Why should I do mission on my gap year?

A gap year mission placement gives you amazing opportunities to share the good news of Jesus. At the same time, you gain valuable cross-cultural experiences and a wider perspective on life. Working as part of a team, you’ll build relationships with your other team members and with local people as you engage in practical, useful work. Team bible studies and seminars will help you to grow in your faith. Gap year mission is not just about seeing the world. It’s also about sharing your life with the people you meet. You’ll get the chance to travel and experience a different culture, but you’ll also serve God, get a taste of mission work – and have fun!

What makes Crosslinks the best choice?

We’ve been helping young people to find gap year placements since 2002. We offer first-class opportunities for service, evangelism and discipleship overseas.

Who can apply?

If you are a committed Christian and a school leaver up for a challenge, this is for you! You must be a UK resident and 18 or over by the time you travel overseas.

Where can I go – and what will I do?

Our typical gap year team is made up of up to 10 school leavers (male and female) and two team leaders, usually slightly older. Experienced mission partners host the team for the duration of the placement. 

In 2019-2020, we hope to send teams to The Gambia (January to May 2020) and South Africa (either August to December 2019 or January to June 2019). 

In The Gambia, our gap year team will work in schools alongside the national Christian Union. Activities may involve:

  • going to schools to teach lessons and run bible studies and Christian Union meetings
  • serving in and with a local church
  • helping run youth and children’s activities at conferences
  • participating in university student outreach
  • taking a break and exploring The Gambia.

For a taster, see the 2018 Gambia team’s prayer letters.

In South Africa, our gap year team will serve at various church placements organised by mission partners James and Lucy Buchanan. Activities may involve:

  • helping with kids and youth work, including Sunday school and holiday clubs
  • helping with a literacy group
  • university and local community outreach
  • attending Johannesburg Bible College two days a week
  • taking a break and going on safari or exploring South Africa

To get an idea, see prayer letters from two short term volunteers in 2018 who served in Johannesburg, Kayley and Alice.

How will you help me prepare?

When we accept you into a gap year team, we invite you to two initial team weekends. These are usually held in October and November. You’ll get chance to meet your team and think about your time overseas together. You’ll cover practicalities and get your questions answered.

We also ask you to attend an orientation course. This four-day non-optional residential course, just before Christmas, is a vital part of your preparation. You’ll get input on communication, cultural issues, child protection and safety. You’ll explore ‘What is Mission?’ and other topics that will equip you for your time abroad. We also take care of practical arrangements for your trip. We’ll set up your accommodation and itinerary, and will co-ordinate your flights.

What if my parents are worried about my safety?

We receive regular updates from the FCO (Foreign Office) about security in the places our mission partners are working. Our partners are well aware of security situations and keep us abreast of their concerns. If there is any concern about safety, we do not send a team out. We brief all our team leaders fully, ensuring they know how to follow a clear set of emergency procedures. We provide comprehensive insurance cover for our short-term placement volunteers. We can access expert advice on visas and travel health.

What support do you offer when I’m overseas?

For our short-term placement teams, we have a dedicated co-ordinator who keeps in regular contact with team leaders. During your time overseas, your team leaders will look after you on a day-to-day basis. We also ask gap year teams to write regular joint news and prayer letters. Before you leave the UK, you tell us who you would like to receive your updates. On your behalf, we then send these letters to churches, families and friends who are supporting you in prayer. We also put them on our website (see here for an example).

What happens when I get back?

After the trip, you take part in a debriefing day with our short-term placement co-ordinator. This meeting usually takes place within a month of return. It is a time for you and your team to discuss and reflect on your time together. In some cases, we can give ongoing support in conjunction with your church.

How much will it cost?

Depending on location, it costs Crosslinks around £3,000 per person to support you while you carry out your charitable work in a gap year team. We look to all volunteers to raise at least this amount of funds for the society before you go. This comprehensive payment covers the costs of your accommodation, meals and local travel, insurance, visas, team weekends and orientation training, and other pre-travel administration. We’ll help you with budgeting and fundraising and arrange your flights using our charity discount air fares. Flights are provided at a separate cost by and are authorised under Diversity Travel (ATOL 9566) and protected under the ATOL scheme.  Aside from the budgeted items, team members will just need to cover their personal preparation costs, such as necessary vaccines. You might choose to raise sponsorship from your friends, family or church, or use personal savings or earnings to fund your trip. If you are accepted into a team, we ask you to pay the full amount by your orientation (usually one month before you go). You can choose to pay by instalment, or all at once.

How can I apply?

To join one of the above gap year teams, you will need to apply by 30 April 2019. It is wise to apply as early as you can, as places in our teams are limited, and often in high demand. You can find the team members' application form here, and an application for team leaders here (for over 21s).

Complete this form, sign our Declaration of Belief, and return both to Daisy Bartholomew at dbartholomew@crosslinks.org.

Before you do this, please discuss your application with your church leader, as we will contact this person about you.

What happens next?

If we think you could fit into one of our teams, we take up the references you supply. We then invite you to our London office for a short, friendly and informal interview to get to know you better. We let you know within a few of weeks whether we can accept you into our gap-year mission scheme. When we have completed all interviews and confirmed our team leaders, we assign you to a country team. We cannot guarantee mission in the country of your choice, but we take your preference into consideration and do our best to match preferences with teams.

Anything else I need to know?

Offers depend on passing a DBS (disclosure and barring service) check and health clearance, both of which we arrange for you. We then make you a formal offer to join a Crosslinks gap year team placement, and ask you to sign an agreement.

All 2019 placements will be confirmed by June 2018. If for any reason we cannot take forward a team placement, we will advise you of other opportunities for gap-year mission: an individual placement or one with other gap year team applicants. 

What some previous gap year team members have said...

Phil Chevassut, Gambia 2018

'My experience of a short-term mission placement in one that I will surely not forget. Serving God and living with a group of Christian brothers and sisters in a different culture has been one of the most memorable, instrumental and precious months of my life and walk with Christ. I will cherish every experience I had during the placement. I am so glad I chose to take a gap year and venture on a short-term mission programme with Crosslinks to strengthen my faith in Christ, to form some invaluable friendships and to prepare to stand firm on God’s word at university. I would highly recommend the Crosslinks’ short-term mission programme!'

Kayley Shum, South Africa 2018

'Go for it! If you’re looking to take a gap year and you want to grow as a Christian you need to be thrown in the deep end. From being taken out of my comfort zone in South Africa I was able to develop my own deeper relationship with Christ and have the amazing opportunity to teach about him to so many kids. I have made friends for life and learnt so much about other cultures that has truly humbled me. Hope Church is such a special place - ministries are always growing and there is always so much to praise and pray for!'

James Williams, Thailand 2017

'A great opportunity to strengthen your faith, meet new people, explore a new culture and make a difference.' 

Lucy Newman, Kenya  2017

'I absolutely loved it, and am SO glad I went! I would definitely recommend it. For me, not only was it the chance to meet wonderful people and make amazing friends – both from Kenya and the UK, and help one another serve God in a new setting – but it was also the chance to be refreshed by and immersed in gospel truths, whilst surrounded by Christians. Coming from a Christian family, it was great to have time to really think about my decision to follow Jesus for myself, before the wordly noise of uni started shouting at me. I miss it already!'