When you ask Dr. Don Fanning whether this generation of students is going to reach the world in unprecedented ways, the 30-year missionary veteran and Executive Director of Liberty’s Center for Global Engagement doesn’t wince. He gives an emphatic “yes,” and begins to tell you why.
Perhaps, never before in Christian history has the completion of the Great Commission been more achievable than it is today. The students being trained at Liberty University today are “digital natives” whose social media conversations easily cross the international dateline. They’ve also done their share of globetrotting on short-term missions, and they’re fed up with Christians who don’t practice what they preach.
|Graduate student Julie Stillwagon traveled with a Liberty team to Rwanda in November 2011 to aid genocide victims.|
So, they show up by the thousands to support the causes that are dear to them, and no one has to ask them to put their hands and feet where their hearts are. Already this year, Liberty students have, on their own initiative, provided nearly a million meals to Somalian refugees, served widows and their children in genocide-torn Rwanda, taught English in the vestiges of Asian Communism, raised money to drill wells in impoverished villages around the world and have taken the Gospel directly into the heart of some of Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism’s holiest cities.
They are running headlong into the least-reached places with the message of Jesus in one hand and the compassion of Jesus in the other. Later this year, students will be doing so among college students in Malaysia and Slovenia, with war-affected men and women in Bosnia and Kosovo, among villagers on the banks of the Amazon River, via sports clinics in Ethiopia and even among refugees in the Middle East.
“The goal of Liberty’s Center for Global Engagement is to accelerate the completion of the Great Commission,” says Fanning. “We want to channel all the passion for mission that saturates Liberty’s student body into the most strategic places around the world while also offering a world-class degree program that effectively prepares another generation of missionaries.”
Liberty University’s Center for Global Engagement plans to do everything they can “to reach the world in this generation” and especially so through an innovative and newly revised curriculum that will be launching this year.
The Global Studies degree program, which was previously deemed Intercultural Studies, will now provide special training to students who intend on living as Christians in different cultures while also maintaining a secular occupation.
|Liberty students work at a camp for orphaned children in the Middle East last year.|
The program, which will encourage a double major or minor in an “occupational skill” (like business, education, teaching English as a second language or nursing) will equip Liberty University alumni to live and work in the heart of the world’s least reached places.
Like the Apostle Paul, who often made tents for a living, these Liberty graduates will be able to go to places and reach people who have been typically inaccessible to traditional missionaries, and do it without being tethered to financial supporters in their home country.
“This new method of training isn’t in lieu of traditional faith missions, but in addition to it. We are now also intentionally preparing a generation of tentmakers,” says Fanning.
Fanning, who served as a jungle pilot in Colombia, a Bible School dean in Argentina, and a publisher in Paraguay, suspects that “God might be up to something remarkable.”
“The parts of the world that remain unreached with the Gospel are largely closed to traditional missionaries, but they are clamoring for English teachers and entrepreneurs, nurses, and computer engineers. Could it be that God has raised up the world’s largest Christian university at just the perfect moment in history to meet this need and, in so doing, to change the world?”
Liberty’s Center for Global Engagement believes so and is fast at work to eradicate the word “unreached” from the Christian vocabulary.