I can remember attending a National Association seminar about twelve years ago. The discussion revolved around the large numbers of retiring missionaries over the next several years. This was compared with the dwindling numbers of students answering the call to cross-cultural missionary service. I would never have dreamed a decade ago that Welch College would have so many students interested in service as career missionaries, “tentmakers,” and short-term missionaries.
Welch College is abuzz with missions. Our student-led Global Missions Fellowship (GMF) stimulates interest in missions and awareness of people groups across the globe who are in need of the gospel. GMF accomplishes this through daily student-led prayer services for missions, fundraising for missions projects, and student missions trips. GMF also sponsors “Missions Moments,” once a week in chapel.
GMF is symbolic of the college’s seventy-one-year-long drive to play its role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission—and equip our students to do the same. We aim to make global missions not just a career but a lifestyle. We want Welch to produce graduates who are Great Commission Christians.
We believe that every one of our students can play a special role in this mandate. Some of our students are called to career missionary service and are being educated for that role at Welch. Our excellent B.A. degree program in Missions takes missions education seriously, for majors and non-majors alike.
Headed by veteran missionary-teacher Ron Callaway, missions majors combine heart, head, and hands to master cross-cultural ministry. The Missions Program sponsors missions trips, internships, missions conferences, retreats, and a host of other activities and events to make missions a central part of campus life.
Ron Callaway is in an excellent position to be able to train future missionaries. Not only is he a career missionary with four decades of cross-cultural missionary experience in places such as Spain, Panama, and Cuba. He also combines the heart of a missionary with the mind of a scholar. Chiefly, Ron Callaway is hailed by his students as a spiritual mentor who guides them in the way of Christ.
Welch College’s Great Commission emphasis impacts not just our missions majors and minors, but our entire student body. Our students who are called as local church ministers—pastors, youth and family ministers, music ministers, and others—have the opportunity to stimulate a vision for missions in the ministry of a local church. Our ministry majors explore the Great Commission mandate in the required course “Local Church and World Missions.”
We recently opened our international business degree program because of the increasing numbers of creative access countries that need the gospel. Many students called to missions are now majoring in international business so as to create a way to gain access to closed and restricted access countries.
Other students are majoring in business or teaching or counseling or some other “secular” field. Many of these will be career tentmakers in restricted access countries. Others will be called to surrender a time in their lives—a week, a month, a year—in short-term missionary service, using their vocational skills to help reach unbelievers in another culture. All of our graduates will be involved in praying, giving, and sending.
Welch College’s Missions Program works hand-in-hand with Free Will Baptist International Missions to educate Free Will Baptist missionaries who are thoroughly prepared for cross-cultural ministry. Leaders from Free Will Baptist International Missions and Home Missions have a presence on campus, and we are training our students to support our denominational missions efforts.
The college’s missions-as-lifestyle approach is probably the main reason that around 80 percent of all Free Will Baptist international missionaries have attended Welch College. We are boldly continuing our commitment to global missions—to being a Great Commission college for the glory of God in the twenty-first century.
Welch’s commission to world missions is the reason we support the annual World Missions Offering of the International Missions Board of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. It’s why I encourage every Free Will Baptist church and individual to give to the World Missions Offering on April 27, 2014. Please give sacrificially to the work of world missions through the WMO, to further the spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom!