Last semester, 20 Waynesburg University students spent their spring break visiting historical biblical locations abroad in Greece for the Footsteps of Paul trip.
In May of 2020, students will have a similar opportunity. Josh Sumpter, instructor of biblical studies and assistant chaplain, is partnering with Footstep Ministries to lead another Footsteps of Paul experience, this time in Italy, from May 4-15.
This will be Sumpter’s second opportunity to lead an overseas trip. He said that the idea for 2020’s destination came about after a conversation with Chairperson for the Fine Arts Department Andrew Heisey.
“He was interested in traveling to Italy, and I was interested in providing another opportunity for students to grow in understanding the history, specifically biblical context,” Sumpter said. “So, it was the logical next trip.”
Some of the locations that students will be visiting on the trip are presumed burial places of apostles Peter and Paul, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Vatican and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. For Sumpter, visiting historical biblical places changes the way that people read and look at the Bible.
“It makes things come alive, and that’s my hope for students,” Sumpter said. “That they would have their eyes and their hearts open, not just traveling to an amazing country, but rethinking how they read the Bible and how they understand history. They can experience it, and I think that’s very transformative. I’m excited that Waynesburg University students have that opportunity.”
Sumpter said that the cost for the trip hasn’t fully been determined yet, but will likely be around $3,400. Although that price is significant, Sumpter feels that college students could have an easier time covering the expenses for an overseas trip now as opposed to after graduation.
“I would say this is the time of life where you can raise that money, and people are willing to support you,” Sumpter said. “Post-college, the chances to study abroad or travel to Europe or to some of these historical sites is quite limited. Once you leave, student loans kick in, families kick in and work kicks in.”
The goal is for at least 25 students to go to Italy. Sumpter said that some of the students that went on the Greece trip had never flown on an airplane before, and sees the opportunity to travel a long distance through Waynesburg as a “blessing.”
“When you’re at Waynesburg University, this is the prime time to take advantage of some of these opportunities,” he said. “You’re going to be traveling with people who care for you, and Footstep Ministries, they are like family to me and some of our students that went to Greece. So my hope is that some of our students would share in that excitement.”
Sumpter advises students who could be interested in any aspect of the trip to think about going, regardless of cost.
“I would encourage students, if something on this trip sounds of interest, to strongly consider this opportunity,” Sumpter said. “Because it will be life-changing.”