Shaw sets vision for Wayland Missions Center

Release Date: April 17, 2008

PLAINVIEW – With his first full semester as director of the Wayland Baptist University Mission Center and Dean of the Kenya Campus nearly complete, Dr. Richard Shaw is pleased with the early development of the newly formed mission center.

As the scope of the Mission Center continues to develop, Dr. Shaw has taken input from the administration and area church leaders, and used it to outline his vision for the center.

“As I have heard them and attempted to really listen, as well as with what God has placed on my heart, my vision is four fold,” Shaw said.

First, Dr. Shaw wants to give every Wayland student both in Plainview and the external campuses as many opportunities as possible to work with and volunteer for mission projects. In so doing, he hopes that students will be introduced to new people and new cultural experiences.

“It is my dream that every student that comes through Wayland has some kind of mission experience. I would hope that would be cross-cultural,” he said.

The first step toward meeting this dream involved a request from the student body as well as the Chairman of the Division of Religion and Philosophy, Dr. Paul Sadler, to form a campus mission group. Called Apostolos, meaning “one who is sent out” the group’s goal is to turn Wayland as a body into a group that truly attempts to minister to the needs of the community.

“The first purpose of the mission center is starting in our own Jerusalem and ministering to the needs of the people,” Shaw said.

The second point of emphasis for the mission center is to act as a liaison between the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Baptist churches in the area. In his short time in West Texas, Dr. Shaw said that through his speaking in many area and regional churches as well as his dealings with the BGCT officials and interviews at the Baptist Building in Dallas, he has noticed what he calls a disconnect between the BGCT and the churches in this area.

“I have come to understand that these churches feel distant from the BGCT. Yet they feel a very strong love for Wayland,” he said.

Dr. Shaw said he wants to foster the relationship Wayland has with the churches and help to reconnect this area of Texas with the BGCT. In so doing, he wants to develop programs to help train church groups for short term mission work.

The third role Dr. Shaw envisions for Wayland involved expanding the current curriculum to meet the needs of those students expressly interested in mission work.

“We want to expand the number of courses we offer in missions, in world religions and in religious movements such as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Wicca and other different kinds of New Age movements,” Shaw said.

In developing mission oriented curriculum, however, Dr. Shaw hopes to incorporate Wayland’s other academic disciplines.

“Doing this is going to be a new model at Wayland, but I believe it is a model that is cutting edge in terms of mission study,” he said. “Mission, while housed in religion, can never be isolated to just religion.”

Dr. Shaw said much of mission work involves business knowledge and understanding of commerce and economics. Missionaries need teaching skills as well as understanding of family dynamics and parenting. He said a lot of mission work involves fine arts such as music and drama as well as math and sciences and understanding agriculture and water purification methods and things of that nature.

“If we want to prepare students to be good, productive missionaries, cross-cultural witnesses, it’s about everybody. It’s not just the religion department,” he said.

Finally, Dr. Shaw sees Wayland developing into a well-renowned center of mission work and training.

“It is my dream, my vision, that Wayland will become a place where, if you want to study missions, if you want to do missions, Wayland is the place to go,” he said. “I want us to develop an identity, a niche that is mission related.

“I believe it is in our roots, our heritage, to develop an identity that is missional, that doesn’t eliminate anybody. It doesn’t exclude anyone, any division or any school. That is my dream.”