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Parade of Nations kicks off week of global awareness events

Twice a year, Liberty University’s international students participate in a special Parade of Nations in Convocation to kick off the start of  Global Focus Week, which is aimed at raising global awareness among students, faculty, and staff through special events and guest speakers.

A sea of colorful flags descended down the concourse of the Vines Center on Monday as students represented their home nations and the Liberty Worship Collective played “How Great is Our God.”

Liberty has close to 800 international students.

The flag parade was just one of the global-minded elements of Convocation. Worship songs were not only sung in English, but in Spanish, Romanian, and Yoruba. Several students read Psalm 86:9 in their native languages.

Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser sat down with four Liberty students, whose parents are missionaries, to talk with them about their experiences and how they want to continue the mission of impacting the nations of the world for Christ.

Liberty has more than 200 students who come from missionary backgrounds.

Siblings Joey and Joanna Bantseev, whose family is based in Siberia with Teen Challenge, shared how each year their bus ministry provides free rides to the people of Russia during the holiday season and uses that time to share the Gospel.

“Many times when we share the Gospel with the people of Russia, it’s the very first time they hear it,” Joanna Bantseev said. “It is a Christian country. The main religion is Russian Orthodox, but it’s all about rituals and traditions. A lot of people do not know the Gospel. They’ve heard about Jesus, but they don’t know if they’re going to heaven or not.”

Junior Lauren Clines talked about her family’s work in Panama with the International Mission Board. Her mother works as a physician and has traveled on many medical outreach trips as a translator.

“Because of medical ministry, there’s a high need for medicine and an even higher need for the Gospel,” said Clines. “(Medicine) just opens a lot of doors.”

Sophomore Braxton Todd said his family did not start out as missionaries, but after his parents went on a two-week mission trip to Haiti, they felt called to sell all their belongings and leave their home in Minnesota to serve Haitians.

“Now, almost six years later, we have a discipleship program where more than 1,000 kids come a week to get fed and (hear about) Jesus,” Todd said. “It’s nothing we could have done, but because we said yes, God did it through us.”

After each panel member told a bit of their story, Joey Bantseev thanked Liberty’s leaders for supporting missionary students and their families.

“We had a dream to go to a university to get an education and then go back to our home countries,” he said. “We’re just so grateful for this opportunity.”

Joanna Bantseev added that the support of their fellow students has also made an impact on their lives.

“All the missionary kids here are studying something that we can use to go out and share the Gospel,” Joanna Bantseev told her classmates. “We couldn’t do it without you.”

At the end of Convocation, Nasser asked all students in the Vines Center who were children of missionaries to stand up so that the student body could pray for them and their families.

Students will gather again on Wednesday for a Global Focus Week Convocation featuring speakers Ravi Zacharias and Vance Pitman. Several special events will be happening throughout the week; many will be streamed live on Facebook. Visit www.Liberty.edu/LUServe for the full schedule.

Some of the week’s highlights include:

Monday, Feb. 19: G5 Rwanda: Global Refugee Response – LaHaye Event Space, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

Students will hear from a refugee from Rwanda and also learn about the current state of the worldwide refugee crisis and how Samaritan’s Purse is seeking to meet this global need. Through an interactive display, students can gain an understanding of holistic refugee care and discover how to get involved.

Tuesday, Feb. 20: Taste of Nations – Montview Alumni Ballroom, 8:30-10:30 p.m.

In partnership with the International Student Center, come experience a variety of tastes and sounds from around the world.

Wednesday, Feb. 21: Cultural Exposure: Rwanda – Food Court at Reber-Thomas, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Come experience the sounds and dance of the Rwandan culture and try some special tastings from the nation of Rwanda.

All week: Global Prayer Experience – Freedom Tower Observational Deck, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Come experience this self-guided opportunity to learn about those serving around the globe. Be encouraged, learn what others are doing, and take time to pray and reflect in the new Freedom Tower.