Feb 26, 2008

Students respond to the Macedonian call

by Stan Barringer

The “Macedonian call” recorded in Acts 16 echoed throughout Liberty Mountain during Missions Emphasis Week as over 100 missionaries and support staff challenged Liberty students to join them in fulfilling Christ’s great commission. The conference, which ran from Feb. 17-22, was named “The Macedonian Call” after Paul’s vision from Acts 16.
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“In Acts 16, Paul saw a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to come help his people,” Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore said. “The vision for this conference is to bring people from all over the world to say ‘come help us’ in their own languages.”
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Moore said that some missionaries temporarily left work overseas to come interact with Liberty students and that representatives from 54 missionary organizations met students at booths throughout DeMoss Hall.
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“This week is not just an emphasis,” Moore said.
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“It is intended as a week of decisions. Most of the spiritual work (in students) does not take place in convocation or in seminars. It takes place when students interact with missionaries and truly feel the burden of people across the world who are perishing without the gospel,” Moore said.
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Personal contact between missionaries and students was a crucial part of the week, Moore said.
“Every student should be practicing Acts 1:8,” Wycliffe Bible Translators representative Aaron Hoffman said, referring to the call of Christ to spread the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. 
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“There is no secular work. If you work stateside, that is your Jerusalem. But you can work through your church to reach the uttermost ends of the earth. We can be good witnesses for Christ or bad ones, but everyone is a witness for Christ,” he said.
Hoffman said students should value this time of youth.
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“It’s great to be young and to do what God sets in front of you,” Hoffman said. “My wife and I have been with Wycliffe for 44 years, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t think of anything more rewarding.”
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The conference began with missions events at Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday, Feb. 17. Missionaries shared stories with Sunday school classes and met congregants at booths on Main Street, TRBC’s central fellowship area. Missionary Steve Saint, whose father was killed by the same tribe of Waodani people that later adopted Steve, addressed TRBC in the evening service. Saint was accompanied by Mincaye, the Waodani tribesman who dealt the killing blow to Saint’s father in 1956 and later converted to Christianity.
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Liberty’s student body heard Saint’s and Mincaye’s stories, which were both humorous and challenging, at Wednesday’s convocation.
Chinese house church leader Brother Yun spoke through a translator in Monday’s convocation. Yun founded Back to Jerusalem, a missionary project dedicated to reaching every nation between China and Israel with the gospel. Yun said that although the Chinese Communist regime once boasted of having killed, exiled or imprisoned every Christian in China, over 130 million Christians now live in the country.
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Missionary-led seminars throughout the week introduced students to the unique challenges of cross-cultural ministry. Seminars caused a surprise or two, according to Dr. Don Fanning, director of Liberty’s Cross Cultural Studies Department and director of the Center for Global Ministry.
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“The greatest surprise of the week was that Mincaye’s wife, Omparae, was able to come speak,” Fanning said. “We had no idea what that would be like. She had never spoken before.”
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Omparae answered questions from Fanning at a Ladies’ International Café in Pate Chapel.
“Now, you have to understand that her people talk for about 16 hours a day,” Fanning said. “And when they talk, they constantly have to do something with their hands. I gave Omparae some string, and she wove a necklace while she answered questions.”
Fanning said that the conference emphasizes not only missions work but also matters of the heart beyond world evangelization.
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“What we call ‘missions’ is really just fulfillment of the biblical mandate,” Fanning said. “For Christians, and for Liberty, everything has got to have some play in that mandate. The conference is to give students a vision. Give them information about what is going on in the world. Give them a challenge to face the ‘grand decision of life’ – do I live for myself, or do I live to please the Lord?”
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Many students reflected upon this “grand decision of life.” Senior biblical studies major Hannah Bass, who also volunteers for the Center for Global Ministry, worked throughout the week at a booth in DeMoss Hall. She said interaction with missionaries clarified her concept of international ministry.
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“Missions Emphasis Week affected me by showing me a different side of the missions organizations,” Bass said. “Sometimes it can seem like they are competing when, truly they and we are working toward the same goal of proclaiming Christ, just in different ways.”
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Bass, who co-led a missionary team to Romania in the summer of 2006, said the week gives direction to students who want to pursue missions work but do not know where to begin.
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“Many students are serious about foreign and domestic missions but feel at a loss for how to proceed,” Bass said. “Missions Emphasis Week can help guide them in the process.”
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“We are such a forgetful people,” Moore said. “We are so easily self-centered that it is beneficial to put this Macedonian call – frequently – right in front of our faces. We see this repeatedly in Paul’s writing. We need to frequently put ourselves in a place of remembrance.”
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Moore views the importance of Missions Emphasis Week as two-fold.
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“I believe that one of these weeks, one of these years, God will give us a William Carey or a Nate Saint,” Moore said. “Missions Emphasis Week is a vision-casting experience for our generation. In this generation, God has historic intentions.”
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Contact Stan Barringer at spbarringer@liberty.edu.


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