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Missions Emphasis Week kicks off

September 19, 2011 : Bethany Pico/Liberty University News Service

Students speak with representatives from missions agencies in DeMoss Hall on Monday.

Missions Emphasis Week kicked off at Liberty University today, giving students a chance to meet representatives from mission agencies and attend a special mission-focused convocation.

Liberty holds Missions Emphasis Week each semester. This fall, the theme is “How Will They Hear?”

Missionary representatives from Liberty’s six-strategic partner agencies lined the back hallway of Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center. Many came from all over the world to network, educate and recruit students. Students were encouraged to have lunch with them in Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.

Students also have a chance to learn more about global missions during a series of seminars on Monday and Tuesday (view the schedule here).

During Monday’s convocation, Rick Warren, pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and the bestselling author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” challenged students to have a “bifocal vision of the world” by being locally and globally involved in missions.

“I want to invite you to start a revolution. All you need to do is pray a two-word prayer to God: Use me,” Warren said.

Warren spoke about the five “global goliaths” that plague the world: spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy.

The antidote to the goliaths is an acronym he coined “The PEACE Plan,” based upon Jesus’ example: Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation.

Warren shared an experience of having his eyes opened to missions work while traveling in South Africa. He said he had spent so much time training pastors, but never had a global outlook.

Rick Warren spoke to students about global missions at Monday's convocation.

In America, he said, we should feel blessed with so much and missions should be a priority.

“With greater blessing comes greater responsibility ... the purpose of influence is to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves,” Warren said.

This was Warren’s first time to speak in convocation, but he has spoken at conferences on the Liberty campus before.

In an interview before convocation, Warren said he and Liberty’s founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, were dear friends. He recalled in his teens, at the end of a weeklong revival he was leading at a small church, how he felt discouraged by the attendance and lack of passion. He said it was his first time feeling discouragement in ministry. He was in a pastor’s study praying about it when he found a record album of Jerry Falwell speaking about how to grow your Sunday School. But the album was accidentally played on the wrong side, which happened to be a sermon from Falwell about discouragement.

He recalled Falwell saying: “‘You don’t determine a man’s greatness by his talent or his wealth but by what it takes to discourage him.’”

“I told Jerry [after becoming good friends with him] that he should tell all the students in every graduating class that truth,” Warren said.

Warren told students that to be successful in their lives, they need to remember to focus on missions, the heartbeat of God.

“Never stop learning, never compare yourself, and never give up. … Skills, not dedication, will bring success. Work smarter, not harder. If you can keep learning, God will keep using you.”

Missions Emphasis Week will continue with Gracia Burnham at Wednesday’s convocation. Burnham and her husband, Martin, 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.