Olivia Morud — a student volunteer who's helping organize the Global Missions Conference (GMC) — tells us what we can expect from this year's event. The GMC will be held on MU's campus February 18-20. All classes will be cancelled so students can attend event sessions.
The gnarly oak at the edge of the path is always the perfect place for the weary traveler. Here he can rest in an oasis of shade, drop his burden by the wayside and be refreshed beneath the leafy foliage. The image of a tree appears in the Bible several times as the representation of the righteous man, whose roots run deep into the heart of God. Justice flows from God's heart, and when a man draws his nourishment from this source, he becomes a shelter of mercy for a decaying world.
It's so easy to look to the hunger-stricken faces, or the pages that still need translation, or the whirlwind of duties that need accomplishing, before taking time to marvel at the Plan that has already been accomplished. The 74th annual Global Ministries Conference seeks to remind students that God is already working, and that it's his joy for them to join him in restoring his world to wholeness.
This conference has always fit well into the fabric of Multnomah’s mission. It provides an array of opportunities for mission work and encourages a readiness to serve. Students are given the chance to speak with missionaries and connect with agencies that interest them. And the abundance of workshops helps cultivate a global focus.
In the past, the GMC has been arranged by Intercultural Studies professors. But this year, a team of student leaders have been recruited to take charge. Dr. Greg Burch, Intercultural Studies Department Chair, is excited about this opportunity. "It empowers our students to develop in their leadership skills and to empower fellow students," he says. The responsibilities include planning the sessions, inviting speakers, reserving rooms and covering the conference in prayer.
My job has been the developing and planning of the logo, the decorations and the various communications. I can't say that I've done it perfectly, but I have certainly learned the intricacies of event-planning. It takes much more work than it seems. But in this case, it's completely worth it.
During the summer, a question was posted on the Multnomah Facebook page to glean the opinions of MU students regarding the GMC. The responses were very interesting, and our team has tried to implement the suggestions. For the most part, students feel that the GMC is beneficial because it spotlights missionaries who are otherwise invisible. It's a reminder that God is working behind the scenes. It's also encouraging to hear stories of God's faithfulness to ordinary people who decide to give him "even their very lives." Also, students appreciate being exposed to what's happening on the mission field (pros and cons) because it keeps them from being ignorant. "Ignorance isn't faithfulness," as one woman put it.
However, many students express that they feel intimidated, or even guilty, when attending GMC because they "don't feel called to the mission field." Because of this, the workshops seem to be a waste of time and can be stressful. Also, some feel that the missionaries speak as "Christian Superheroes," and don't emphasize their own weaknesses. These students would appreciate hearing from "real, broken people" who serve a powerful God. An equal balance of local and foreign missions would also be helpful. As I read these responses, I had to say that I completely agreed. I came across this verse the other day, though, and I would like to share it with you:
It's always thrilled me to hear stories of God's faithfulness to his children in the remotest parts of the earth, and it's always been my desire to be one of those who treads the mountaintops bringing his Gospel to those yearning for it. My heart breaks for the sufferers, and I dash forth in a frenzied passion, impatient to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. And then I read verses like this one. Blessed are all who wait for him. I'm reminded of the oak again: it's content to rustle in the gentle breezes. It's patient: growing steadily, slowly, serenely. I want to be like that oak. My God is a God of Justice — perfect justice! His heart isn't frenzied at the chaos of this world! He planned, before creation, to answer every desperate cry. We're commanded to meet the needs of our world...but only as an echo of his heartbeat. His passion isn't reckless. He has ages to work in, and time doesn't bother him.
I'm excited for this year's GMC, because I know that my heart will once again be nudged. And I pray that yours will be also. Quiet your heart to hear his voice, and be ready when he calls you. Because the deep, rich soil of his justice is fertile ground for you to spread your roots.
What are you most looking forward to about this year's GMC?
To learn more about this event, check out our GMC page.
Tags: 2014 global missions conference, 74th annual global missions conference, Dr. Greg Burch, global missions conference, GMC, GMC 2014, justice, mission opportunities, missionaries, MU, MU missions, Multnomah, Multnomah University