Movement Aim #6: International Partnerships
By Will Witherington
This past weekend my wife, Danielle, and I had the privilege of attending the citizenship swearing-in ceremony of a ministry partner we have from Togo, Africa. There are many exciting things to tell about this partnership and the ceremony itself, but one of the main takeaways for me from that day was this reminder, “Being involved at significant and intentional levels in the global advance of the gospel is absolutely crucial!” During this one citizenship swearing-in ceremony, there were 300 individuals from 73 different nations. You see, the Lord is breaking down walls and barriers all over the planet so that His promise made to Abraham will be utterly fulfilled. The promise made to Abraham is that from his legacy, every nation on the earth will be blessed. This promise is ultimately fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ. From immigration reform to globalization opportunities there is no better time in the history of the world for us to be strategically and intentionally engaged in the global advancement of this gospel!
As a ministry, Campus Outreach has, from its inception, been involved in the global expansion of the gospel through the building of laborers on the campus. I can vividly remember my first Summer Project in 1994 where a team came to our project to share about their experience of living and working for the summer in Thailand. I remember being impacted by the vision that all nations were meant to love and serve our great God. A few years later, in 1999, I had the privilege of leading a team to Japan, where we, too, lived and worked for the sake of the gospel among the Japanese people. And now 24 years later having been to Brazil, Togo, Kazakhstan, Japan and Thailand my vision for the lost world is cemented into the fiber and rhythm of my own heart, the heart of my family and the heart of our region here in Lexington, KY. In light of this as we forge forward as a ministry, one of the six overarching aims for Campus Outreach as a whole is to be strategically and intentionally involved in “International Partnerships.”
Sitting in that swearing in ceremony, I was moved to think about the incredible impact our vision for the world could have on people from all nations who come to the USA but also from those of us who leave the USA to go to the various peoples of the world. My friend, who was being sworn in, has the desire to one day, Lord willing, to be sitting in Senate leadership for the country of Togo. His influence, based securely and powerfully in the gospel, will be over education and agriculture for his country. His heart is to take the life giving power of the gospel and literally change the landscape of an entire nation. It is hard to calculate and measure the exponential impact he and his family will have on their homeland. This is just ONE family! Think about the thousands of families that will be impacted this summer as we send CCP teams, LEAD teams and full-time missionaries all over the world. Think about the thousands of families that will be impacted here in the USA as our staff and students invest in 8 week training projects preparing them to “go make disciples of all nations.”
Two weeks ago, I spoke with Bobby Hamlett from Khon Kaen, Thailand. We were discussing the long range vision he and the team there in Khon Kaen have for the spread of the gospel among the Isan people of northern Thailand. Bobby’s vision is firmly rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the training up of leaders like his friend, Yute, who will think creatively and strategically about this vision. This summer teams from Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama and others will go to Khon Kaen to help Bobby, Yute, Nai, Guy, Honey, Sano and dozens of other leaders as they seek to impact and influence the people of Thailand.
As we all come off another year of laboring on the campuses in various places, remember that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. From simple to complex things like teaching a student what Matthew 28:19-20 means, to praying through Operation World, to giving money to support an indigenous leader, to joining a LEAD team, to leading a CCP, to recruiting your whole region and hub church to invest in international partnerships, all of us have a key role to play in the accomplishing of this vision. As we forge our way forward, led by the Holy Spirit and comforted by the assurance of His promise, we sing aloud the powerful line from the hymn, O Church Arise, which says, “Then Christ will have the prize for which He died, an inheritance of nations.” May this vision of our Lord and His kingdom “put strength in every stride and give grace for every hurdle.”