September 1, 2002
Hannibal — Hufty takes that prayer to heart, hoping his own ministry will continue beyond his life by impacting students at Hannibal-LaGrange College, as well as his own children.
Tom Hufty wears many hats at Hannibal-LaGrange including administrator over college-church relations, chapel, missions and campus ministries. He is also a part-time professor. Though his jobs range from signing purchase orders to training student missionaries for overseas trips, his vision for missons and evangelism remains the focus.
"Five years ago, when I arrived at HLG, Dr. Burt (HLG president) wanted to raise the level of missions at the college," said Hufty, who serves as vice president for collegiate affairs and assistant to the president. "Dr. Burt saw what a summer of missions did in his own life, cast the vision and gave the support for it to happen at HLG."
Since then, mission opportunities at Hannibal-LaGrange have become global. Partnerships have developed with three organizations: Global Encounter Ministries in Springfield; Awe Star Ministries in Tulsa, Okla.; and the European Baptist Convention, based in Frankfurt, Germany. Each summer, HLG hosts more than 100 students training for Awe Star’s international trips to places like Uganda, Africa, Peru and Mexico.
"Working with some of these ministries can qualify students for scholarship dollars, showing that missions is a priority at HLG," said Hufty. Additionally, a missions minor was added last year to HLG’s list of academic programs.
Each school break offers opportunities to serve, whether it is local ministry with Habitat for Humanity or overseas travel to places like India, Germany and Switzerland. Those breaks include a two-day fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and summer. This summer alone, more than 70 students participated in missions in some capacity.
Other initiatives include the addition of a student-run missions office last year, supervised by Hufty. Also, a missions emphasis takes place each year, highlighting student mission experiences as well as hosting missionary guest speakers during special chapel services.
Hufty believes such opportunities are coming to fruition as a result of obedience to God.
"We’re doing what God wants us to do, so He’s blessing it," he said.
Though Hufty cannot personally go on each trip, one of his primary purposes is to prepare students through cultural training.
"These mission opportunities enlarge the students’ vision; it deepens their burden," Hufty said. "They have a global interest. They come back from these trips saying, ‘I never dreamed I could do what I did, or that I would see what I saw.’"
Another facet of Hufty’s job includes providing pulpit supply and ministry teams for youth and revival weekends in churches. He said it’s important for students to get a feel for ministry in the local church. Hufty himself served as a youth minister for 23 years before coming to HLG.
"Students can work with all kinds of people in the church," he said. "There are different ‘cultures’ even within the state of Missouri. I want to encourage our students who are eager to preach, but I also want them to gain wisdom working with people. I tell them to love people, not force them into growth."
Hufty added that Christian studies majors are not the only students seeking to serve.
"Every student has a ministry," he said. "We want them to understand that if they become a teacher or a coach, that’s their platform for ministry."
Beyond the college campus, Hufty and his wife, Rhonda, lead youth and parenting conferences around the state. For several years, they have led workshops at Bible Preaching Week each summer in Missouri.
Hufty also has a passion to strengthen families. He places his main emphasis on training parents and future parents to "raise kids right."
"I feel we have a generation of parents who are sub-contracting out their kids, relying on schools for social development and churches for spiritual development," said Hufty. He recognizes the importance of youth ministry, but believes parents must be the primary influence on their children.
Through the classroom, chapel sermons, speaking engagements, missions training and other ministries, Hufty is training future parents and present missionaries to influence the world for Christ.
"To me, HLG is a wonderful platform to change the culture," said Hufty. "I believe that my responsibility is to teach students not to impress the culture, but to impact it."
(Erica Henry is a writer in the HLG public relations office.)