–James Osborne, News Editor
The week of Nov. 3-7 was “Go Week” on the Mississippi College campus. “Go” stands for Global Opportunities. Go Week is sponsored by the office of Christian Development led by Eric Pratt. The goal was to encourage students to learn about and volunteer for mission work around the world.
Representatives from 16 different local churches, ministries, agencies, missionary organizations, and summer camps were on hand in the Caf during lunch to hand out information and inform students of serving opportunities. Representatives, or “mobilizers,” from these organizations also spoke to campus ministry groups, and chapel messages were held that centered on the need for serving in mission work. The office of Christian Development had 60 to 70 students wear “Go Week” T-shirts on Tuesday and Thursday, and a campus wide email was sent out telling students to ask those wearing the T-shirts about their mission work experience. Students handed out cookies and told students about local churches with mission opportunities. And on Thursday night, over 100 people came together on campus for s’mores on the quad and to discuss missions with fellow students and mobilizers.
“This year our goal was to bring awareness of mission opportunities to students, and really mobilize them in different ways,” said Beth Masters, associate director of Christian development. “I think it’s been a great week.”
The logo for this year’s Go Week was the picture of a name tag with the words “Hello my name is…” and many different titles around the name tag and the word “Missionary” in bold. Masters and Pratt said that they wanted to re-establish the idea that anyone and everyone can be a missionary and is a missionary in some way. “We wanted to re-establish the idea. We believe that all followers of Christ are actually missionaries wherever they are in some way,” said Pratt. “Too often we think that to be a missionary we have to go someplace, and yes that is part of what Go Week is about. But global means everyplace- in your dorm room, where you work, or in the classroom, wherever.”
“The response from college pastors, different churches, BSU, FCA, and RUF has been that it has really provided a platform to say “Hey, here are your opportunities to serve, not only abroad, but here,” said Pratt. “You have a four-year window as a college student to make a difference here, and after that you may not have the same influence that you do now.” Pratt said that it is easy to get caught up in the need for working toward a degree and preparing ourselves for something after school, but it is easy to forget that we can do something now. “You are actually called to do something right here, and right now,” said Pratt, “that’s why campus ministers are here, as missionaries, to help people grow in Christ.”
Masters said that one way students can act as missionaries is to reach out to international students. Students on campus don’t have to go to the nations when the nations have been brought to them.
“That idea of living on mission,” said Masters, “means that if we are living on mission, then everything we are doing is missions. We are building relationships and sharing the cause of Christ and living missionally.” Masters said that this is why they chose the logo they did, to show that anyone can be a missionary in some way.
“I think a better question than ‘Why be a missionary?’ is ‘Why get out of your comfort zone to befriend people, love people, and talk about God’s saving grace with them’ because that’s what a ‘missionary’ is,” said Varina Hart, a senior public relations major. “It’s purposely doing life with others. It’s driving a few miles to the hood in Jackson to get involved in some teenager’s life who lives in a broken family. It’s walking down a dirty, nasty road in Africa to go to a friend’s house, even though you’re already exhausted from the day. Or it’s kayaking with a bunch of adventure junkies and speaking grace into their lives around the campfire. But the answer to that ‘Why get out of your comfort zone?’ is that Jesus’ one great master work was to forget himself and have compassion on the lost. He came to take away our burden of guilt and shame. He removed forever God’s wrath that we deserve. That’s weighty. That’s freedom. And that’s worth getting out of my comfort zone to show someone that freedom. But no one ever said it would be easy. Ha! Hell no, it’s definitely not easy.”
Hart has lived an adventurous life as a missionary. She lived in the Bahamas for a few summers in high school and worked with teens there. She worked in Washington state at an Indian reservation, in a Hispanic community in Birmingham, in Uganda, South Sudan, and Spain. She is currently doing volunteer work in South Jackson and is in the process of trying to plan a trip to India.
Mission work is based on the scripture in Matt 28:16-23, also known as the great commission, where Christ tells the disciples to go to all nations and make disciples. Pratt said that the Greek wording means “as you go” about your life. “So, as you live your life, be intentional and make disciples of people. Sometimes we think of nations as geo-political boundaries, but it’s people groups,” said Pratt.
Pratt said that the office of Christian development works to bring people together for ministry, and he hopes that Go Week will be a catalyst for movement.