COLUMBIA – Nearly 200 college students from Missouri campuses gathered at Woodcrest Chapel, Feb. 21-23, to be called and sent on mission wherever God is asking them to go.
Through worship led by modern hymnist Matt Papa and teaching by several different speakers at main sessions and breakouts, the students were challenged to see themselves as ambassadors of Jesus everywhere they go – to their classes, to their families, to their communities, and to the nations.
This call changed the way students viewed the gospel and themselves. “It opened my eyes to how important it is to not just keep the gospel to ourselves, but to go and share it to those who don’t have access to it,” says Bukuru from Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in the Kansas City area. Other students realized the difference between hearing the call and responding. “It is not simply enough to hear the call,” says one student from Northwest Missouri State University (NMSU). “We must obey the call and actually go.” Still others saw the need to support missionaries across the globe.
For some students, the call to missions hit home – literally – as their eyes opened to the opportunities around them to make disciples. Patrick from Crowder College was motivated “to not wait to serve. My eyes were opened on how I can serve God now. I am looking into doing an internship through MBCollegiate.” Emma from MCC realized she needs to “just go out and do ministry and stop worrying about it.” Another MCC student grasped that “my calling to share is more important than my career.”
The conference also served as a place of calling and confirmation to go to the nations. “God stirred a fire in my heart to see Him be praised and glorified by all nations,” says one student from the Lighthouse BSU at NMSU. “[God] showed me that my purpose on this earth is to be an ambassador of His Word, so that all peoples may hear the good news of Jesus.”
The emphasis on global missions was a key aim behind the conference’s missions focus this year. “We always want to help students understand that their responsibility as followers of Jesus is to live life on mission in their current setting – the campus and other spheres of influence,” says David Hendrick, MBCollegiate Missions Strategist. “However, going into the conference we wanted to increase their awareness of opportunities internationally and the resources available to them through the MBC to assist them in getting to the ends of the earth.”
Marie Edwards, Student Mobilization Associate with the IMB, spoke to the students about mission opportunities. She and her associate, Van, staffed a booth to converse with students throughout the weekend. “We were so encouraged to hear the missional heart and vision of many Missouri students and their leaders,” she says of their conversations. They received response cards from twenty-one students, twelve of whom expressed interest in summer and semester mission opportunities. The other nine were interested in the IMB’s Journeyman program. Journeymen are recent graduates under 30 who are sent by their churches to work with IMB mission teams around the world for a two-year term. Edwards plans to connect with all MBCollegiate Campus Missionaries over the next few months to continue exploring how to send students to the nations.
Coming to the conference to help mobilize students was a poignant experience for Edwards, since Columbia is where her own passion for missions took root. While in college at Mizzou, a group of student leaders from the BSU challenged her to consider missional service. After a short-term trip one summer, the Lord confirmed His calling on her life to full-time mission work. “It was both a joy and honor to be mobilizing in the city where I was mobilized myself all those years ago!” Edwards wrote to MBCollegiate Director, Gene Austin. The conference gave Edwards the chance to challenge another generation of college students to consider missional service.
Campus Missionary Paul Damery from Missouri Western State University says the conference couldn’t have come at a better time – or with a more applicable focus given their upcoming spring break mission trip to help a church planter in Phoenix, Ariz. Damery has several students considering the Journeyman program, and “dialoguing with the IMB reps was invaluable for them,” he says. The weekend provided a perfect opportunity for God to shape his students’ hearts for mission, such as Kaitlynn, who realized, “I have been a Jonah and have been saying no to God.” Another student, Tayler, felt compelled to answer God’s call to the global mission field.
“I’m so thankful to see God at work in the lives of the next generation as they respond to Him to be on mission both locally and abroad,” says Hendrick of the outcome of the conference. IMB and MBCollegiate will continue working together to equip students for missions locally and abroad. Edwards says she and her team “want to make sure that every MBCollegiate student and student leader knows what pathways are available to them to serve with the IMB…. We want … to see the gospel reach the nations!”