MEW welcomes nations to campus
Whether it’s in the states or overseas, many UMHB students spend their free time serving in missions. Perhaps it’s because of the willingness to go that the university tries to promote such travels.
Missions Emphasis Week is an annual event because of the school’s history with and love for ministry. This year, 42 missionaries flooded the campus Oct. 24-28, offering insight into the areas where they serve.
Co-director of this year’s Missions Emphasis Week junior psychology major Jessica Rivas worked for months to prepare for the event. Because missions are important to her personally, she was deeply invested in the planning and execution of the week.
“I can think of no better way to spend my life than to do what Jesus asked me to do by going to all the nations, or at least starting here, and making disciples through sharing about God restoring our relationship with himself through Christ,” Rivas said.
Her passion for sharing Christ’s hope with the nations is something she thinks everyone can gain through participating in MEW.
Rivas said, “Every year, I have seen the campus culture change the week of and week after. … The campus needs this sweet reminder to stop sitting and absorbing all the information we can about scripture and start applying it daily.”
Though the missionaries were on campus for only a few short days, their presence was obvious. They spoke in 71 classrooms, 28 seminars, 12 organizational meetings and participated in five larger evening events.
Assistant Director for the Baptist Student Ministry Jena Coulson was one of the two staff members in charge of the event. She and Director of the BSM Shawn Shannon oversaw the week, which was led by the 35 students serving on the steering committee.
Coulson wanted students’ perceptions of missions to be changed and clarified with this year’s Missions Emphasis Week.
“To be a missionary you don’t have to have a calling to a certain people group,” Coulson said. “Being a missionary is living missionally where you’re at. I think that concept is new for some people.”
One of the goals of the event was to engage students who have never considered missions before and to introduce them to what that life would look like.
Coulson enjoyed seeing students meet with missionaries and start to understand that they can live missionally where they are.
She said, “It helps students understand missions is more than a word. It’s a lifestyle, which means you strive to do that every day. And you can engage the people around you. You don’t have to go far away.”
Another aspect of MEW is to provide connections and opportunities for students interested in missions.
“We don’t bring an agency in that doesn’t do college missions. So we hope that during the time the students are here that they will connect with an agency that we bring in on campus and then go,” Coulson said.
MEW is an event close to Coulson’s heart, as she has been a part of the week for the past seven years and learns something new each year.
“When I was a student, I went to MEW for extra credit for Dr. Lutherback. I really wasn’t concerned about missions or anything but getting points for my test grade. I left that week feeling called to missions,” she said.
The idea of living intentionally wherever you are at was a big theme for MEW this year and was something that the missionaries discussed in the seminars they led.
Mark Cox serves with his wife Alice in East Asia and encouraged students to let God use them no matter what stage they are at in life.
“God’s going to use you wherever you are at. And you need to realize that. It’s not something that’s going to happen later,” he said.
Craig Owen serves in East Asia and led a seminar on recognizing a call to missions. He thinks that serving the Lord in a missional way is not an option.
It’s a responsibility for every Christian and looks different for each individual.
He said, “We need to pursue this call. We all want to be fruitful for the King. Every Christian needs to have this conversation with God: Lord, where would you have me to serve?”
Rivas hopes that after a week of missionaries pouring into students on this campus, students’ hearts will begin to change and they will be more willing to pursue missions in some way.
“I hope for connections to be made for the kingdom,” she said. “What I mean is students making connections with God, agencies or missionaries they can join on the field, and other students to share the message of Christ.”