During its Summer Missions Focus, June 23-25, the World Missions Center (WMC) at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary led students in times of focused prayer for the nations and shared some of the opportunities for students to continue fulfilling the Great Commission, even while travel is restricted.
“God answers prayer,” says Brent Ray, director of the World Missions Center. “It’s really that simple. There are places where we cannot go, especially in this era of a global pandemic, but through prayer, we are still able to both practice obedience to the Great Commission and touch people around the world. Prayer, itself, changes nothing. But God answers prayer.”
During the weeklong focus, the WMC devoted time to three different affinity groups each day. The prayer times were facilitated by videos and prayer guides supplied by the International Mission Board. The affinity groups included the Americas, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Deaf, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Each video provided an overview of each affinity group, its culture, unique challenges for reaching them with the Gospel, and specific ways to pray for the people and for those who serve among them.
“The affinity-focused prayer times help inform us as we seek to obey the Great Commission, Ray says. “Praying for the lost or unreached around the world can feel overwhelming and hard to understand. We wanted to utilize the great resources the IMB has produced to help put a face to the people and places we are praying for.”
Ray adds that praying for peoples and places around the world “opens us up to consider if we are the workers God is sending into the harvest.”
“We want these prayer times to be opportunities for all Southwesterners to consider the part they have to play in making disciples of all nations, whether that’s going to people groups next door or around the world,” he says.
Students also had the opportunity to register and participate in disaster relief training with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, June 25. Through this ministry, students were trained and equipped to meet pressing needs and to share the hope of the Gospel with those impacted by disaster. Students who participated and completed the training became credentialed volunteers who will now be able to deploy with the SBTC Disaster Relief Ministry.
Beyond this weeklong focus, the WMC, led by Ray and Associate Director Sam Brittain, continues to serve and equip students in both their local and international missions efforts and to facilitate opportunities for students even during the coronavirus pandemic.
July 6-10, students will have the opportunity to participate in the first Virtual Mission Trip. Led by dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions John D. Massey, the trip is available for course credit, and will focus on reaching South Asia. Such virtual trips, Massey says, will provide the space and opportunity for students to learn about specific people groups.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions limit physical missions opportunities, Ray and Brittain say the WMC is always available by video call or email (email@example.com) to talk with students who are considering how they can engage the world. The WMC is also preparing for the fall 2020 semester, which will include more opportunities for students to learn about and participate in missions efforts.
Massey says, “We want to keep the Great Commission before students at all times, especially during the crises of today, lest we lose focus on the primary mission that God has given to the church, which is to make disciples of all nations. The Fish School and the WMC are the places on campus that help to fulfill Dr. Greenway’s big-tent vision, particularly, the Cooperation and Great Commission pillars. The sun never sets on Southwesterners because we continue to train and equip current and future generations of IMB missionaries for the Southern Baptist Convention.
“We want missions to become a part of the conversation in everyday life and are trying to give our campus and community the information they need to know about what the Lord is doing around the world so they can be inspired to join in what He is doing.”