Students explore world cultures during Global Focus Week events
As Liberty University prepares to conclude its Global Focus Week on Friday, students continued to learn ways they can use their talents and passions to impact the world for Christ.
“We watch the news, and we see a lot of the negative events that are happening, but we don’t often hear the stories of what God is doing in the midst of those, and how God is working through those circumstances,” Melody Harper, department chair of Liberty’s Global Studies program, said. “So we have sought this week to offer a variety of different opportunities to expose students to those things.”
Various events held throughout the week have introduced students to different cultures and provided them with opportunities to connect and network with those serving around the world.
On Monday night, students gathered in the LaHaye Event Space to experience a simulated tribal environment. Hosted by people who have spent more than 20 years translating Scripture and living in the tribal context, the event allowed students to hear about the experience firsthand.
Ryan Stoll, who is studying at Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary, said this was an eye-opening experience.
“It’s really just awesome to communicate with (these workers) that have been out in the field, to see what it looks like to work with tribal groups,” he said. “The biggest thing for me was to realize that this is something an ordinary person can do. Getting to see (those) who have gone out and have spent their lives doing this … they are normal people. … (I) start to think, ‘this is something that I can do as well.’”
During Global Focus Week, 36 different organizations visited Liberty to educate, mentor, and recruit students. Representatives spent the week getting to know students through recruitment fairs, classroom presentations, one-on-one meetings, and other events.
Lisa Kappeler, a representative with New Tribes Mission, works in Papua, New Guinea, with the Uriary tribal group. She said that she has enjoyed interacting with students this week and hearing professors challenge them to share the Gospel.
“It is amazing to see the opportunities that students have here to understand the (parts of) the world that do not have the Gospel,” she said. “Even in the middle of the jungle on the other side of the world, we know that we have advocates here at Liberty who continually challenge students to fill the needs that are all around the world.”
Tuesday night in the LaHaye Multipurpose Center, students sampled cuisine from around the world at one of the week’s most popular events, the Taste of Nations. International students shared their traditional foods and educated their peers on life in their home country. Students also performed traditional music and dances.
Sharon Chimere-Dan, a graduate business student from South Africa, said it means a lot to her that Liberty sets aside a specific week each semester for global focus.
“I felt valued as an international student this week at Liberty, and I am thankful that I was able to share my culture with other students,” she said.
Wednesday’s Convocation reinforced the week’s theme as Clayton King, president of Crossroads Worldwide, expressed the need for Christians to be involved globally, either by going or sending others to the nations.
King, who has spoken in 45 states and 38 different countries, explained that the power of the Gospel is changing lives all over.
“Not only is the Gospel working, it is working right here among us,” King said, “It is working on this campus, and it is working around the world.”
King stressed the importance of not only understanding and accepting the Gospel, but also being willing to share the message with others.
“In the fullness of time, according to God’s sovereign plan, He sent Jesus into the world so the rest of the world could sit down at the same feast that God’s chosen people have been enjoying,” King said. “That is the heart of (the Great Commission). It is not just that we get to feast with great worship and great preaching and great teaching. It is that we get to share what we have.”
Great Commission emphasized as Global Focus Week begins
International students proudly waved the flags of their home nations as they filed into the Vines Center to the beat of Newsboys’ “He Reigns” during Monday’s Convocation, celebrating the beginning of Global Focus Week.
The biannual event is hosted by the Center for Global Engagement. Throughout the week, students will be shown how they can use their talents, gifts, and passions in every area of study to take their degree global. A number of events are scheduled, providing opportunities for students to explore different cultures and encouraging them to get involved overseas. These events include the Taste of Nations, a chance to experience traditional food from other cultures; Tribal, a tribal culture simulation; and Prayer for the Persecuted. A “Cultural Break” is also being held in the Jerry Falwell Library each afternoon through Thursday from 2-4 p.m., allowing students to experience the art, culture, and cuisine from various nations. See the full schedule for times and locations, as well as other events.
This week, 36 different organizations are visiting campus, bringing with them a wide variety of insight and experience. Their goal is to educate, mentor, and recruit students to join what God is doing in the nations. Representatives will speak in classes, in hall meetings and participate in special Convocations and seminars throughout the week.
“This is just a little taste of what it’s going to be like when every nation, not just political nation, but every ethno-linguistic group, every tribe, every tongue, is gathered together worshipping the One And Only who reigns in this world,” Melody Harper, department chair of Liberty’s Global Studies program, said.
During Convocation, students from nations such as the Bahamas, Albania, Germany, Rwanda, and Thailand took turns reciting Rev. 7: 9-10 in their native tongue while wearing traditional clothing from their country.
Ghassan Thomas, a pastor from the Middle East, also spoke to the students, sharing stories to encourage them in their walks with Christ, regardless of where they currently live.
Thomas was raised in Baghdad, Iraq, and opened an underground church in his home, which quickly grew to 1,500 after a year.
“We prayed to have freedom in the country,” Thomas said. “God sent freedom through American military, and after that it was easy to start a church.”
That church is now the largest in Baghdad, he explained.
Thomas recounted the trials he faced in Iraq, Australia, and Turkey as he preached the Gospel, receiving many threats and moving often. Thomas said he trusted God to lead him, and he assured students he didn’t mind moving. He simply planted a church wherever he went.
Thomas said that many religions have good aspects to them, but a distinctive of Christianity is God’s love for the world.
“We have (a) God is (who is) love, so for this reason, we should go out in all the world because God loved all the world,” he said.
Thomas closed by reminding students to share the Gospel message without fear of persecution.
Dr. John Strohman, assistant attorney general for the state of South Dakota, then shared his heart for the Great Commission with students.
Strohman is an author, Bible teacher, and the chairman of Cross Centered Missions. He warned students of the “fake commission” in which the biblical command is shifted to focus solely on social issues and void of the Gospel message.
“If you engage in imitation, you have taken the power of almighty God and reduced it to a religious form of a peace corps,” Strohman said.
Strohman recounted stories of missionaries as he cautioned students to not fall into the trap of engaging in missions merely for sake of appearances.
“Let this generation be the one that (puts an end to) going on a mission trip just to put something on a résumé,” Strohman said.
Strohman offered each student access to a free online copy of his book, “The Fake Commission” and a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.