Liberty University alumnus Mick Stockwell (’80) spoke to students about the call to the mission field at Wednesday’s convocation during Missions Emphasis Week.
It was at a missions convocation at Liberty in 1977 that Stockwell felt called to do missionary work overseas. After 17 years of ministry stateside, he moved to the Ukraine with his wife and three sons. He now supervises about 700 missionaries in 50 different countries through the International Mission Board (IMB).
Stockwell urged students to be “agile and mobile” and to always be aware of what God is doing in the world around them. He read from Matthew 16 and explained that the disciples were not perfect, but Jesus chose to use them to build his church.
“Jesus says to you this: I give you the keys to the kingdom. The disciples weren’t rocket scientists, they didn’t have a degree in law. They were regular people just like you and me, struggling. And Jesus said to them, ‘I give you the keys to the kingdom,’” he said.
Stockwell ended his message by encouraging students to trust God completely with their future plans. He challenged them to keep an open heart and mind about what God might ask them to do.
“Are you ready when God moves and shows you something? Are you ready to be agile and mobile? Are you ready in the spirit of liberty to live the adventure of faith? Will you take the keys to the kingdom and go forward? It’s our time -- let’s do this,” Stockwell said.
Missions Emphasis Week is held each semester and gives students opportunities to be involved in mission work locally and abroad. Missions organizations are invited to set up displays in the back hallway of the DeMoss Learning Center, and representatives are available to talk with students. The displays will be set up through Wednesday.
Missions-centered seminars and special events are planned Monday and Tuesday in the Elmer Towns Religion Hall and in DeMoss Hall (see full schedule). Topics include ethnomusicology, teaching English, tentmaking and discipleship.
A Liberty alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons, has been working as a representative for CrossWorld for the past five months. The organization coordinates internships and long-term missionary service overseas. The alumnus said working closely with missionaries has shown her how to live a life of impact wherever she is. She believes Missions Emphasis Week is an important time in each semester for students to focus on their role in the Great Commission.
“Having gone to Liberty myself, I definitely think it challenges people to be world-changers wherever you’re going to go. Whether you’re going to stay in the states or whether you’re going to go overseas, we are all called to be disciple-makers and we are all called to fulfill the Great Commission,” she said.
International Mission Board representatives Randy and Kittie Trail believe Liberty University is a good place to recruit students for missionary opportunities because of the diverse academic programs Liberty offers. According to Randy Trail, all majors can be useful for missionary work in different ways, especially for gaining access into closed countries.
“We use people in all kinds of areas to do mission work. We can get into some of these closed countries where they would not allow a ‘pastor’ to come in, but they will take a teacher or a businessperson or a lawyer. Liberty is producing those kinds of people, that’s one reason we’re here,” Trail said.
As the main convocation speaker, Bush explained the need for students to reach out to kids ages 4 to 14, citing research that shows that in America most decisions made for Christ are made between those ages. He referred to this as the “4:14 window.”
“We have a calling today, each one of us. As we look at the world to find our place, to move to where He wants us to move, I sense that God has a very unique calling upon this very unique family here at Liberty University. It’s a call to consider not only the generation that is here, but consider the generation that is to come,” Bush said.
He explained that research has shown that most children’s moral and spiritual foundations have already been built by age 13. At that point, he said, their identities have been shaped. He also said a person’s lifelong behaviors and worldview are developed by the age of 15.
“Filling the earth with God’s glory is our mission both geographically but also demographically, and when we look at this demographic challenge, that’s the 4:14 window," Bush said. "They are the ones most in need of freedom, and to maximize their impact they need spiritual liberty. The heart of transformation is the transformation of the heart.”