by Hugh Huguley
Is a better liaison possible between mission societies and the schools that train their forces?
Is a better liaison possible between mission societies and the schools that train their forces? The modern era has seen a growing effort to reduce tensions and build harmony between missions and churches. This timely thrust needs a companion focus. The view here is that present relations between missions and schools can be enriched and expanded. Wider service to global missions will be the result.
What should be the profile of this growing relationship?
PURPOSE AND APPROACH
Missions and Christian training centers are arms of the church. The former is an agency that assists the church through coordinating the services of the "sent ones." The latter (institute, college, or seminary) guides trainees through their spiritual, academic, and vocational development. How these relate in the preparing of future missioners may be charted as below:
If the mission society and the school are to provide mutual help for the missionary cause they must have a quality relationship. Basic to this is common adherence to biblical orthodoxy and joint submission to Christ as Lord. This union can then develop through response to the directives below.
1. "Love one another" (Jn. 13:34). Jesus taught that obedience to these words would provide identity for his party in all lands. Christ’s own compassion for men was to be the pattern for loving others. How may such be expressed?
First of all, love must be shared between people. There is no room in the armies of Christ for soldiers who are bereft of compassion. Our Lord will not bless any recruiting program or missiology without its features. Let the societies and schools be fellow communions of love that will foster the context in which they can march together in their common causes.
2. "Prefer one another" (Rom. 12:10). How can the bodies above be leaders in showing respect for each other? The institution can provide a platform for ministry and the missionary can proclaim a timely word. Occasionally I receive data on the expertise of forthcoming missionary guests. Advance notice like this can at times result in more exposure for the visitor and his mission. When such persons "deliver the goods" furture service to the school is more likely.
Hasn’t the time come for mission societies to promote and help finance more faculty visits abroad? When the "fields" are seen by those with sentient hearts compassion, prayer, and challenge in behalf of missions are almost certain results. These professors, who should be chosen from a variety of departments, would return to the classroom to enliven their ministry with first-hand data from the field. Their zeal may well result in new blood for the very societies that helped them to go out. Furthermore, not a few of these teachers could provide needful in-service training for the mission forces. This mutual help could hardly fail to upgrade missions on the campus and effectiveness on the field.
3. "Admonish one another" (Rom. 15:14). One of today’s pressing concerns relates to how the society and the school might achieve greater success in finding and training workers for the field. Would it not be a fruitful trend to see more conferences in churches and schools where the major feature was prayer for world evangelization?
Students of history will agree that prayer was a major dynamic that led the early Moravians in their bold new outreach. Between 1732 and 1752 they sent out more missionaries than all Anglicans and Protestants of the previous two hundred years. 1 Surely our zeal for unreached people and the growth of the church, both urgent, must move us to intercession for harvesters. This was the emphasis of Jesus when he spoke of the need for laborers.
4. "Serve one another" (Gal. 5:13). One service of schools to missions is the hosting of the missionary speaker. Such assistance can be given as often as it has mutual value. Over-exposure tends to create a "maze of missionaries" and sometimes student negativism. However, balance can be achieved through the formation of a sound philosophy that pertains to the campus visit. Periodic reviews will offer help in the measure of effectiveness.
One aid that missions could provide for schools seems to need a current word. Let societies arrange some of their media materials to coincide with the departmental curriculums of select schools. These films, slides, or other materials could then be provided with choice missions data, and society campus ministries would be greatly extended.
5. "Submit to one another" (Eph. 5:21). This directive is especially important when one is on another’s "turf." The wise campus visitor has a responsive spirit to the requests made of him, opportunities provided, and time allotted. Likewise, the educator is "here to learn" and be a servant when on the field. He takes occasion to fellowship with his missionary brother and ‘ ‘to pick his brain" in order to acquire greater skill in training harvesters.
MISSION REPS AND NEGATIVE INFLUENCE
The factors below seek expression in the spirit of Christian brotherhood and in keeping with the Solomonic word, "faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Pro. 27:6). Stronger bonds are more assured between missions and schools when the traits below do not surface.
1. Mission executives and representatives without "field perspective." Vague remarks about "our work in Amazonia" and some of the tedium of inter-office events may have their place. However, they are without priority for the campus platform. Blessed be the mission that keeps its leaders exposed to the fields and whose personnel are alive to what’s happening thereupon!
2. Visitors without gifts for campus ministries. A colleague of mine remarked of some mission speakers that "their image is hindered by their lack of communication skills." The visitor does not need to be electric with platform magnetism, but neither should he exude mediocrity. Prayerful and serious preparation is always helpful, however gifted one may be. Likewise, a warm heart for people helps one to be a winner.
3. Societies that recruit summer workers and prepare little for their ministry abroad. One young man went to an African nation with a reputable mission, having raised over $2,000 for his summer of service. His unready hosts had learned only days before that he was coming. Such awkward events invite negative feelings and harm the cause of missions.
4. Speakers, even skilled ones, who are chronic in using more than the allotted time. Rightly or wrongly, America has not become an "event oriented" society.
5. Visitors who are miffed over limited exposure. Professors want to have gifted missionaries in their classes, yet such is not always feasible, especially when such visitors are frequent.
STUDENT REMARKS ABOUT MISSIONARY VISITORS
The following comments by students appear to be fairly representative of campus thought.
"He evidenced genuine love; I could trust him." "Some missionaries talked for ten minutes and didn’t answer the question (symposium) and just rattled on." "He had a positive outlook even though there are needs and problems." "The speaker should understand the pressures the students are under" (i e., weekly calls for workers, needs on the field, etc.). "We would like to hear more women." "He was enthusiastic about missions."
"The speaker was capable and knew his material well." "It was dry and boring." "I like it to be humorous." "We need more audience interaction and response." "It had real life illustrations from the field." "His vocabulary was effective as he ministered to us."
"He was easy to talk to." "They should promote good literature." "I enjoyed the interview with the national couple." "I enjoyed and learned from the seminars; the speakers were well prepared and interesting." "I would like to talk more with missionaries in rap sessions."
EFFECTIVE CAMPUS MINISTRIES
Reflections upon the traits of effective campus ministries by mission personnel has led to the listings that follow. Their review may assist those who assign persons to work in the student world.
1. Obvious world vision and concern for the lost everywhere. The pressure of vision in the heart of a fellow believer exhorts others. Also, it provides a viable role model for the future missionary. Indifference about those who perish is too abundant to be promoted.
2. Sound and relevant ministries from the Word. The proverbial "taking the text and departing from it" happens. Speakers do not have to be missionary versions of Spurgeon, yet their use of Scripture ought to be a faithful, "dividing of the Word of Truth" (2 Tim 2:15). It never hurts to illustrate the text with fresh accounts from the fields and current trends in missions.
3. Evidence of world and field knowledge. One very successful visitor to our campus, a missions executive, is a leader in this regard. His vast knowledge of world geography and his burden for unreached people never fail to enhance his ministry.
4. Developed relationships with members of the campus family. Friendships as well as excellent programs help to increase a mission’s personnel. As it becomes possible, let missionaries build cordial associations with people wherever they are.
5. Quality ministries upon visits. May God enable the campus visitor to "ring the bell" whether it is in chapel, class, dorm fellowship, prayer band, conference, or private session. Such will surpass the average and edify the hearer. Moreover, it extends one’s opportunity to serve the cause of missions in the future.
6. Inquiry about ways of fitting in on campus. This mark of courtesy will be viewed in good light by most any school administration. It may also alert the caller to some needed emphasis that could be made, or to a further service that could be offered.
7. Prepared materials (announced by letter beforehand) for chapel and/or classroom use. One mission has been especialy helpful on our campus in that its visitor (s) has lectures that are capable of use in a multiplicity of classes and departments. This is a highly useful way whereby the society can serve the school and multiply its visibility.
8. Well conceived and presented summer ministries. Many young people have been motivated to short-term and career service through their summer abroad. Also, these students return to the campus with peer influence in behalf of mission.
9. Communication of the corporate vision and long-range goals of the mission. When students are shown that they can be a part of a missionary fellowship that knows where it is going they are attracted.
10. Old fashioned humility. A missionary, on his first furlough, was about to speak in the chapel of the school where he trained. He was already nervous when Murphy’s law began to work. The recorder wouldn’t function and the slide projector jammed. After two or three attempts to get things going he gave up and took his place before the student body. In a somewhat awkward fashion he began to speak out of his heart. The blessing of the Lord was wonderfully upon him, and his hearers were blessed with a high point in the day. Without the meekness of Christ no skills, however great, and no sharpness, however keen, will avail in Christ’s service on the campus, or anywhere.
Copyright © 1981 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.