Missionaries who have served around the globe came to campus last week to share stories of their work and their lives during the annual Missions Emphasis Week.
The event kicked off Oct. 22 with a concert in the SUB to raise awareness for human trafficking, a first for MEW.
Steering committee member junior elementary education major Ellen Logan said it was a great way to start the week, by highlighting an issue that students are becoming passionate about.
“I really feel on this campus there is this intense fire for bringing awareness to human trafficking, and I think it’s really cool that our school has something that we want to take a stand against because I think that’s important,” she said. “It was really well received, and I think the people that were there really enjoyed it. And it was nice having something a little bit different than what we normally do.”
Throughout the week, missionaries led events on campus and held seminars discussing different aspects of missions.
A Global Runway fashion show displayed dozens of traditional garments worn by women from all over the world. As each model walked around the room, the audience heard about the origins of the outfits, as well as the culture and lifestyle of the women from the countries where they came from.
Senior social work major Kristen Kimmell said it was a new experience for her, and she enjoyed the focus on international women.
“I loved seeing all of the cultures represented. And I really liked that they told a story about all of them to make it more personal,” she said.
Wycliffe Bible translator Mike Cahill conducted a language simulation called the Tonsil-Whaka Tribal Experience. Students split into two groups, one representing a foreign tribe, the other representing American Bible translators.
The tribal group was given words in their language to speak, as well as different customs to express as the Americans tried to communicate with them. The activity highlighted the difficulties and miscommunications that take place when attempting to translate a language.
Cahill said, “There were elements of the simulation that were very realistic. Culture and languages are so different that you can offend someone five times and be unaware of it. Some elements like that show you the differences from American culture.”
Each day, missions fairs were held to give students the opportunity to learn about a multitude of organizations.
“That for me is the most beneficial time because you can choose to stand at a booth for an hour and talk to the same people, or just go for five minutes at each booth,” Kimmell said. “It’s just really cool to see that there are people representing everywhere, the states, Europe, Asia, Africa, and it covers every base, whether you want to work with Bible translators or recreation for kids.”
Missionaries also spent time throughout the week sharing their stories with classes and individuals. Hamid Khoshbijari served in Turkey for several years after becoming a Christian because of two missionaries he met there.
Khoshbijari found himself in the country after being forced to leave his home and everything he had known in Iran. He was introduced to a missionary couple and began helping them with communicating in their ministry.
Through their friendship in the most difficult time of Khoshbijari’s life, he began to follow Christ.
“One thing really attracted my attention, and it was the way that this guy was living his life,” he said. “It was not what he was talking about, what he was preaching. The thing that had a great impact on my life, on my decision was the way he was living, the faith that he had, the love he was projecting.”
Khoshbijari stressed the importance of going out to love and serve others, and though he did not want to stay in Turkey, he felt a calling to work there.
“God told me,” he said, “‘If you want to serve me, you should forget yourself. You should forget your problems and serve these people because each one of them you see, they are me.’”
Logan thinks that the week was beneficial to all involved, and that having the missionaries on campus has been uplifting.
She said, “It’s been really encouraging to hear what God’s doing around the world. That’s one of the main things about this whole week. Yes, it’s to get the kick in the pants to see what needs doing, but also to see what God is doing … to show that there is hope in this dark world.”