JACKSON, Tenn. – May 9, 2002– “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15.)
The call to missions – leaving family and friends behind, going into unfamiliar cities and countries, speaking an unfamiliar language – navigating an even more unfamiliar culture. More than 15 Union University graduates have recently answered that call with a commitment to full-time missionary service – eager to leave Union’s nurturing campus for a mission field somewhere out in the rough, jagged areas of our world.
In 1996, the university was only aware of one graduate going into missions, said Suzanne Mosley, director of student outreach. The sudden explosion of interest in fulltime mission work has come as a pleasant surprise to she and Todd Brady, minister to the university. What’s of even greater interest to them, however, is that the graduates going into missions have not been the traditional Christian studies major.
“A trend seems to be developing where more and more students are focusing on other majors to be used for missions,” said Mosley. These include social work, international business, management, biology, psychology, and Spanish. It appears Union students are focusing on more than just the biblical background to become a missionary and are determined to be resources in whatever country God has called them to minister, said Mosley.
“There is a push to go into restricted countries now and creative ways to get into the country are needed,” explained Mosley, who served as a journeyman to Egypt for two years before accepting her current position at Union. “Students must develop marketable skills and start thinking of missions differently in order to accomplish this.”
“Union played a large role in my involvement in missions,” said Rob Dixon, missionary to Romania and a 2001 Union graduate. “I began to see God's plan for the world as I studied at Union, participated in mission activities and took short-term trips through Campus Ministries.” It was on a short-term trip with a Union team to Egypt and Israel when Dixon first felt the call to missions.
Campus Ministries has been a key in encouraging students to enter ministry, yet the staff acknowledges that not everyone is called to be a missionary per se.
“It is important for students to realize that everyone must participate in God’s call to minister,” said Mosley. “Students need to rise up and help spread the gospel.” Each individual has a responsibility to be a witness for God even if they do not felt called to enter the field as a vocation.
“We’re not asking every student to be a missionary, but to understand that ministering is an integral part of every Christian’s life,” Brady explained.
GO Trips are one way for Union students to go on short-term mission trips and spread the gospel. These trips are designed, planned and organized by Campus Ministries.
“This year there were more GO Trips than ever before,” said Mosley. “This was the first year we had a January term trip and we have three summer trips scheduled.”
For Dixon, the GO Trips he participated on were life-changing.
“Go Trips were my first real involvement in missions,” said Dixon. “It was eye-opening to say the least. God showed me his power, protection, his creation, and his love.”
GO trips tend to lead missionaries to the field because most have never been on trips before, explained Mosley and Brady.
“You can talk about, strategize, and encourage missions all day but going is the way you get hooked,” said Dixon. Mosley and Brady understand this concept and say this is precisely why they are such strong advocates of GO Trips.
They also believe that what makes Union’s Office of Campus Ministries so distinguishable from other college campus ministries the partnership the office has with the university and other departments on campus.
“Other campus ministries aren’t seen as a component of the school whereas at Union we are,” said Brady.
“Campus Ministries encourages students to pray for missions, it brings missionaries to speak so students think about missions, and sends teams that enable students to participate in missions,” said Dixon.
Campus Ministries and Union University are working hand in hand to create an environment in which students can grow in God and tune into his voice through numerous opportunities made accessible to its students.
“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15.)
The following is a list of Union’s graduates whose beautiful feet are serving the nations:
Lisa Sipes, ’01, Social Work Major, serving 2001-2003 in Southern Asia.
Meg Wright, ’01, Learning Foundations Major, serving 2002 Spring Semester in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Carla Rose, ’01, International Business Major, serving 2001-2002 in North Africa.
Rob Dixon, ’00, Management Major, serving 2002-2004 in Romania.
Dan Shackelford, ’01, Christian Studies Major, serving 2001-2003 in Brazil.
Brad Horner, ’01, Management Major, serving 2002-2004 in Middle East.
Jessica Sharpe, ’01, Spanish Major, currently in the IMB interview process for Spain.
Michele Bennett, ’02, Christian Ethics Major, currently in the IMB interview process.
Ty Bullington, ’02, Biology Major, currently in the IMB interview process.
Erika Godfrey, ’02, Biblical Studies Major, currently in the IMB interview process.
Cassie Paddock, ’02, Psychology Major, currently in the IMB interview process.
Crystal Hall, ’99, serving in Botswana.
Steve Moses, ’98, Social Work Major, currently a student at Mid-America Seminary, Memphis, 2 years in Egypt.
Andy Pettigrew, Seattle, currently coordinating mission trips.
By Jennifer Eastman
Class of 2005
Sara B. Horn,