Missions Conference Focuses on God, not Missions
When nearly 150 students arrived at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for the 48th annual missions conference, they were warned not to make the weekend about missions. “The trajectory of our lives cannot be the nations; it cannot even be missions. The trajectory of our lives must be God,” said Dr. Michael Stroope, keynote speaker.
On February 13, 2009, college students from campuses all over the West joined Seminary students for three days at the Northern California campus of Golden Gate Seminary. The theme of the 48th annual conference was “Extraordinary: Everyday People Doing Great Things With God.”
Stroope, associate professor of Christian
Missions at Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, was formerly director of the mission organization All Peoples, and served for nine years with the International Mission Board in Sri Lanka. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Seminary.
“The world is desperate to see God, to see ordinary lives reflect God, to see Him embodied in a living person.” Stroope went on to say that we exist for the glory of God. “Give up your small ambitions and yield to God’s larger purposes by faith.”
During the Saturday morning gathering, Golden Gate Seminary
graduate and IMB missionary Theresa Thompson was acknowledged by Seminary President Jeff Iorg, as he awarded a plaque commemorating the Theresa Thompson Scholarship to Thompson’s family. The scholarship was established by Thompson’s friends and family to help mobilize young single women to become missionaries. Thompson graduated from Golden Gate with a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts and Intercultural Studies in 1999. Thompson died of cancer in Munich on July 10, 2008, while serving with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mark Hruza, along with 22 students involved in The Salt Company ministry at the University of Utah, drove more than 700 miles from Salt Lake City for the conference. When asked if his plans had become clarified during the weekend, Hruza said, “I’m slowly gaining more confidence and understanding in what God wants me to do. My eyes are becoming open to what my purpose is.”
Emilie Rutherford from Portland, Oregon can’t wait to go home. “I really want to tell people about Christ when I get back.”
That’s exactly what Garth Clayborn, Program Coordinator for the conference was hoping. “We just want them to get inspired and to get involved in some way, to see that there are different opportunities and avenues, regardless of their skill sets,” Clayborn said. “We want them to know that God can use anyone.”
Students learned about some of those opportunities and avenues at eight different seminars offered during the conference. Representatives from ministries such as The Crescent Project, Uttermost Sports, Fount of Mercy and the International Mission Board focused on the Muslim world, restricted access countries, sub-Saharan Africa, and Eastern Europe. Four Golden Gate Seminary Journeyman students presented a panel offering fascinating stories from the field. Terri Willis, IMB Director of National Relations led a seminar, as did Kelly Davis and Mike Lopez, IMB Student Mobilization Strategists. David Busch led a rich tapestry of cross-cultural and multi-lingual worship.
On Saturday afternoon, students shared food and Christ’s love with people in San Francisco. An interactive prayer room and evening café with live music rounded out the weekend.
Kayleigh Lewerenz, from Arizona State University in Tempe, is glad she came. “I loved going back to the basics and focusing on the glory of God and not the glory of one’s self. That’s simple, powerful truth that can never be overemphasized.”
Golden Gate Seminary student Elizabeth Reust agreed. She said the one big thing she’ll take away is that “it’s all about God.”
“It’s not about going. It’s not about us,” Stroope told the group. “It’s all about God.”