JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 22, 2009– The United States is no longer a free place for Christians to live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what 350 Union students were asked to pretend the night of Sept. 18.
The students silently lined the hallways leading to the Fred DeLay Gymnasium and waited for instructions to enter the gym. Once inside, they walked in the dark to one of 38 student leaders whose flashlight flickered until his or her group was full.
The groups listened to Scripture quietly quoted by their leader and then whispered prayers for two specific names of men overseas who are currently being persecuted for their faith and persistence to share the gospel.
After, the groups flooded the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel to freely sing praises to God and listen to Steve Booth, academic dean and professor of New Testament and Greek at Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
The event was called Missions Late Night and was organized by Campus Ministries as part of the annual campuswide Global Opportunities week to “make the Union community more aware of the global church and to make students aware of the costs of Christianity in other countries,” said Amy Getzen, Campus Ministries’ student mobilizer.
Booth started by asking the students to try to imagine being beaten, whipped, mocked and even killed for the truth of Christ. He then pointed out how many Christians don’t have to try imagining or pretending such persecution, because it has been so real.
“It didn’t make me scared,” said Courtney Allen, a sophomore social work major. “It just made me more confident about sharing the gospel here because, as of now, we are safe to share God’s word (in America).”
Sallie Duell, a junior nursing major, was a student leader who quoted Isaiah 63:1-3 for the event.
“As I shared the Scripture, I could tell the Lord was blessing the time,” Duell said. “I didn’t know everybody in my group, but everyone was listening and engaged.”
Upon entering the chapel after small groups, students read a slideshow with Scripture, quotes and recent stories of people being persecuted overseas.
Duell said when she was reading the stories, she saw one about the church being persecuted in East Asia. This particular story was especially meaningful since her brother and his family will be going to East Asia as professors next year.
“It became more real,” Duell said. “It’s something we don’t always think about.”
Getzen said the night exceeded expectations.
“I was overwhelmed by the Lord and the worship experience of the entire night,” she said.
By Megan Thompson ('12)