. This can trigger a deep sense of sadness and loneliness. But receiving a card at Christmastime is a simple and meaningful gift to remind them that they are not forgotten.

If you’re not sure who to send a Christmas card to just ask someone at your church about who your church is currently supporting.

#2 Serve Locally

During the interview process for my 2-year placement overseas, I was asked about how I fed myself spiritually. How did I spend time with God? Did I have a habit of reading my Bible? What was my prayer life like? These questions were intended to give the team a picture of my spiritual habits here in the US. They asked these questions for an important reason. How could I be expected to do something (like maintain my own spiritual health and habits) in a foreign context where things would be different and challenging if I wasn’t doing those things in my home context where I was most comfortable and familiar?

The same is true with service. Thinking about serving others is not the same thing as actually serving others. If you have a heart to serve others cross-culturally that starts at home, in your own city, where you are already most comfortable and familiar.

How to get involved in your area? Here are a few ideas:

  • Check donation centers for needs, especially as cooler weather comes in (hats, gloves, socks for those of all ages who find themselves in need)
  • Or donate your time at shelters with a need for volunteers to serve warm meals

#3: Invite an International Student to join you for a holiday tradition. 

There are over 1 million international students studying in the US each year, many of them from parts of the world that are unreached with the Gospel.  And most international students will go through their whole college experience without ever getting invited into an American home.  You have the opportunity to change that. 

Connect with ministries in your area that are already reaching out to internationals and see who you could get to know.  Share your Christmas traditions with them, learn what this time of the year is like in their home country, and introduce them to the One we celebrate at Christmas.

#4 Pray for the Unreached

Growing up, advent calendars were just an excuse to get to eat chocolate every day. And nowadays it’s not just chocolate - you can find some pretty quirky advent calendars for just about anything, from instant noodles to ‘Friends’-themed stationery. But I never really gave much thought about the true meaning of advent until more recent years.

“Advent means ‘arrival’ and signifies the start of an event or the arrival of a person” (TheBibleProject) As Christians, we remember during the Advent season the waiting of the Lord’s people for the arrival of the Messiah. We get to hear and celebrate the good news of great joy that the Prince of Heaven came to dwell among us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Oswald J. Smith once said, "We talk of the Second Coming; half of the world has never heard of the first." The truth is there are over 3 billion people in the world still waiting to hear this good news and for the arrival of a person who will share it with them. 

How can you pray for the least reached during this Advent season?

  • Download the Joshua Project app
  • Or check out the Operation World app
  • Invite a friend or small group to pray with you
  • Subscribe to the newsletters of a missionary from your church to learn more about how you can specifically pray for them.

#5: Plan a short-term mission trip

GoCorps specializes in connecting recent graduates with 2-year global placements. But before they became Goers, many of our Goers served on a short-term mission trip. On short-term trips, we’re often the ones who end up the most changed. It could be because we’ve seen the needs in a new part of the world or because God has shown us a bigger picture of Himself through the beauty of another culture and we’ve gotten a front row seat to how He’s already working globally. Whether it’s 1 week or 6 a short-term trip takes us out of our comfort zone and gives us a chance to learn more about the world, and our place in God’s global work.

I recognize that this way of using your break takes some advanced planning! Maybe you have done that step and will be able to go and serve in a cross-cultural setting for a week or two over the break. 

If it’s not possible for this break, what about the next one? What could it look like to give your summer? We’ve hand-selected summer internship opportunities from our partners to give you a chance to test the missions waters for yourself. Click here to learn more about summer internships.

#6 Start the discernment process for your next steps after college

I know I told you I was going to give you 5 strategic ways to use your break, but there’s one thing you could do during the break that could change the trajectory of your life. And that is to begin praying and discerning how God could use you and your skills, passions, and degree after graduation. Did you know only 7% of the world has a college degree? What if you could leverage yours for God’s kingdom and gain valuable work experience in the process?

You have the opportunity to use this break in studying to start a conversation with one of our coaches about what tithing your career could look like. Click here to have one of our coaches reach out to you. Or take this short quiz to see if you’d be a good fit for a GoCorps placement.

If you want to just explore more about what this experience has been like for Goers who have already served you can read some of our Tithe Your Career stories here. Or if you want to do some reading over your winter break you can check out our Goers’ list for Essential Reading.

Meghan

Meghan graduated from Carroll University with a degree in Communication. While there she was involved in InterVarsity, leading small groups and evangelistic Bible studies and saw God grow her heart for the nations. After graduating, she spent 2 years in the UK working with youth and college students, extending her time another 5 years to continue in ministry with young adults from different cultures, nations and backgrounds. She loved getting to come alongside people as they grew in their faith and considered their place in God's work around the world. Now based in Texas, she’s glad to be in a position when she can keep encouraging young adults in their pursuit of God and missions! Some of Meghan’s favorite things include exploring outdoors, eating treats her husband bakes, seeking out cozy spaces and playing with her kids.

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