Summer missionaries on 'frontlines'

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 13, 2011 8:22 PM
Summer missionaries on 'frontlines'
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--A chorus of student voices singing, "Send us out, Lord," filled the auditorium as 85 student missionaries and their families gathered at the North American Mission Board for the "Great Send Off" commissioning service June 8.

After two weeks of preparation and training, the students will travel across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico to provide leadership and logistics support at World Changers and PowerPlant projects this summer.

Jack Blankenship, a former summer staffer with World Changers, addressed the student missionaries, noting the enormity of their mission this summer.

"We are part of a global plan to put Jesus on display to show how great He is," Blankenship said. "Don't let the preparation and the emotions eclipse the bigger picture."

Blankenship went on to describe the importance of making the Gospel the most important part of their summer experience.

"We are now on the road to living in reconciliation with God," Blankenship said. "And if that is not the center point of who you are, you're going to miss out on God's purpose for you this summer. You'll do some good stuff, but you won't glorify God like you were created to do."

Referencing 2 Corinthians 4, Blankenship reminded students that the Gospel empowers; it pulls Christians back to the truth and propels them forward; and it motivates believers to serve.

Blankenship warned that they might have times during the summer when they are tempted to lose heart.

"When this happens, you have to take the Gospel and allow it to permeate every bit of your thinking and your actions. God is sufficient during those times," Blankenship said.

Blankenship, a campus minister for Winthrop University and York Technical College, talked about the importance of college students living with a passion and urgency to share the Gospel on campus, across North America and overseas.

"The sovereign Creator is using you to point people to Jesus," Blankenship said. "You may have one opportunity to share the Gospel this summer or 5,000 opportunities. Don't let them pass you by. Actively look for those opportunities."

Keyla Rodriguez, a member of Iglesia Bautista El Mesias in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, is excited about the opportunity to talk to students about missions during the summer. Rodriguez is the missions communication specialist for one of the World Changers summer staff teams, in her second year to serve on staff.

"A lot of students want to serve in missions, but they don't know how to get involved," Rodriguez said. "My job is to help tell them about the many opportunities there are to serve God through student missions and connect them to those opportunities."

Rodriguez is especially looking forward to the two projects her team will staff in her hometown of Juana Diaz.

"As a Spanish speaker, I know firsthand that the Lord is the Lord of the nations. Being able to witness students from the U.S. work with students from Puerto Rico to serve the people there is an amazing thing for me," she said.

Through World Changers, about 19,500 students will travel to 88 cities -- including Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico -- to participate in 95 projects involving roof installation, drywall repair, painting and ministry evangelism this summer.

Another 2,200 students will participate in PowerPlant projects in 22 cities from New York to San Francisco, learning about local church planting efforts and working alongside a church planter.

John Bailey, NAMB's team leader for World Changers and PowerPlant, talked about the vital role the summer staffers play in the lives of the participants.

"Our summer staff have both a passion for missions and a genuine desire to work with students," Bailey said. "I'm anticipating them having some great conversations with our participants about reaching North America for Christ.

"There's still a deeper level of commitment that we are calling our student participants to, and our summer staff help convey that challenge."

Bailey talked about the growing amount of needs that exist in the cities where they have projects, including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo., where tornadoes caused massive destruction this spring.

"Those cities were chosen well before the tornadoes," Bailey said. "God has a purpose for our being in those communities this summer.

"If ever we needed a strong year for participation, it would be this year, and Southern Baptist churches have stepped up to the challenge. They want their students on the frontlines of missions."

Carol Pipes writes for the North American Mission Board.

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