The 40 Hottest Days of the Year
A student’s journey as a global mobilizer intern and teacher in Iraq.
7 min. read
November 30, 2023

Last January, if you had asked Avril Schatz what she would be doing during the summer of 2023, she probably would not have said teaching in Iraq. But God works in mysterious ways, and we cannot always anticipate what he has in store.

What began months prior as a quest for a mentor, led Schatz—a third-year student with a major in international development and minors in English writing and theology—to an internship placement as a global mobilizer intern, helping send students overseas to teach English in foreign countries.

Schatz first encountered her internship organization at a Redeemer job showcase hosted by the Career Centre.

“I was on my way to class and saw my friend talking at the booth.”

Schatz stopped and met the organization’s representative. The two instantly connected and remained in contact, and she soon became a mentor to Schatz. From this relationship, she offered Schatz an internship opportunity.

“Avril was an answer to prayer,” her mentor said. “If you’ve spent time with her, you know she is a passionate and devoted student of the Word. [It’s been] a gift to have her step into this internship and watch God use her.”

However, despite her heart and interest for international development and teaching, a legitimate concern made Schatz reluctant to accept: the organization was generally fundraising based, and she needed income for tuition.

“I wasn’t planning on doing [the internship] because of [this] objection,” she reflects.

But during their next meeting, her mentor informed her that she had been able to get funding, so she could take part in the internship and still save for school.

Through this, Schatz said that she saw God make a way to take the internship and travel to a country where Christians face significant persecution.

“I was brought so much clarity from the Lord that he opened this door and that he wanted me there. I had no objections or excuses anymore not to accept.”

After committing, Schatz reached out to a former boss at Tim Hortons to pick up some shifts before her internship kicked off in July—when she would go on an international service project.

She first travelled to Colorado and then Turkey for training and then headed to Iraq during Cile, the 40 hottest days of the year, for her teaching placement.

Though officially, as a global mobilizer intern, her task is to spread awareness about the program and engage with prospective students, Schatz had to truly experience what the program was about to speak on it effectively.

She spent nearly a month in Iraq teaching introductory English to adults as part of a team of four.

“We taught from 7 to 9:30 at night for four days a week. When we weren’t teaching, we did lesson prep and hung out with students.”

Though Schatz herself is still a student and has not actively considered a teaching degree, she felt that Redeemer prepared her for this role.

She says that a significant part of this was “watching professors and observing them and then doing my best to reproduce what I’ve seen to make sure I’m presenting well.”

I really encountered the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t feel alone.

As an international development major, Schatz is also thankful she had the opportunity to experience Iraq’s culture firsthand.

“I got to come back understanding the people better.”

But beyond her degree, and the professional experience her time in Iraq provided, Schatz knows that her internship—and how it came to be—has helped her to mature in her faith.

“[While I was in Iraq] I really encountered the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t feel alone. Denying myself and serving my teammates was a way that I could live out my faith.”

The feeling of peace through this time strengthened Schatz’s trust in God and his plan for her life.

“Too often people stay in their comfort zones and do not seek discernment from God about opportunities they might be presented with. People ask if a door is open and question if they should go through.”

“Take the opportunity. Take it and pray for assurance and confirmation,” she said, adding that God might close some doors, but if an opportunity comes that aligns with his word and will, it should be prayerfully considered.

Imagine if we all lived a fully surrendered life where we said, ‘God here is my yes; I’ll let you place it on the map. I trust you.’

Judging by her mentor’s praise, it is safe to say that Schatz has had a positive impact in this role.

“I’m proud of Avril. Not many people her age are willing to step out in general, especially not in uncomfortable ways even if it is something he asks them to do. But it isn’t about us; it’s about him. I am beyond thankful Avril is seeking, listening and obeying.”

Considering her impact so far, she hopes Schatz can be an inspiration to grow the program and get others to discern God’s calling.

“Imagine if we all lived a fully surrendered life where we said, ‘God here is my yes; I’ll let you place it on the map. I trust you.’”

To learn more about Schatz’s internship organization, you can contact her at aschatz@redeemer.ca.

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