Monday kicks off BJU’s annual Missions Emphasis Week, which continues until Thursday. This year’s theme centers on Romans 15:8-9: “That All People Might Glorify God for His Mercy.”
Mr. Mark Vowels, head of missions at BJU, has served as the overseer of Missions Emphasis Week since he came to BJU in 2000. Prior to his arrival, Mr. Vowels planted a Spanish-speaking church in Tampa, Fla., and led its congregation for 10 years. He was also involved in short-term missions work in Cuba.
“For me, the best part is when a speaker really connects with the students and encourages them to at least think about how they could use what God has gifted them with to serve in missions,” Mr. Vowels said.
The primary way the University informs students about missions is through the guest speakers in chapel. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Philip Hunt, president of Central Africa Baptist College and assistant director of Independent Baptist Mission (IBM) Global, a missions agency.
Along with the messages in chapel, nearly 150 mission board representatives will be on campus from organizations around the world. Informative displays will be on exhibit in the Riley Reception Room above the Student Center for students to obtain more information regarding summer, short-term or career missions.
“Missions, in its essence, is just making disciples in places that are not home for you,” Mr. Vowels said. He emphasized that students don’t necessarily have to be pastors or teachers to become missionaries.
For example, Mr. Vowels shared a story about a friend who owns a coffee shop in Bangladesh. Why Bangladesh? Not only is the coffee business a profitable one, his friend had explained, but all of his employees are Muslims. Working in Bangladesh gives him the opportunity to witness to them.
Students are already praying about where God might lead and use them in the area of summer missions. Over 165 students attended informative meetings on Oct. 1 that described the mission teams available for the summer of 2013 in places like Africa, Antigua, Australia, China, Southeast Asia and the Western U.S., as well as opportunities for musical mission teams and construction teams.
Additionally, many missionaries will reach out to students by speaking in classes. Dr. Grace Hargis of the English Language and Literature faculty invites a speaker to her Structure of Modern English class nearly every year. “I want my students to realize some of the practical uses of what they are studying,” Dr. Hargis said. The speakers she requests typically focus on using English or TESL teaching abroad.
According to Mr. Vowels, the goal of Missions Emphasis week is not for the School of Religion to convince as many students as possible to change their majors—in fact, that is the opposite of BJU’s goal. “We want people to understand that they can use their major for going to just about anywhere,” he said. “A person could be involved in any kind of profession and be involved in any place around the world.”