Jordan Baun, Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism (CGO)
The question that I have been asked probably more than any other in the last three years of my life is, “Where are you from?” That is one of the hardest questions for me to answer. I was born in Buffalo, NY (Go Bills!), but I haven't lived there since I was twelve. In fact, by the age of four, I had lived in three different countries. My parents moved us first to Quebec to learn French, and then to Togo to be missionaries. After returning to Buffalo, the Lord directed my dad into Christian education. The summer before my freshmen year of high school my dad accepted an administrative position in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. I would graduate from that school, but once again, during my junior year of college here at Bob Jones, my parents moved to Anderson, South Carolina. Now, my parents live in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
I haven't lived in my parents’ house for any considerable amount of time since high school, but when people ask, “Where’s home?” I have no idea what to tell them. Surely, they aren’t looking for that lengthy answer. After all, they asked for my home, not my biography. So, what is my life story? It can’t be a simple answer of locations. However, as I think of myself as the man without a home, I am reminded of how Jesus viewed people, “like sheep without a shepherd.” My life story relates well to the analogy of sheep. Often, I have wandered and felt the Good Shepherd’s loving and corrective rod and staff guiding me back to the path he has set for me to follow.
Most of you reading this have probably grown up in a Christian family and a Bible-believing church. But following Jesus is not always the popular or even acceptable thing to do. Perhaps this is how the waters of true Christianity have become so muddied in our society with its religious freedom. In a culture that is hostile towards Jesus, Christians don't follow out of convenience. Such was the case 2,000 years ago when John recalls Jesus claim, "I Am the Good Shepherd."
There was much division over what to believe about Jesus, and many of the Jews were ready to convict Jesus of blasphemy and be done with him that very day. It was in this context that Jesus says some of the most assuring words for true disciples. In John 10:27-28 reads, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Unfortunately, many times we are tempted to speed past verse 27 to get to verse 28. The incredible promise of verse 28 only applies to the sheep of verse 27. If we would have Jesus hold us in the palm of his hand, we must first follow him.
I'm afraid there are many who claim the title of Christian that believe they can come to an intersection and collide with the Good Shepherd and then turn and pursue the path of their careers and dreams never to follow the Good Shepherd down the way he leads. True followers of Jesus Christ are sheep that turn from their path to follow Jesus down the path he leads. This means Christ’s mission becomes your mission. Christ's path becomes your path. Christ’s cross becomes your cross (Gal. 2:20). Christ’s last command was to make disciples of all nations and to teach them to observe everything Jesus had commanded them. It is every disciple's mission to carry this out. Whether you are a businessman in New York, a farmer in Nebraska, a church planter in California, or a college student in Greenville, God has called you to reach beyond yourself to make disciples and to teach them to obey the commands of Christ.
That is what it looks like to follow Jesus and to hear him say “I know them.” An interaction with Jesus does not necessarily equal eternal life. Look at the crowd in John 6. One day they were eating miracle fish and bread, and the next day they turned around never to follow Jesus again. True followers of Christ are disciples that have taken up their cross. To take up our cross means to pursue our God-given mission to make disciples no matter the cost. We’ve heard the voice of the Great Shepherd. He knows all his sheep by name. Each one of us must decide to follow Christ today. Yes, some will probably pass through the valley of the shadow of death, but Christ is with each one of his sheep. Therefore, we follow on, making Christ's mission our pursuit. Those are the sheep that Christ says, "I give them eternal life."
Kendra Schmidt, Senior Health Sciences Major
I have had the opportunity to get involved with Go Greenville for the past two years, specifically with the Worldview Survey. This outreach partners with local churches and conducts a Worldview Survey of the community surrounding the church. We go door to door in groups of two or three and ask participants questions regarding their religious beliefs. The goal of this survey is to share the Gospel and to point people to Jesus Christ! There are many benefits to going on this outreach; some include growth in interpersonal skills, skills in starting up conversations, directing conversations to God and the Gospel, growing in areas of your personal walk with God, having areas in your life that you struggle in pointed out… and so much more. I could go into detail with all these benefits and include many more ways on how I have seen my life and understanding of the Gospel change through them, but instead I am going to share two specific stories from two conversations which were results of this outreach.
First, my group and I had a conversation with a Muslim man that turned into him calling his whole family to come out and talk to us about the Muslim beliefs. We talked back and forth for an hour about a few of the differences between Christianity and Islam. We pointed them to Scripture and showed them verses that disprove what they were saying. Unfortunately, they would still come back with another argument/contradiction. Although no one got saved at the end of the conversation, a seed was planted, questions were left in their minds (and my mind), and one guy in the group was able to get this man’s contact information and has further met up with him and talked to him about the Gospel and Jesus Christ. I left this conversation wanting to learn more about the difference between Christianity and Islam. I left wanting to study more about how to be effective in approaching people who have arguments and questions that contradict my faith. God has used this experience to grow me in my desire to reach Muslims.
Second, I was able to see God’s Sovereignty very specifically played out as my group talked to this older gentleman. We only got to the first question on the survey, but with that one question we heard a 10-minute salvation story! To share very briefly, this man grew up in a Catholic environment. He was an altar boy and a choir boy. He went to church every Sunday and was in the Catholic school throughout the week. In college, he ended up going to school in Hawaii. At this point in his life, he didn’t go to church. After he graduated and started working, one of his female colleagues began talking to him every day about Jesus. He would want to party-it-up and she would want to do a Bible Study. She never stopped trying to share the Gospel with him, and eventually he started going to church due to the death of a mutual friend of theirs. Through this tragedy and trial, he got saved. He continued to share with us the struggles he has faced since salvation. This man’s testimony was amazing, but it didn’t end there. He shared with us that this past May, his colleague and friend from Hawaii was in Charleston and they were able to catch up and share how God has worked in their lives over the past 40 years of not seeing each other. As he was sharing his story, I was convicted about the many times I don’t trust God in small aspects of life. At the end of his story, I was convinced that my God is Sovereign in all circumstances. His colleague had no clue how much she impacted his life as a Christian until over 40 years later. This conversation, like many others I have had, encouraged me to trust God in the unknown and seek His will no matter how hard or difficult my circumstances might be.
In conclusion, and as I have said before, the benefits of outreaches are innumerable. Whether you hear a salvation story or see God use you to plant a seed in someone’s life, you will grow as you get involved in an outreach!
Pastor Steven Huffman, Outreach Pastor at Morningside Baptist Church (Greenville,SC)
I grew up in the state of Georgia and one of our claims to fame was being the home state of former President Jimmy Carter. In his book, Why Not the Best?, he recounts the story of preparing to speak to a church group on the subject of witnessing. He was recalling his efforts with his local Plains Baptist Church and the fact that he had made over 140 visits over a span of 14 years for a special outreach campaign his church had each year. He was rather proud of himself. But then he was challenged by the fact that in his 1966 run for Governor of Georgia he had made at least 300,000 contacts in 3 months just to win the people’s vote for the governorship. Like President Carter, we need to come face to face with the reality that our work for Christ so often pales in comparison to our efforts for things that really do not matter for eternity.
The Center for Global Opportunities is taking the beginning of this school year to challenge BJU students to focus on what really matters. Of course, there are many activities, classes, work, and friendships that demand the time of college students. You may feel that you are so busy that you cannot possibly add one more thing to your schedule. We all know that we each have the same amount of time, but it is up to us how we steward that time for the Lord. My dad has a thought-provoking challenge when you listen to the voicemail message on his home phone. “Remember, today is your gift from God, unwrap it wisely.” As you are training for your chosen profession at a Christian liberal arts college, let me encourage you to remember the importance of the Lord’s work and His local church. Make every day of your college career count for God and what really matters.
As the Outreach Pastor at Morningside Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, we appreciate the opportunity to partner with the CGO to reach our community for Christ. Last year, for 4 Saturdays in September, our Morningsiders combined with BJU college students to conduct a worldview survey as a means of opening the door for the gospel. We appreciate the students who participated. They spent part of their weekends focused on making a difference in people’s lives. I personally had the opportunity to participate and talk with a lady just one block from the church who obviously did not know the Lord as her personal Savior. Even with so many churches here in Greenville, there are people who still need the Lord. Praise the Lord; one of our men was able to lead 3 people to a profession of faith in Christ last year during the Go Greenville campaign.
At Morningside, we are about Reaching Out with the gospel, not only around the world but also right here in Greenville. We would love to partner with more BJU students for outreach efforts. Once again, this September we are devoting some time on two Saturdays (9/8 & 9/15 from 1-3 PM) to share the gospel in a neighborhood near our church on Pelham Road by conducting a worldview survey. Would you be willing to take some time to focus on what really matters: people in need of the good news of Jesus Christ?
The reality is that Morningside could use your help this school year to reach out to Greenville. We could use your help with our weekly visitation program on Wednesday nights. You could work in our Good News Club on Tuesday afternoons, sharing the gospel with students from the public school next door to our church. You could also help us reach the next generation for Christ by working in our Kids on Mission on Wednesday nights from 6:45 - 8:00.
In October, we will be doing outreach events with the Aaron Coffey evangelistic team. On Monday, 10/15, we will have a Men’s Steak Out and Cornhole tournament. On Tuesday, 10/16, our ladies will have a Chocolate Cafe. And on Wednesday, 10/17, the teens will have a teen rally. All of these events will hopefully help us reach out with the gospel to the unsaved and unchurched by using creative methods.
On Halloween night, we will be treating our community to a free and family-friendly Fall Carnival, complete with carnival games, a hot dog dinner, and trunk-or-treat for the kids.
There are multiple ways you can partner with a local church to reach Greenville for Christ. If we can help you focus on what really matters this school year, let’s talk (email@example.com). I can meet you on campus or just talk over the phone (864-297-7890). I hope to hear from you soon.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.