History professor opens up about his adventurous past
Professor, missionary, minister, husband and father — Dr. Christopher Jones, who holds a doctorate in education with a concentration in social studies education, wears many hats as he teaches history and education at Liberty University and serves as a missionary in Ecuador. At the heart of it all is a passion for seeing other people get to know Jesus as Savior and friend.
Jones first fell in love with the country of Ecuador when he joined his father on a mission trip in the early 90s. In the following years, he returned each summer to South America. He planned to remain in the United States to pursue teaching but eventually felt that God wanted him to stay in Ecuador instead.
“It’s like I tell my students. When God lays something on your mind, your heart and your discerning gut … and it stands the test of time, it’s probably of the Lord. Well, (in) the coming year, I couldn’t shake the call,” Jones said.
Upon graduating with his master’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1998, Jones moved to Ecuador not knowing Spanish or what exactly God wanted him to do ministerially. He simply asked God to give him wisdom. Then, God answered. A position promptly opened at an American-accredited international institution called the Alliance Academy, where he would remain for the next 14 years.
God provided Jones with a vocation built for change, but that is not all God provided. Jones met his wife, Rashael, in Ecuador, and they soon had a daughter and a son. His wife as well as his new mother-in-law were instrumental in teaching him Spanish, and both he and his wife became close with one another’s families. The couple also began assisting with ministry at her church before eventually planting and growing one of their own.
“The Lord led us with like-minded Ecuadorians down there to launch a brand-new church that very quickly mushroomed to a couple thousand of parishioners,” Jones said. “One of the biggest in the country, and to God be the glory.”
But God kept opening up doors. Jones was asked to teach through Liberty University Online, and nearly 11 years ago, a residential position opened up, upon which he returned to the United States. He and his family now live in Lynchburg during the academic year, where he shares his love for history with his students.
“I don’t know what excites me more — the content I’m about to teach, or the fact I’m about to teach it. I love teaching. I love my students,” Jones said.
Although he now primarily resides in his home state of Virginia, Jones still returns to Ecuador each summer to continue his ministry of 30-plus years there. He said that although some would consider it to be a Christian country, many individuals there are not familiar with having a personal, direct relationship with Jesus, something he said is at the center of both his mission work and teaching profession.
“As much as I want to … foster a good academic setting where students come away learning hopefully something new every day, in history or in education, that missionary heart stays in play,” Jones said. “If we really are not training Champions for Christ … we’re missing the boat. That is my ultimate heart of hearts: to see my students grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.”
Malanowski is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion