51st Annual Missions Conference

Chaos: Being Christ Amidst Crisis

The world today is a pretty scary place to live. War. Disease. Natural Disasters. Terrorism. Every day, newspaper headlines across the globe proclaim the reality of our fallen world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed – or worse – to become apathetic. As Christians, what is our role and our responsibility in responding to crisis? When should we get involved and how can we most effectively communicate the message of Christ amidst all the chaos?

These questions and more were addressed during Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s 51st Annual Missions Conference, held at the Northern California campus on February 17 and 18, 2012.  WATCH THE VIDEO

John B.*, the North Africa/Middle East (NAME) regional leader for the International Mission Board (IMB), was this year’s keynote speaker. He shared his experiences living and working in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

“The Apostle Paul lived in a chaotic world,” said John B. to the more than 100 people present. “The Middle East is still one of the most chaotic places in the world. As Paul journeyed in that place, God spoke to him and gave him the opportunities to serve and do some amazing things.” John B. told the attendees, “Like Paul, God has called me to share the Gospel. He has called you, too. We get to carry the Gospel to those who have never heard – it’s the greatest privilege.”

In addition to John B.’s presentations, the two-day conference included eight seminars on topics such as tent making missionaries, counseling in crisis, opportunities for serving with the IMB and Baptist Global Response, disaster relief ministry, and Burmese refugee camps and orphanages.
The Missions Conference was the culmination of the Seminary’s Global Missions Week, which included five IMB missionary units on campus all week, speaking in classes and in small groups and student lunches. “Having these missionaries sharing what God is doing in places in the world where they serve was inspiring,” said Eddie Pate, Golden Gate’s Director of The David and Faith Kim School of Global Missions, Associate Professor of Missions, and Chair of the Intercultural Studies Department.

“Dr. Tom Elliff, president of the IMB, gave a compelling message in chapel on Friday,” recalled Pate. “He also spoke later at a pastor’s luncheon the Seminary hosted, focusing on the role of the church in ministering to unreached people groups.”

Saturday afternoon’s activities included an Urban Excursion. Accompanied by Golden Gate students, grads, and Eddie Pate, nearly 30 people went to several areas in the city to pray, observe, and engage people. A women’s henna party was also held Saturday afternoon. Henna, a temporary artwork drawn on hands and other parts of the body, is a popular beauty technique in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Christian women use henna to illustrate Bible stories and share the Gospel in a non-threatening manner. Those who attended learned how to use this tool to reach women in these cultures.

Lisa Hoff, Golden Gate’s Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies, challenged those attending, “To go beyond where we are comfortable, to the places where God want us to be, to do the things that God want us to do.” She urged the conference-goers to be God’s hands and feet, to share the Gospel, and to serve Him wherever they are placed. She concluded by praying, “Lord, sensitize our hearts to recognize what is happening around the world; that we would long to take action through our prayers and through our lives.”

Golden Gate alumni Mark and Janet Simmons* attended the conference with three teens from their church’s youth group. “We both have a love for missions, and since we served together overseas in East Asia (2007-2010) we wanted to share with these students the scope of what God is doing with the nations,” said Janet.
“The conference as a whole gives me a global perspective of God’s movement of reaching the nations,” added Mark, associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Cupertino, California. “Often we focus just on our own church and ministries. A conference such as this helps us to look outward to the nations. I want to be involved in that, moving us towards something greater, with a worldwide focus. I think that’s exciting.”

“Missions is at the heart of what happens at Golden Gate, and for 51 years the Missions conference has been where that heartbeat is most loudly heard on campus,” said Pate. “The Missions Conference is a wonderful chance for our students to focus on the nations as a community, and to corporately experience God’s heart for the nations.”

* Names withheld for security purposes