Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Rerouted to Southeast Asia

PRIME student immersed into new culture
Shanlyn Johnson 2012

“By being immersed into a new and strange culture, I faced challenges and scary situations every day that only God could get me through.”

Their feet were black, cut up from walking the streets, but in this country's culture to touch someone with your feet is considered offensive.

Shanlyn Johnson used it as an opportunity.

“I washed their dirty, smelly, little feet,” said Johnson, a senior children’s ministry and missions double major at Huntington University who spent PRIME in Southeast Asia. “I explained that I was doing this to show how much Jesus loves them and how much I love them. Seeing their smiles made me so happy. It was the most humbling experience I’ve ever had. It taught me that we are called to be servants every day. We have to be willing to get dirty and uncomfortable to reach the lost, and I am still learning this.”

Johnson learned about the exciting opportunities through PRIME during her freshman year from an upperclassman. And during her years at HU, her anticipation grew to embark on her own PRIME adventure.

“It was the one activity I was most excited for in college, and I counted down the days until I could take my own journey,” she said.

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in family and children’s ministry and missions are required to fulfill a PRIME experience during their four years at HU. PRIME (Practical Research through Immersion and Ministry Effectiveness) is designed to offer students hands-on experience during their seven months away from campus while receiving guidance from a mentor currently working in the ministry field.

Originally, Johnson had planned to travel to Africa, but soon realized God had other plans in store for her.

Instead of traveling to Africa, God redirected her PRIME plans toward Southeast Asia. She received a list of various places to serve with job descriptions for each location, and one description stood out from all the rest — “One Beggar: Southeast Asia.”

“The job description was exactly what God laid on my heart,” she said. “When I found out it was Southeast Asia, I was nervous, excited and questioning why God was sending me there instead of Africa. After surrendering my plans to God, I knew everything would be just fine.”

While in Southeast Asia, Johnson assisted with the everyday activities at a day shelter for girls. She taught the girls stories from the Bible as well as the English language. Part of her program also allowed her to go into the slums and minister to the families living there.

“By being immersed into a new and strange culture, I faced challenges and scary situations every day that only God could get me through,” she said. “In America, it is so easy to feel in control of our lives and plans, but when everything familiar is left behind, we have no choice but to surrender and let God take over.”

During her seven months, Johnson led the girls through devotionals, helped them make jewelry to raise money and taught them English. Before she left, she wanted to make sure she could adequately train the two oldest girls at the shelter, both 16 years old, in the hopes they could take her place after she left.

“I wanted to leave knowing that the girls I worked with believe that Jesus is real and that he loves them,” she said. “Although it is very rare to see public conversions in a Muslim-dominated country, I hope that these girls know who Jesus is and that they can continually trust him with their lives. Even if I do not see the results of the work I’m doing, I know that I am laying a foundation for others to continue in the future.”