Missions Week in Review
Perspectives and Incentives, Tailor-Made for You
Coordinator Jessica Campbell reported that the representatives of missions’ organizations were happy with the quality of conversations they shared with Trinity Western University students over Missions Week. I had the pleasure of hearing good stories from Expo, discovering modes of ministry as varied as our gifts, interests, and skills. What is in common is that there is truly something for everyone.
In the name of becoming “Global Christians”, students welcome the bombardment of statistics, shining examples, and smiling faces; of Chapel speakers; info sessions; screenings – just enough to momentarily shake us free of our complacency. If at the end of this week, we leave defining “Missions” as some ubiquitous wall separating Christians between “goers” (those who can stomach voyages to exotic or difficult places) and “wavers” (the rest of us), pay closer attention to these stories.
One couple representing New Tribes Mission of Canada, an organization dedicated to ministering to unreached tribes, proved that God can place anyone anywhere. Pat and Joe Chell, administrative assistants, explained how they got involved in a base in Papua, New Guinea. For perspective, New Guinea homes some 850 linguistic groups, covering quite different civilizations. The adventure started when the parents decided, “we wanted to do something international with our family. Our children were teen-aged, growing up in a very privileged society; while the rest of the world doesn’t go through that. We wanted our kids to experience that what’s normal for us isn’t normal for the rest of the world.” The couple, whose chief skills consisted of teaching rather than interacting with indigenous peoples, have been training MK’s – while other specialists in their base are telling it “on the mountain”.
In more restricted countries, like Sudan, sharing the news is more about “learning how to get people to ask the right questions”. Johan Strydom represented Pioneers, an organization responsible for sending some 28 permanent workers from Canada (150 from America) into the Muslim world last year, with 36 teams based in China alone. When asked the most rewarding aspect of conversion stories, he simply said: “People that used to have no hope, they now have hope.” Perhaps more useful than a pamphlet, Strydom had a reality check prepared for young adults: “Finish your degree, so that you have a reason to be in the country. Be flexible; don’t keep your hopes and your dreams loosely in your hands. The world changes, situations change all the time. Most importantly, make Jesus the focus of whatever you do.”
If cross-cultural communications are not your forte, there remains much need here in urban Canada. This is a hugely cross cultural ministry. About 85% of the youth we work with are First Nations and there is the additional poverty/inner-city cultural layers as well. This year, Jenny Shantz (former TWU student) shared the activities of Inner Hope Youth Ministries: a program based in East Vancouver dedicated to life skills coaching, housing, and discipleship for underprivileged teens and adults. Inner Hope was founded by Jenny and fellow TWU alum Carla Dickinson developing out of our experience as volunteers and then as staff at an Inner City church and the needs among the youth population we were serving (I founded Youth Extreme to recruit more help for the Inner-city church where I was originally involved),. “If you need a place to stay, we’ll let you live in the home; if you need help to graduate, we will match you up with a mentor.” Inner Hope challenges at-risk young people ages 13-24 to realize their potential and make a difference in the lives of people even more vulnerable than themselves through house building service trips to Mexico. Did not Christ call us to love our “neighbor?”
Whether it warrants us great expense or not, evangelizing is a charge we all share; only the venues vary. TWU Missions professor Dr. Jonathan Dawn shared, “We are all called to be witnesses. It doesn’t exclude anyone. Not everyone is able to function cross-culturally. God gives some people the gift of organization, which he uses to help the bigger cause. Some have gifting to be facilitators or [financial] supporters. There are organizers, who make things happen.” He noted, “There is intentional mission taking place here on campus,” mentioning students getting newsletters from persecuted pastors; contributing monthly for support of missionaries in different places; supplying for orphan children; and helping International students coming to faith.
Dawn challenged, “We can talk about missions all we want until the cows come home; but what matters is if we’re in love with the One we’re talking about.”