Guide to service

Spending a year of your life as a student missionary (SM) is a major commitment. The application process takes time—sometimes three months from the time your application is submitted. It also involves significant preparation—interviewing returned SMs, a training retreat, a class about cross-cultural missions, and more. But time and growth are what meaningful journeys are made of, and the preparation process helps ensure that you’ll have the best mission service experience possible.

And you don’t take this journey alone. Our Student Missions team is here every step of the way to answer your questions, help you with paperwork, share knowledge from their own mission experiences, and most importantly, pray and envision with you on where God may be calling you to serve.

Our prayer is that, as you embark on this journey, you will allow God to root and ground you in His love so that you may be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19), and the overflow of that experience will become your individual service story!

An overview of the steps to your service journey

1) Learn

2) Apply

3) Vision

Dates to Remember


  • Ideal time to start the application process (especially for competitive calls).


  • Make sure your passport is valid for two or more years.
  • Talk with a variety of returned SMs to help you explore calls.
  • Get fundraising letter written and approved.
  • Register for Cross-Cultural Ministry class (online or at WWU).
  • Start sending out your fundraising letters. (Remember the Early Bird Travel Scholarship!)
  • March 27 - Deadline for Early Bird Travel Scholarship (have passed second screening and have 100 envelopes addressed and stamped*).


  • April - Finalize SM call (if not done already).
  • May 5-6 - Attend SM retreat.
  • May 12 - Attend/participate in SM dedication vespers.
  • May 14 - Attend teacher or deaning workshops.
  • May - June
    • Complete missions class (online or at WWU).
    • Make sure you have your necessary travel immunizations.

*Because of complications students may experience in finalizing their call locations, the fundraising letter does not have to be completed at this time. The Early Bird Travel Scholarship may still be obtained by addressing and stamping 100 envelopes so they are ready for letters later approved.

Commonly asked questions

The truth is, God did not call you because you already have the perfect skills, talents, or knowledge needed to serve. He called you because you made yourself available. Perhaps you’re struggling with feeling like you have the wrong motive for service or feeling like you have not dedicated enough to serve well. If that’s you, rest easy and remember that God doesn’t necessarily need us for His work but, because of His great love, He chooses to work in and through us to accomplish His purposes. He will give you resources, provide for you, equip you with what you need to get the job done, and ultimately, grow you through the joys and challenges of your SM journey. So the next time you feel unqualified for the dream you have been given, remember: God does not call the equipped—He equips the called!

This process begins by praying for guidance. Working with the SM office staff to break the process into smaller steps also makes the process more manageable. Stop by the Chaplain’s Office and we can discuss the exciting task of deciding where in the world you can go!

Most calls outside the U.S. are teaching, in either elementary or high school, or tutoring students of various ages. These calls offer structure and usually a living stipend. However, these aren’t the only positions available. There are also positions for assistant pastors, orphanage caregivers, English tutors, assistant deans, teacher’s aides, maintenance workers, librarians, office assistants, hospital assistants, and more! Specific calls can be created personally but only for students who complete their application early in the school year.

Probably one of the greatest needs is in the Central Pacific islands (Micronesia and the Marshall Islands). There are around 120 openings here alone. Other rewarding locations include Thailand, Poland, Denmark, Malawi, Egypt, Peru, Haiti, and the Philippines.

You are responsible for fundraising the amount needed for your specific call. All donated funds are allocated by the Chaplain’s Office. If the cost of the ticket, insurance, etc., exceeds the goal, we absorb the cost. Any excess funds raised go to assist the overall Student Missions program. That means the funds help other student missionaries go, provide emergency aid, and support student missionaries in the field. Checks should be made to “Walla Walla University.” Donations can be made online or in person. Donated funds are tax deductible. Students must fundraise for each trip. Money doesn’t carry over to or from other trips.

When you complete the SM application and are approved for a call, you are registered for the experiential program as a WWU student; therefore, loans are deferred the same as any other student. Graduates do not qualify for this, but there are other ways to defer loans. Students must attend WWU the quarter preceding their service to qualify.

If you are going anywhere except the 50 states, you will need a passport. If you need to apply for a passport, allow several months for processing. Many students already have current passports. We ask for a scanned copy of your passport so we can check to be certain it is valid for your trip. Please note that U.S. citizens must have a passport that will not expire for at least six months after their return date.

Along with sending you regular packages, emails, and support, we manage the business details involving flights, finances, and registering for experiential credit. We’ve even gone as far as flying a parent to a student in crisis for needed support.