Area residents get chance to share with missionaries

April 23, 2012

Approximately 400 people from across the High Plains and West Texas took advantage of the opportunity to meet and learn from missionaries Saturday as Wayland Baptist University hosted ExperienceMissions 2012. The event, which was co-sponsored and supported by area churches, brought missionaries and aid organizations from around the world to Plainview for a day-long conference on addressing the Biblical Great Commission, as given in Matthew 28: 18-20 (NKJV): “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ”

Throughout the day, participants were able to learn about organizations such as Mission Arlington, the Christian Women’s Job Corps, Go Now Missions and the Hale County Literacy Council. They got the chance to hear stories from and visit with missionaries from places as diverse as New York City and China.

They got to hear the story of how Jerry Rassamni, the author of “From Jihad to Jesus: An Ex-Militant’s Journey,” fought against Christians as a Muslim Extremist during the Lebanese Civil War before moving to Houston and becoming a Christian; and finally, Saturday evening, they were challenged by keynote speaker Dr. Jesse Rincones, pastor of Alliance Church in Lubbock and president of the Hispanic Baptist Convention, to look beyond the perceived risks involved in following Jesus’ call to service.

Rincones talked about his own journey from lawyer to full-time pastor and used a question his wife asked him to frame his challenge to the audience at the Mission Celebration Service. After telling his wife one evening that he had considered quitting the law firm at which he worked to devote his time to full-time ministry, Rincones said his wife asked a simple question: “Why didn’t you?.”

The answer, he continued, was just as simple, at the time. He had thought through the changes he and his family would have to make and the various challenges they would face in making those changes and decided it was too risky.

“That is what stands between us and the call of Christ. It’s this calculus we do in our heads,” he said, adding that the calculations always involve risk of some type, whether it is financial or professional or social.

“Everyone who has ever followed the call to Christ has done that calculus of risk,” he said, before asking the rhetorical question of how one is to overcome that risk.

After acknowledging that God’s call always involves some form of risk, he pointed out that the call also always comes with a promise in the Great Commission that God always will be with those who choose to follow Him.

As Rincones wrapped up the day, he encouraged those in attendance to look beyond the risk and embrace the promise as they responded to God’s call — a response that organizers of the event hope will lead to at least 100 commitments to missions in ensuing weeks and months.

According to Dr. Shaw, the director of the Wayland Mission Center and one of the primary organizers of the event, the overall goal of the event was to raise awareness of mission needs and opportunities and to encourage response. To that end, in addition to coming to the Wayland campus for Saturday’s conference, guest missionaries fanned out across the region on Sunday to visit area churches.

Dr. Lester Griffin, the director of missions for the Caprock Plains Baptist Area in Plainview, said in that regard that Sunday was just as important as Saturday to the overall success of the event because it gave area congregations an even greater chance to establish ties with the missionaries and their organizations.

“I was extremely pleased with all of the missionary organizations that were there,” Lester said.

“If you were looking for information and ideas, you got it.”

Lester said he and his wife chose to divide and conquer when faced with all the available options. He wanted to find out more about Mission Amarillo and she wanted to learn about the Christian Women’s Job Corps so they split up and went their separate ways. Lester said he also took the time to check in on the youth and children’s tracks and was pleased with the interactions he saw there.

Shaw said he heard good responses from both the youth and the children on how much they had learned about missions through the course of the day.

He also got some positive feedback from the missionaries who participated.

“Glennda Cook, (International Mission Board) missionary from Taiwan, expressed it in this way: ‘I will report to the IMB — especially my area missionaries — to sign up every year for the event at Wayland Mission Center,’ ” Shaw said.

He added, “Every missionary I spoke with was delighted by the experience, overwhelmed with the quality of our students and excited that we are the only university around doing missions.”

Go to the Wayland Mission Center link at to see a photo gallery of the day’s events.