China Summer Project
Q: Why should I participate in the China Summer Project?
A: You will be working with some of the top students in the top universities in the country. Because of this, you have an opportunity to have an eternal influence by sharing the truth of Christ with young nationals who can then have a positive, eternal influence as leaders of the next generation in their own countries.
Q: How am I going to come up with the money for the trip?
A: Most of your support will come from individuals whom you ask to be part of your support team. We call them ministry partners. We will help you gather a team and help you send out support-raising letters. This is the source of most of the financial help. Templates for these letters are provided and are sent out by you to your friends and family. Churches and fellowship groups may also have funds budgeted for members going on short-term projects such as ours.
It is important for you to take responsibility for the cost of your trip. Many times people work to help pay for the trip; others utilize creative fund-raising in order to pay the bills.
We have seen God provide in miraculous ways over the years. The more you seek God’s answers to the money challenge, the more you will grow in faith and responsibility. We encourage you to do everything that you can do to raise or earn the funds. We will trust that God will do the rest. He continues to prove Himself faithful as He provides for those He calls according to His purpose.
Q: What will a typical day look like?
A: An average day will involve meeting new friends and sharing God’s love. Sharing your faith is the mainstay of your project and most activities revolve around it. During the course of the project you will also have team meetings and team prayer.
A typical day might look like this:
- 8:30am-11:30am: Participating in socio-cultural discussions with students
- 12pm-1pm: Lunch with students
- 1pm-4pm: Seminars/Company visits/Outings/Free time with students
- 4pm-6pm: Rest
- 6:30pm: Debrief/dinner with team or dinner with students
- 8pm: Planning/Prep for next day
Of course, many project participants say that there is no typical day. Your days will vary according to your location, if you are part of an existing movement or helping to develop one. You will also have time during the project to take in local culture, sightseeing, shopping, etc.
Q: What does the ministry look like?
A: You will spend a lot of your time meeting new people, sharing your faith and depending on the length of your project, doing basic follow-up with students. In most cases, ministry is very relational. You are making friends and talking about Jesus. You are building relationships and bringing people to a point of decision to follow Christ. After students trust Christ, you can get them connected with local long-term workers to help them develop their relationship with God.
Q: Where will I stay and how will I get around on a project?
A: In most cases, project participants are housed in college dorms or guesthouses, or modest, local hotels. Typically, public transportation is used to travel to schools and outings in the project country. At times, vehicles may be rented for some group outings. Security in housing and safety in travel are our primary considerations.
Q: How do I communicate between there and home?
A: Email has changed the world and in most locations, you can access email services. There are also phone cards that enable you to communicate at substantially lower costs than normal national rates. Although you will have occasional communication with friends and family at home, your free time is limited. Your main focus is the project and the task that God has called you to.
Q: How do I apply for this project?
A: Request an application from, complete and mail it to our office. The application process involves the following steps:
- Personal Information & Short Answer Questions
- Three Completed Reference Forms from -
- Fellowship Counselor/Campus Staff Worker
- Phone Interview with Staff
Q: If I end up not making the trip, can I get a refund?
A: Note that the application fee is not refundable.
Muslim World Project
Q: What is the purpose of this project? What do we hope to accomplish?
A: This is an opportunity to learn more about Islam and meet Muslims face to face. It’s also a cultural exchange and a chance to spend time with people of the Muslim faith. We hope to see students actively applying the truths of the Christian faith to the Muslim world context and committing to using their life to serve God’s people and his purposes in the world—wherever God might call them (back home or abroad).
During the Kyrgyzstan part of the project, our goal is to both reach out to high school and junior high aged kids and encourage Kyrgyz Christians to continue serving the Lord faithfully.
Q: What will we be doing?
A: Here is a breakdown based on the three parts of the project:
- In the U.S.: we’ll be mostly learning about team dynamics and preparing for our trip through various means such as visiting local ministries.
- In France: we’ll be contributing to the outreach of a local student-run ministry. In the mornings we will have team time and Bible study, then in the afternoons we will go to the university campus to pass out fliers and invite students to our events, in the evenings we will sponsor events that are meant to start good conversations about significant topics (movie discussion, etc).
- In Kyrgyzstan: we will be teaching conversational English to high school students. We will be building friendships with these students and contributing to the long term work of the local run ministry. In addition we will be leading group activities, using our sports skills, going to the bazaar, worshipping alongside Kyrgyz believers, and even visiting some tourist spots.
In addition, these are some general things we’ll be doing:
- Visiting several very different missions contexts (home culture, secular culture, Muslim-majority culture)
- Personally encountering Muslim people of different cultures and faith commitment levels (people of Middle Eastern, South Asian, North African, and Central Asian backgrounds; ranging from faithful to nominal to secular)
- Meeting Muslim-background Christians and long-term workers
- Team Bible study, book discussions, videos, personal study
- Personal outreach
Q: Is it safe? (Usually when someone asks this they mean, “Is it dangerous?”.)
A: We want to make it clear that our first priority is to be sure that everyone goes and comes back safely. Over the many years that we have been leading projects we have grown in experience and knowledge of how to lead projects such as this one. For most of the students, going on a summer project is safer than driving on the freeway back home. In fact, the most dangerous part of our project is in London—where students have to watch out for traffic of cars driving on the left side of the road!
The first part of our project is in Paris, France, an internationally known tourist destination. The water and food are safe and the surroundings are very safe.
Kyrgyzstan is a developing nation. Although Kyrgyzstan is a relatively safe and stable country, we are sure to keep up with any national issues that may have the potential to threaten stability in the area. We constantly monitor all travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department and are in frequent communication with local contacts in the towns where we will be working. We have been working with the same center for several years now and have come to expect safe and healthy food, housing, transportation and ministry locations. If, in the unlikely event that during the preparation process any of our ministry locations become unsafe, it will be immediately cancelled and the project will be assigned to another country.
Q: What does the cost cover?
The total cost of the project covers airfare, training and debriefing, in-country transportation, food and lodging during the program, administrative costs, preparation materials, English materials, and day trips in country. This cost does not cover passport application fees or personal spending money. We recommend bringing $200, but this is merely a suggestion, and not a required amount.
Q: How will I be able to raise enough money to cover the program costs?
A: Most of your support will come from individuals whom you ask to be part of your support team. We call them ministry partners. We will help you gather a team and send out support-raising letters. This is the source of most of the financial help. Templates for these letters are provided and are sent out by you to your friends and family. Churches and fellowship groups may also have funds budgeted for members going on short-term projects such as ours.
Q: What are the requirements for joining this project?
A: There are several requirements:
- Be committed to share God’s love with others
- Must be at least college-aged or a young adult
- Fluent in English (not required to be a native speaker)
- Receive good references from a friend and a pastor (or staff worker)
- Be a team player
- Be willing to leave your comfort zone
Q: Where will the Kyrgyzstan portion of the project take place?
A: Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia: at the extreme western border of China, south of Russia, north of India, east of Turkey. Yes, halfway around the world from the U.S., but closer than you think. We will be working in a small city about an hour and a half from the capital city of Bishkek. Most of our activities will be located at a local community center that offers conversational English classes as well as computer literacy and a health program to residents of the community.
Q: What is Kyrgyzstan like?
A: Life in Kyrgyzstan is fairly simple, but it is not a third-world country. The roads are paved (but with potholes), the food is clean, the water should be boiled, the mountains are spectacular (really!), but the thing that you will most remember about Kyrgyzstan is the people-warm, hospitable, friendly, and eager to meet you.
Kyrgyzstan reminds some of a “more ‘Asian’ Eastern Europe”.
Q: What language do they speak in Kyrgyzstan?
A: In the north (where we will be) Russian is the lingua franca. In the south Kyrgyz is more prevalent. There are minority groups who speak other languages including Uzbek, Kazakh, and Dungan (a language related to Mandarin Chinese). However, all of the kids in our program are learning English, so you can speak English to them (unless you know some Russian!).
Q: What is the center like where we will be working?
A: The center is located in the central part of the town, near the bazaar and not far from our apartments. It has clean classrooms and a large, cement central courtyard. In addition there are several ping pong tables and many willing kids ready to help you improve your skills.
Q: Do I need to have experience teaching English?
A: No. You just need experience speaking English. Students are very eager to try out their English with you, as they don’t get much opportunity to speak with native English speakers.
Q: What is the age range of the kids we are working with?
A: High school and junior high, mostly (i.e. 13-18 years old).
Q: What else will we do with our kids besides teach them English?
A: Well, in part, that’s up to you. In the past we have played soccer, ping pong (LOTS of ping pong), taught crafts, put on science experiments, had small building competitions (e.g. “build the tallest tower out of one piece of paper and 50cm of tape”)… The young women on our team held a couple of friendly “cooking exchanges” (the KG girls loved that).
We also go on small outings with our classes-to Burana tower, perhaps to a waterfall, maybe once out to lunch (our treat), to the local museum… In some circumstances it will be ok to even invite a select student or two from your class to come to fellowship services on a Sunday.
Q: What is the daily schedule like?
A: Here is a schedule of a typical day:
- 7:30am: Walk from our apartments to the center
- 8:00am-8:30am: Morning devotions
- 8:30am-9:00am: Get ready for class
- 9am-12pm: Classes
- 12pm-1pm: Lunch with students
- 1:30pm-3:30pm: Afternoon activities with students (sports, crafts, science, art, etc.)
- 3:30pm-4:30pm: Prep for next day’s classes
- 4:30pm-5:30pm: Team meeting
- 5:30pm-6:30pm: Dinner at center
- Walk back to apartments
- Evenings off (spend time with translators, team, reading, sleeping…)
Q: Will there be an orientation and debriefing?
A: There will be pre-orientation packets sent out and even some facebook activity to get to know the team, then an orientation in the U.S. before flying out. Orientation this year will be in the San Francisco Bay Area. We will then fly to France and have a day to get acquainted with the city and begin our work there. We will then travel to Kyrgyzstan and again have time to become acquainted with the town and adjust to the time zone and to prepare our classes before we begin.
At the end of the project we will change location for a couple of days to go to a scenic spot where we can rest and reflect upon all that God has been doing during the project and prepare ourselves to integrate the lessons that we learned during the project into our life back home. Debriefing this year is scheduled to take place in a suburb of London, England on the way back to home.
Q: How do I communicate with people while I’m on the trip?
A: The primary means of communication will be through email. However, there are cheap telephone access points in each of the places where we will be. Last summer we found it quite cheap and convenient to phone home a couple of times a week and email rather frequently. Once we arrive in Kyrgyzstan you will be provided with the phone number of the actual apartment where you will be staying.
Q: What are the housing accommodations like?
A: In the US you will be hosted in the home of a local Christian family. In France we will be staying at a church together as a team. This will likely be the least “luxurious” of our accommodations. But hey, you’re still in Paris! When in Kyrgyzstan we will be staying in apartments. They are modest, but clean and safe. Each apartment has a shower with hot water, kitchen with necessary utensils, etc.
Q: Will I have to prepare my own food while there?
A: No. In France we will eat lunch at the dining commons and have dinner together as a team. In Kyrgyzstan lunches will be provided at the teaching center and dinners will be prepared for us by a local woman who will prepare local dishes.
You may also be invited over to someone’s home to share a meal with a family. Breakfast is prepared in your apartment (3-4 people per apartment) and can be as simple or as fancy as you like. Usually it will be something simple, like fruit and bread and juice, purchased the night before with spending money the project director will give you.
Q: Will I have to eat/drink something that I won’t like?
A: France has some of the best food in the world. Even then there are sometimes things that are new to your palate. We are hoping that all of us will try new things. Going on this project is not like going on “Fear Factor”. You won’t have to eat bugs. But, if you were to ask, “Is it possible that someone may serve you something you won’t like?” It depends on how picky you are. Kyrgyz food can be quite tasty: noodles, rice pilaf, fresh bread, lamb, beef, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lots and lots of watermelon are all things that you will find there.
Q: If I end up not making the trip, can I get a refund?
A: We hope to avoid people dropping out of the trip, but we also realize that unforeseen events can arise. There are several points where backing out becomes more disadvantageous. After we purchase your air tickets, for example. We will work with you to refund what we can. Note that the application fee and the deposit are not refundable.
China Vision Trip
Q: What will I be doing?
A: If you are a teacher, you will lead classes for Chinese teachers of English on teaching methodology and/or English conversation. The Chinese teachers have a range of English speaking ability – from basic English to near-fluency in English.
If you are not a teacher, you will lead classes for high school students in the mornings and a high school English camp in the afternoons. Volunteers normally team up and co-teach the morning high school English classes. The high school students are usually very enthusiastic, friendly, and curious about Western life. The afternoon high school English camp is a place where you can share your own passion – a hobby, an interest, etc. Past volunteers have led a basketball camp, a cooking class, etc.
Curricula are provided for all classes except for the afternoon high school English camps. The English camp sessions will be tailored to reflect your own interests, but we will provide instructions, a template, and feedback on your preparations for your camp session. Experienced teachers can adapt the curricula to suit the needs of your particular students.
Q: What qualifications / skills are required?
A: We ask that volunteers be fluent English speakers and have a heart and attitude for serving others. You do not need to be a teacher or even Mandarin speaking (even though it’s helpful). A team leader, who is bilingual in English and Mandarin, will be accompanying the team and can help translate when necessary. There usually are some bilingual volunteers on the trip as well who can act as a resource.
Q: Where am I going?
A: We always enter China through a coastal mega-city and our Vision Trips take place in some of the poorest provinces of China. You will get to see and experience both sides of China – the urban and the rural, the rich and the poor.
Q: What type of connection do you have with the rural town and school?
A: We partner with a well-known Chinese organization, founded by a Christian, which does charitable outreach to rural schools throughout China. We will be teaching and serving at a school that falls under their auspices. The local government is aware of their work in the town where we will be serving and we will enter the same town through our partnership with this organization.
Q: How much does trip cost?
A: The trip costs US$2400, which includes international airfare from LA or SF, domestic airfare in CHINA, and lodging and food while in China. If needed, you may raise funds for your trip through your faith community. You can contact us for fundraising tips and a fundraising letter template.
Q: Can I attach a personal trip before or after the Vision Trip?
A: Yes, you may. We have many associates in China; if you are headed to one of their cities, they may be able to give you some travel tips and share with you about their own outreach efforts.
Q: Can I go as a family? Are children allowed on the Vision Trip?
A: Families have participated on this trip before. It might be more difficult to bring a young child on the trip, unless you will also be bringing someone with you who can care for them while you are serving. You can contact us for information regarding your family’s particular situation. Older children have participated in an all-children’s English class, helping to lead songs and activities for Chinese children of local teachers and school administrators.
Q: What kind of local lodging, food, transportation, etc. is there?
A: The lodging varies depending on location, since we serve in different rural towns. You will be in one rural town for your entire rural stay and serving at one school.
You will most likely stay in a basic hotel with the basic amenities. The food in the region is usually carbohydrate heavy (noodles). The food that we have eaten on past trips has typically been quite good. If you have a very sensitive palate, you can bring some granola or energy bars to supplement your meals.
The rural town that we have planned our trip for July 2010 is actually fairly modern, but we will plan a visit to a more rural school as well.
Q: Can I talk about my faith openly?
A: Generally speaking, you can share your faith in a respectful manner if they initiate the conversation. Past volunteers have been able to share with their class in the context of the English lessons (e.g. lessons about Christmas and Easter) or in one-on-one informal conversations. This is less of an issue when other adults initiate the conversation, but you would need to share in a more careful manner with the high school students, since they are considered minors. We will cover this in more detail during the program orientation.
Q: What kind of training will GLS provide to prepare me?
A: We will have a state-side orientation in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are not in the area, you may join us by phone or Skype. During orientation, we will give you some useful tips for classroom teaching, a brief history of China and Chinese culture, answer any questions, and provide you with all the information you need to have a successful journey. Before the phone/Skype session, you will have received a substantial orientation booklet that will answer many of your questions.
Q: How big is the team?
A: The size of the team will vary, but usually does not exceed twenty. A variety of people participate on the trip, from all over the US, from college and graduate students to young professionals to advanced career professionals, and adults of all ages.
Q: What if I cannot raise the full trip cost at time of departure?
A: For the past many years, God has always provided. Team members with overage can contribute towards a pool to help team members who cannot raise enough funds for the trip.
Q: If I raise more than enough funds for the trip, what happens to the overage?
If you have overage, congratulations! You may choose to share the wealth and contribute towards a pool to help team members who cannot raise enough; or keep the funds in your account at GLS and use it towards a future trip; or donate it towards specified ministries at GLS. Please let your donors know what you would like to do beforehand, since they contributed the funds and should have a say in how they would like for their donation to be used.
Q: If I end up not making the trip, can I get a refund?
A: Note that the application fee is not refundable.
If your reason for withdrawing from the trip is health-related and the airfare has already been paid, you may be able to get a partial refund if you can provide a doctor’s verification, depending on the airline and type of ticket purchased. You may be able to use the ticket within a certain timeframe by paying an additional fee to the airline, if you cancel before the date of departure. It depends on the ticket type, the policy of the airline, and the timing of your cancellation.
We can return checks not yet deposited and can keep deposited checks for future use. You would be responsible for informing your donors of your situation. If it is your own check, because you are paying for the trip yourself, we have refunded unused portions in the past. If you end up going on another trip within the next year or within a reasonable time period, then we will waive the application fee the second time around, because we have already processed your application. However, if more time has lapsed or new changes have occurred, you may have to re-apply with a new application fee.
Q: I might be open to long term work overseas; how can this trip help me in the discovery process?
A: You may have traveled to China before and you may have even gone on a vision trip before. The GLS Vision Trip will allow you the opportunity to do more soul searching, to better discern what God’s calling is for you, to deepen your understanding of the Chinese people and their culture, to serve the Chinese people, to receive prayer support from a team and from an organization that will help you process your thoughts and experiences as they pertain to long-term work and living, and to help guide you through your next steps. GLS has more than 20 years of experience sending long-term associates to China and currently has dozens of associates in multiple Chinese cities. We have a passion for connecting those who want to serve to opportunities to do so in China.
Career As Missions
Q: What is Tentmaking?
A: Tentmaking is self-supporting missions. Tentmakers are ambassadors for Christ on the mission field. They have real jobs like the apostle Paul, who made tents for a living during his 18 months of pioneering work in Corinth.
But tentmaking is not just about financial independence. It provides both work and ministry platforms for witnessing. By doing a good job, tentmakers contribute to society and demonstrate how Christian values are lived out in the real world. By reaching out to their colleagues in their daily lives, they are as much a part of missions as traditional missionaries. In fact, their professions provide entry to places that do not welcome traditional missionaries. Read more
Q. What are the pros and cons of tentmaking versus traditional missions?
A: Traditional missions:
- more time to devote to ministry, especially in church planting;
- more Bible and theological training required;
- financial and prayer support from sending church and donors;
- most agencies have more experience supporting traditional missionaries than tentmakers.
- ability to remain on the field constrained by support level – need to go home to fundraise if support drops;
- locals cannot readily understand why you don’t need to earn a living and may see your ministry as a paid job;
- closed/creative access countries don’t issue missionary visas; so some traditional missionaries get their visas as language students or employees of businesses that are mere shells of a business…thus creating integrity issues;
- not being in the local work culture, they are less able to understand or address work issues, and model how to live the Christian life where the rubber meets the road.
- save missions dollars, especially in the case of families serving overseas;
- have legitimacy on the field as an expatriate professional;
- natural contact with locals through work;
- long term platform secure as long as they have marketable skills;
- can identify with the work struggles of locals, witness to them with credibility, model a relevant faith, and disciple others through their jobs;
- seasoned professionals in management can transform the work culture of companies and have wide and visible impact
- no accountability unless they join a network;
- home churches and friends may not see them as missionaries and give the same, consistent prayer support;
- challenging balance between demands of work, family and ministry, no different than laymen back in the home country; but in a different culture, the stress is greater;
- temptation to become career focused and lose one’s original missional purpose (loss of vision or focus is also possible for traditional missionaries)
Q: Why go with a sending network like GLS?
A: Often those who go to China without needing financial support may not see the point of joining a sending network. This may be true especially for those who were born and raised in Greater China, know the language and think they know the culture.
But Mainland Chinese culture is not the same as Hong Kong or Taiwan. This applies to both work culture as well as the church culture. A sending network can provide the orientation necessary for effective acculturation.
Moreover, going to China as a tentmaker is different from going simply for career development or cultural interest. We cannot underestimate the seriousness of spiritual warfare for bearers of the Good News. No soldier should go into a battlefield alone. Read more
Q: Do you offer a program for tentmakers serving in China long term?
A: Yes and no. GLS offers more than a program; we have a network of associates working and serving in China since the mid ’90s. We do not take a cookie cutter approach and assign tentmakers to places and ministries. We counsel and connect tentmakers to jobs and ministry opportunities according to their interest and backgrounds, but they enjoy considerable freedom in choosing what they do.
Q: How does GLS support tentmakers in China?
A: As tentmakers, you are called to do your job well as a professional, and minister to people as a missionary, while adjusting to life in a new environment. We at GLS understand the demands of your bi-vocational calling. Our mission is to help you settle in, stay on course, and keep growing.
As a network of seasoned professionals with China experience, we offer you on-the-ground support and accountability. We also provide on-going professional networking, pastoral care, and mentoring through retreats, personal visits, prayer, Skype and email.
Our ministry network also allows you to survey the ministry landscape and plug in faster. Lastly, health problems are common attacks for workers on the field. Through well-trained doctors in our network and connections with specialists in Hong Kong and the U.S., we can provide timely consultation and referrals for you to get quality care.
Q: What if I/we already have church support?
A: That’s great! We work with professionals who come with church support too. We complement home church support by providing domain knowledge, in-field accountability, career counseling and spiritual care.
Q: What are expectations for associates of the network?
A: Our associates covenant to:
- make their personal relationship and growth in Christ top priority;
- commit themselves to community and accountability in the network through monthly prayer fellowship, regular small groups, pastoral visits and retreats;
- maintain moral integrity in their private/professional/social life and relationships;
- and apply themselves to ministry (including language study) and the work of mobilizing others to join the work of the harvest.
Q: How do I join your network?
A: Submit an application request! Then, we can get to know one another and see if there is a good fit between what you are looking for and what we can provide. Our application process is simple and personal, similar to applying for our summer programs.
Q: Do tentmakers really not need to raise support?
A: Tentmakers with valued skills and experience can command high enough salaries that they are totally financially self-supporting. But many younger professionals and new grads need to raise at least partial support to cover worldwide health insurance in case major sickness or accidents require treatment and family support back home. While necessary, international coverage is more costly and may not be provided by local companies. Raising some support can help pay for it. Read more
Financial support aside, prayer support raising is crucial. Everyone needs it.
Q: If I am open to serving as a tentmaker but unsure about my China calling, what should I do?
A: If you’re unsure of your calling, or haven’t gone to China before, explore by first going on a short term project. We have summer projects and study abroad programs designed for college students (5-6 weeks in the summer) and vision trips for working adults (2 weeks, summer and fall).
If you have gone to China before, then we suggest setting aside at least two years to explore. Why two years? Our experience has shown that it takes at least one year to adjust to living in China. So a second year would be needed to have a more accurate assessment of working and serving in China. Read more
Q: What if I want to go to China but have yet to choose a career or am open to a career change?
A: Consider training as a teacher of English (TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language or TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Teachers are employable around the world. Some credential programs require 1-2 years of training. There is also intensive training that can be completed in as little as 5 weeks. Read more
Q: Do I/we need to pay off loans before I/we go?
A: The answer depends on your particular situation, the amount owed, your timeframe and future plans, etc. In general, if you are planning to go to China long term, then it would be ideal to work and pay off loans before going if possible. If you plan to go to graduate school before going overseas, consider programs that will keep your school debt to a minimum upon graduation.
If you are exploring for a couple of years first, then it may make sense to come up with a budget to pay off loans while you are working in the next few years. Some jobs in China, while paying less than their counterparts in the U.S., will allow you to save more because of the lower standard of living and U.S. foreign tax exemption, so you end up paying off school loans faster when you are serving overseas. Read more