Missions Emphasis Week brings global message

Students get new look at the world’s needs with special missions focused events

Liberty is looking beyond Lynchburg lines with a focus on global missions.

Special events and missions-focused convocations were scheduled for Missions Emphasis Week, which kicked off Sunday, Sept. 18 and ended on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Missions Emphasis Week is held each semester, giving students the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of what God is doing in other parts of the world. This semester’s theme was “How Will They Hear?”

Seminars on missions-related subjects such as balancing family and ministry, teaching English as a second language, tips for language learning and support raising were offered throughout the week. Many representatives also spoke during hall meetings at residence halls.

Monday’s convocation speaker was Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. and author of bestselling book “The Purpose Driven Life.” He spoke about the importance of church-planting, serving, helping the poor and sick and educating the next generation.

Wednesday’s convocation speaker was missionary Gracia Burnham, who served with New Tribes Mission with her husband, Martin, for 17 years. Burnham and her husband were kidnapped by a militant Muslim group while serving as missionaries in the Philippines in 2001. They spent 376 days in captivity before Martin was killed in a firefight between their kidnappers and the Philippine army. Burnham was wounded in the fight but freed. She has since authored two books, “In the Presence of My Enemies” and “To Fly Again.” She shares her story at conferences, churches and schools.

“I think the speakers were really good at showing students who might not know much about missions what it really means to go out and do missions,” junior Lauren Elliot said. “It’s good to actually hear what missions is — what Gracia Burnham showed us with her story and her life.”

Glenn Kurka served as a missionary in the jungles of the Philippines for 10 years and has led short-term trips overseas to colder climates such as war-torn Bosnia. He now serves in Lynchburg with his wife, Sandy, as a “mission mobilizer” helping many Liberty students get involved in global missions.

“In past years, it was mostly the Biblical studies, pastoral studies and youth ministry majors that became missionaries. Now, it is so exciting to see students from any and every major committed to go to the nations and use their education and skills to develop relationships for advancing the gospel,” Kurka said. “That’s why CrossWorld is committed to help mentor Liberty students and help them find God’s place in this world for serving him.”

Kurka’s agency, CrossWorld, was one of six agencies — including New Tribes Mission, Serving in Missions, Christar and Liberty’s Ethnomusicology program — which sent representatives to campus for Missions Emphasis Week. Representatives set up booths in the main hallway of Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center and made time to answer questions and share their experiences with students throughout the week.

Kurka believes that the future of completing the Great Commission is in the hands of this generation, which is passionate about beliefs and willing to sacrifice whether they are young people willing to give their lives serving in the military, or dedicating their lives to global missions. He believes if students can learn to make disciples of Jesus now, as students, they will be prepared to do so in any area God may call them to serve.

“We do this because we’re enthralled with Jesus, and we want others to know Him,” John Miller, a Christar representative who has been helping mobilize Liberty students for the past four years, said. “We spend time discipling and mobilizing students to enjoy Jesus and become more like Him so they can help the least-reached hear about Jesus for the first time — a cause worth giving our lives to.”

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