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‘Imagine what God would do’

Students challenged at World Mission Workshop to pray — and plan — to spread gospel globally.

HENDERSON, Tenn. — Matt Cook attended the World Mission Workshop in 2001 “because it was here.”
Cook, then a student at Freed-Hardeman University, had no intention of becoming a full-time missionary. But after hearing speakers and attending classes at the workshop — which hops annually from campus to campus associated with Churches of Christ — he found himself inspired and energized about spreading the Gospel globally.
Eight years later, when the workshop returned to Freed-Hardeman, Cook spoke to 350 mission-minded students about following Christ — less than 48 hours before he boarded a plane for Cusco, Peru.

Cook and his wife, Charla, along with Barton and Allison Kizer and Gary and Jennifer Reaves, have committed five years of service to the South American city.
“Will you let this weekend at least … open the possibility of cross-cultural ministry?” Cook asked workshop attendees.
Opportunities for ministry abound — at home and abroad, said keynoter Willie Franklin, who works with campus and singles ministries in north Texas.
Franklin became a Christian in 1973, while playing in the National Football League. He attended Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and he and his wife served as missionaries in Papua New Guinea.
But Franklin, who speaks to churches around the country, believes that “the world, period, is a mission field.” He makes a point to meet — and kiss — 20 men each day and tell them about Jesus.
“Whenever I go to Wal-Mart, my wife knows I can be five minutes or five hours, because I don’t go just to get groceries,” Franklin said.
That message resonated with Ethan Kirl, a senior at Ohio Valley University
in Vienna, W.Va.
“I have no plans of being a full-time missionary,” Kirl said, “but still I will be a full-time missionary in the sense that I’ve got to continue to live my life as a disciple of Christ. Hopefully, that example will rub off on somebody.”
Even short-term missionaries can help transform lives around the globe, said Jack Farber, who leads medical and evangelistic campaigns for Latin American Missions, a ministry of the Forrest Park Church of Christ in Valdosta, Ga.
To emphasize the need, Farber subtracted global estimates for births and deaths, showing that the world’s population expands by more than 218,000 people each day.
“Every 24 hours a city the size of Montgomery, Ala., … just springs up overnight,” he said.
In his trips to Latin America, Farber has seen that the region is full of people willing to listen to the gospel message.
Short-term missionaries can make more than a short-term impact, he said.
Increasingly, students who make mission trips reconnect with the souls they encounter on the field through social networking Web sites including Facebook.
Thinking back to 2001, Cook said he’s sure many students were inspired, just as he was, by the previous World Mission Workshop at Freed-Hardeman. But today, most are “probably not doing what they were excited about eight years ago,” he said.
His team spent years preparing for its church-planting mission in Peru, including a six-month internship with Abilene, Texas-based Continent of Great Cities.
“The timing will never be right to pack up all your stuff and go to another country,” he warned students at the 2009 workshop. “Life will happen. You’ll get really comfortable.”
He encouraged the students to make plans now for their own mission — whether it’s across an ocean or across the street.
“Imagine if, eight to 10 years from now, every person in here that was interested in missions was in the field,” he said. “Imagine what God would do.”

Filed under: National

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