What does the DiscipleMakers motto “Reaching the campus, Reaching the world” mean? It means that we see college students who are transformed by Christ as key to bringing the gospel to every sphere of influence. We pray that they will eagerly bear the gospel to their American jobs and families and churches, to the foreign mission field, and back to their native countries. Students who catch the vision for reaching their peers for Christ long to see the world transformed by Him.
In response to students’ growing vision for gospel-transformation in the world, we hosted our first missions conference over winter break. Around 40 students chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve by learning about and praying for international missions work. Challenged not to wait but to begin to reach the nations with the gospel now by sending others or going themselves, many responded. Some committed to pray regularly for a particular country or people group. Others began to financially support missions work around the world. Still others decided to explore whether God might be calling them to international missions work by serving on a summer missions trip.
Twenty-one students joined DiscipleMakers missions trips to Colombia and to Belize this summer. In Belize, all the ministry plans that had been made became impossible when Hurricane Earl made landfall right where twelve students and a DiscipleMakers staff family were staying. They sheltered with their hosts in a concrete facility in the mountains, praying for God’s protection and mercy on themselves and the people of Belize. Protected by God from the hurricane’s blast, the team spent the rest of the trip volunteering with disaster relief and sharing the gospel with those they worked alongside of. Student Abby Warde (right photo in blue shirt) reflected, “The missionary we were working with told us to do disaster relief and while we were working, talk with the people about the gospel. He lived his life like that regularly. I realized that I have segmented my life into lots of different sections, like school, Bible study and outreach and I haven’t really been looking for ways to share the gospel in every part of my life. I want to live differently now that I’m back. I want to have homework time be an opportunity to minister just like outreach time is.”
The trip to Colombia included a visit to a mission station where missionaries had labored for 40 years without seeing one single convert, a visit to a Bible school where future missionaries received training, and some practical service projects. Connie Hernandez (on the far left), a 2016 Penn State grad, is fluent in English and Spanish. “I started taking Christianity seriously Fall of 2014 during [DiscipleMakers'] Fall conference, [but] it wasn’t until Spring of 2015 where I accepted Jesus into my life. I was very timid to let my life go and give all my trust to the Lord … I signed up to attend the mission trip because I was excited to see how the Lord would use me and what Christianity looks like in the Latin culture. I was hesitant at first because I was a 'baby' Christian not feeling 'good enough' nor 'wise enough' to spread the gospel.” Connie told DM staff and missions trip leader Matt Geiger. “What I learned from this experience is that the Lord uses ordinary people with extraordinary gifts given from the Lord to bear witness to all nations to glorify His name and spread the gospel... I am currently praying for understanding my role for His kingdom and how I could serve and disciple others.”
We are thankful for the students who joined these trips and we pray that God will call some of them to take the gospel to places where the name of Jesus has never been spoken. We also pray that all of these students and many more would devote themselves to “reaching the world” right where God calls them - the secular workforce, their neighborhoods and their families - for the rest of their lives.
Thank you for helping us raise up a generation on campus that will reach the world with the gospel. We could not do this without you.