MEW with Shane & Shane, prayer and inspiration
By Jillian Steen
The annual Missions Emphasis Week each fall at UMHB allows student participation and the opportunity to hear from missionaries about their work and experiences locally and around the world. Students get to listen for their possible calling in missions and take steps towards incorporating a missions mindset into their everyday life.
This year’s theme was “Reaching the Unreached.” The graphics read “Un-reached” with the letters “Un” being crossed out. This symbolized the goal that the MEW committee wanted to communicate, according to sophomore Christian studies major Ruth Lawson, one of the directors for MEW 2020. The inspiration comes from Isaiah 49:6, which states:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Lawson said that the message pertains very widely to people right here in our vicinity as well as to people who may be in remote places around the globe.
“The unreached in the theme does not only represent the people that have never heard the gospel on this earth,” Lawson said. “There are many people now because of COVID that feel unreached and we wanted to hit on that too.”
The week traditionally is scheduled with events and seminars where approximately 50 missionaries are able to engage with students in fellowship and conversations that often explain what it takes to be involved in missions. However, this year, in order to maintain safety, missionaries were not allowed onto campus so the missions committee tied together several events for the week: a Shane & Shane concert, a visit at chapel by missions pastor René Maciel, a Market Night on King Street, and a time of reflection called “Slow Down.”
Mid-week had René Maciel, the missions pastor of First Woodway Baptist Chruch in Waco, speaking at Walton Chapel. There he talked about “living missionally” every day.
To emphasize prayer with Slow Down, students got involved by coming to the Quad on-campus between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to spend time in the Lord’s presence and reflect. This event was inspired by the resting incorporated into daily schedules in other cultures that are typically less hurried than Americans’ schedules. This challenged students to slow down and listen to the Lord’s voice.
Market Night was designed to give students running the tables the opportunity to learn and then teach the cultural experiences to any participants. With social distancing in mind, there were nine tables run by committee members and volunteers that were set up on King Street. Their tables represented different countries with cultural-appropriate foods and symbols. Out of the nine tables, seven of them were represented countries that the university’s Global Outreach is planning mission trips to in the future.
Because of the intentionality of these events and the week as a whole, the MEW committee created an atmosphere where students like Grace Ivie, a junior nursing major, found the opportunity to spend her summer overseas with a missions program.
“MEW gave me a greater desire to commit my summer to pursue a passion that the Lord has put on my heart,” Ivie said.
According to Jason Palmer, the Dean of Spiritual Life and University Chaplain, MEW offers an opportunity to expand one’s ideas about future involvement in missions.
“[MEW] impacts students by enhancing their awareness of global partnership opportunities and their appreciation for the work of long and short-term missions,” Palmer said.