International Church Planting Week: Are you Called?
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Mission strategist Mark Edworthy (M.Div. 1986, D.Min.1993), his fellow laborers with IMB European affinity groups, and professors from the Fish School of Evangelism and Missions helped Southwesterners move closer to answering the call during the International Church Planting Week, Sept. 13-17. Edworthy spoke in chapel Sept. 15.
In 1983, as a first-semester student at Southwestern, Edworthy had to interview a veteran missionary for his Introduction to Missiology class. He chose a guest professor, former president of the Foreign Mission Board Baker James Cauthen. Early into the interview Cauthen began asking questions of his own, namely, “When are you going overseas, Mark?”
Edworthy replied with what he calls the get-out-of-jail-free card: “God has not called me to go overseas.”
“Isn’t that the end of the discussion?” Edworthy asked students. “‘God has not called me to do that.’ I was wiping sweat off my brow until he said the next question, ‘Well, how do you know?’
“I wrote up the report but I never got away from the question, so I pose it to you,” Edworthy said. “At the end there will be an opportunity for you to answer—not for this guest missionary, but for the Father who asks it of all of us.”
Nightly events sponsored by the World Missions Center and coordinated by IMB personnel provided avenues in which seminary and college students could discover their answers to Edworthy’s question.
On Monday evening, Keith Eitel, dean of the Fish School, and other IMB missionaries explained unique opportunities for students to complete coursework while they serve overseas. The 2+2 program for International Church Planting (ICP) and the College at Southwestern’s Jump Start program were first envisioned by Eitel during his 25 years as a professor in Southern Baptist institutions.
On Tuesday, IMB representatives discussed the different facets and challenges of missionary life, using clips from popular movies to illustrate their points. Thursday night—College night in the WMC—featured pizza and an informational meeting about life and calling overseas.
Eitel preached on the nature of cross-cultural work as part of God’s plan of redemption during his Thursday chapel message.
“Ever since the tower of Babel, the mass of humanity has been scattered and the languages of the earth have been confounded. It’s all a part of the design of God—and we see them collectively brought back together, gathered around that throne, with one thing in common. Not a tower that we build for ourselves as in Genesis chapter 11, but around the throne of the worthy Lamb.”