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Missions Fair Slated for February
January 18, 2006

Next month the Calvin College chapter of the InterVarsity Mission Fellowship will host representatives of over 20 mission organizations at its annual Missions Fair.

The idea behind the fair, which will take place from 9 am to 4 pm on February 7-8 in the Hekman Library lobby, is to showcase the wide array of mission opportunities available to students and to show the many forms that mission work takes today.

One special feature of the Missions Fair will be the "missionary hot seat," to be held on Tuesday, February 7 at 9 pm in the Chapel Undercroft.

The hot seat will be a panel of five missionaries from various organizations who will answer students' questions about missionary life.

“People have asked about what their (the missionaries) favorite part of mission work was or embarrassing situations they've been in," says Sara Sytsma, the InterVarsity chair. "(They've asked about) how to raise support and what their advice would be to students who want to go overseas. And any other questions that students can think of."

The Mission fair will include such groups as Wycliffe, Africa Inland Mission (AIM), SEND International and the English Language Institute-China (ELIC), plus many more.

Some of the organizations participating in the Missions Fair will exhibit in Calvin's Engineering Building because of a particular focus they have in that area, but Sytsma says she hopes students from a variety of academic disciplines will take the time to visit the Fair.

"Any occupation can do mission work," says Sytsma, a senior environmental science major who plans to go into mission work. "Mission organizations need accountants, media relations people, business people and administrative people to run the organization."

Each organization represented at the fair, no matter what its focus, represents a whole host of mission opportunities.

“With Wycliffe, you can teach literacy, translate the Bible or be an illustrator for Wycliffe books. There are opportunities for engineers all over the world to give clean drinking water to people. And then of course, there’s medical mission work and working with sustainable agriculture,” Sytsma explains. “One of the good groups we had last year for the first time is called Med Send. They help medical students pay their school bills so that they can go into medical missions.”

Sytsma says the fair, which InterVarsity revived in 2004, can be a life-changing experience for a student.

"I know several students," she says, "who joined mission organizations after going to the mission fair."

Sytsma (formerly Ladenburger) plans a career on the missions field with her husband Anthony Sytsma who hopes to work through Christian Reformed World Missions.

"I’ve just been trying to think about how I could use my love for science in mission work," she says. "I don’t know exactly what I'll do, but I think I could do work with agriculture in developing countries or work with people to care for the environment."

Sytsma has felt a pull toward missions since she was a high school sophomore and her parents took her on a mission trip to Mexico.

"I didn’t want to go," she says, "but when we went there, it really changed my heart, and I realized it was joy to serve other people. The Bible calls us as Christians to be a light to all people and to tell others about the grace we've been given in Jesus Christ."

InterVarsity Mission Fellowship, which promotes world missions through speakers, fellowship and prayer, meets every other Tuesday night in room 214 in the basement of the Calvin Chapel.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson