Students share international experiences

MLC students share international experiences

This year, 13 graduates from Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., elected international service, bringing the number to 60 MLC students and graduates who work in foreign settings.

According to Thomas Hunter, MLC director of International Services, this connection between MLC students and mission outreach is natural. “[It’s] rooted in the heart of the Great Commission,” he says. “This command moves the mission-minded servant to go beyond familiar borders and into places they have often never experienced firsthand before. It’s a natural connection here at MLC—the college of ministry—as students explore new areas of ministry.”

As a way to both inform and encourage others in worldwide outreach, the MLC International Services Office sponsors an annual Thalassa Contest, in which MLC students and graduates share a picture and a personal reflection on their ministry overseas. This year’s winner is Sara Schmeling, a 2011 graduate who served in Novosibirsk, Russia, teaching English and leading Bible studies and other church programs. The MLC International Services Office funded the $1,000 prize, awarding $500 to Sara and $500 to the mission she chose, Daylight in Russia.

Here is Schmeling’s winning submission:


God’s light in a world of darkness

Dark. Cold. Dreary. Those are words commonly associated with Russia. Having adventured through frigid Siberian winter and traveled through several days of Arctic night, I can attest to this.

Walking in sub-zero temperatures, on a January night, in St. Petersburg, was a moment that brought those words to my mind. Ahead was my destination, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a giant Orthodox church engineered to inspire awe. However, the information plaques surrounding it focused more on its historical significance than the Savior of its name. Floodlights illuminated the church with a blinding intensity when compared to the night.

That wasn’t what caught my attention however. The moon was holding its own, shining down and spreading its glow, even as the church and the rest of the city lights tried to drown it out.

God’s love works just the same here. The darkness of the world, the inaccuracies of the Orthodoxy, and shadows of logic over faith try to obscure God’s grace. But there is always the glow, the glimmer—no matter how faint—of the gospel being faithfully proclaimed.

John 8 declares, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” From the missionaries welcoming us with open arms and the church members that are always ready with a smile and helping hands, to the joyful children who are learning to appreciate an oasis of love, God’s light and love is evident everywhere. For those we came to serve, we pray that they see God’s light in us.

Light. Warm. Loving. When I hear the word Russia, those will be the words that I think of, and I pray that HIS Light will keep shining in this country and all others.

Read the articles of past winners at


Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

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