“Even though [Central Asia] is one of the least reached parts of the world, when we have people who learn the language, know the culture well, and are faithful in sharing the Gospel, we are seeing that people are coming to Christ and churches are being planted,” said Winfield Scott,* an International Mission Board worker, during a Global Missions Week emphasis at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sept. 15-18.
The weeklong missions focus was the first of two special emphases to be hosted by the World Missions Center this semester. This first event featured IMB personnel who invited Southwestern Seminary students to be a part of what God is doing to reach the people of Central Asia. Daily events provided students with the opportunity to hear testimonies from the mission field, talk with IMB workers one-on-one, and learn how they can participate in short-term and long-term work.
Both in-person and virtual options were available for some events to accommodate COVID-19 concerns. All in-person events required masks and social distancing.
During the Going Global lunch, Sept. 15, IMB leaders shared their vision for mission work, as well as specific opportunities for students.
Dillon Wray,* a strategist for the region, explained that there are always opportunities for students or people ages 18-29 to be a part of what God is doing. Although people of all ages and seasons of life are valuable to the work there, Wray said young people perform an essential role to reaching Central Asia.
“We invite students into this work not because we’re looking to give you something fun to do over the course of your summer or a semester,” Wray said. “We’re inviting you into this work because we need your help.”
Wray said they often pray for more workers, and they believe students are an answer to that prayer.
“Students allow us to multiply our efforts immediately once they get on the ground,” Wray said. “We can send teams of students into areas that we ourselves, as longtime workers, can’t go. You are able to go into places that we can’t and meet people that we can’t in order to share the Gospel of Christ.”
During a women’s panel discussion later in the week, Southwestern Seminary women were able to hear about life, ministry, and work as a woman in Central Asia.
Responding to an audience question about finding purpose and a place in ministry, the women discussed how God is uniquely using women for Kingdom work. Despite the cultural challenges, said Lori Scott,* women have an essential ministry in getting the Gospel to Central Asian people.
“We work really hard on training our women to know their role in the church planting process,” Scott said. “We’re trying to do training so women feel a part of the church planting team. They’re not just single women babysitting the kids, or married women only staying at home to keep the kids, but they are actually a part of the church planting process. We’re trying to be more intentional and make sure every woman feels she has a vital role to play.”
Even in a Central Asian and Muslim culture, Scott added, there are numerous ways for women to be involved in the work depending on setting and one’s season of life. She explained that in any context, understanding the culture is essential to effectively sharing the Gospel.
“Even though we are living in a Muslim culture and we may feel ostracized,” Scott said, “I always tell women that we are the ones who are going to be sitting around the table drinking tea with Muslim women. Our men are not going to be there; it’s going to be us.”
In addition to larger sessions, the remainder of the week included webinars and meetings for students to explore their own call to missions. For Southwestern Students, the World Missions Center is an essential resource for exploring such a calling. Its team is equipped with the knowledge and resources to help students take their next step.
“At the World Missions Center, we are here to connect everyone at Southwestern Seminary with the role they have to play in obeying the Great Commission,” said Sam Brittain, associate director of the WMC.
The next Global Missions Week will take place Oct. 12-16 and will focus on South Asia. Students will have the opportunity to hear from missionaries to the region, learn about the people of South Asia, and explore missions opportunities in the area.
For information or inquiries, email email@example.com.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.