When Grace Zhen (Jr.) needed to leave China because the government was persecuting her family for being Christians, her mother turned to an American missionary couple for help. “They had a short conversation with my mom, and they started to look for a school for me after they came back to the U.S.” said Grace. “They helped me a lot in my life, and they are the greatest example of missionaries to me!”
For Grace and the other 175 international students marching in the Parade of Nations, the 2017 Campus Church Missions Conference meant more than just wearing traditional dress and carrying the flags of their 49 home countries. These students were a visual reminder to other Christians that the place they call home needs the light of Christ.
“I want to do my part, what God has planned for me to do,” said Grace. “Many people never hear the gospel in their lifetime. They never know who God is (like me, I didn't hear about the gospel until I went to Singapore when I was in middle school).”
Daniel Akpatsu (Sr.) shared Grace’s feelings. He said, “My father heard the gospel from a missionary growing up in the village in Ghana and that is how he got saved. I am thankful for that because through this missionary sowing a seed in my dad's life, my dad was able to spread the gospel to his family and pass it on to me.”
“Till the Whole World Knows,” the Conference’s theme, meant that these Christians would be sold out to God, sharing His love with everyone they meet in the United States and across continents.
Campus Church Coordinator Jason Young said, “It’s our prayer that we will see men, women, and children surrender their lives to serve the Lord through the testimony of the missionaries at this conference.”
With three dynamic missions-minded speakers, the conference touched on three major areas of missions: Bible translation, church planting, and medical outreach. Dr. Ken Fielder, general director and president of WorldView Ministries, opened the conference with a challenging message.
“This generation of Christians must reach this generation of lost people,” he said. “We must take on the task as though it must be finished before we die...We need a culture that will no longer endure the mundane.”
Dr. Jeremy Pittman, who planted churches in Uganda for 14 years, said, “We only get one chance to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we let God borrow our talents, He has a place for us to serve.”
Bradley Edmondson, executive director of Medical Missions Outreach, challenged students to slow down and care. “There are so many people just waiting for us to stop for a minute,” he said. “We need to say, ‘God use me in a way that lets the world see You in me.’ ”
Throughout the week, students had opportunities to get to know the sixteen guest missionaries and talk to the fourteen mission board representatives. Bob and Vicky Taylor from Heartland Baptist Missions said that “The highlight of coming was really talking to young people about missions—they came with a list of questions, a desire to serve, and a heart for missions.”
For the first time, the Missions Conference coincided with the Missionary Kids’ Dinner, a special event sponsored by the Overcomers, a Campus Church adult Bible study class. Each year, the families in the class host a potluck-style dinner, featuring many favorite dishes that PCC’s missionary kids (MKs) rarely get while in the States. The meal included homemade egg rolls and fried rice, fried plantains, lasagna, pork and sauerkraut, and a variety of other dishes.
During the evening, the students, Overcomers, and many of this year’s guest missionaries, enjoyed a time of food and fellowship and listened to a brief devotional shared by missionary Bill Smith.
Mark Goetsch, the teacher of the Overcomers class, said, “I believe this is a special opportunity to recognize and thank those MKs who are a part of our student body but also bring in missionaries and mission boards and bring it all together.”
After the meal, the MKs stood one by one sharing a little about the countries they called home. Dr. Brian Bucy, a member of the Overcomers class, said, “It was a blessing to hear how many of the MK's introduced themselves by giving their name and then saying, ‘My parents and I are missionaries.’ They realized it was their mission field and not just Mom and Dad's field.”
When the Conference came to a close, all were reminded to join the call to go out and preach the gospel until the whole world knows.