by Keith Bassham
Back in the days before flat screen displays became church foyer de rigueur, a typical BBFI church might display a world map showing its outreach. Sometimes lines would be drawn from the church’s location to a map location — a little fancier 3D version might have even used string or yarn stretched between “home” and “the regions beyond” to depict the church’s worldwide vision. No matter the representation, it always looked a little like a wheel — the home church was the hub — with spokes connecting the church with the missionary. The beginning and ending points were well defined.
This, of course, was an inaccurate depiction. A real world imagery of a church’s Great Commission work would look much more like a spider’s web than a wheel, and an inebriated one at that, as spokes would emanate not only from terminal points, but all along the spokes themselves. The best English word to describe that image is network.
We would do well to remember that the United States was once a mission field (much of it remains so), that Christianity did not originate with us, and that the center of missionary activity has been on the move since the Day of Pentecost, and signs are pointing to a gospel explosion about to take place in Asia. While some may view the new situation as threatening, I see it as cause for rejoicing.
I am pleased, then, to see how Global Partners addresses this important perspective. Associate Mission Director Jim Smith’s editing efforts this month will let you see missions in a whole new way.
Speaking of networks, this time of year always brings to mind those friends I made during my college years at BBC. So many of them are now in leadership positions, pastoring churches, leading missionary teams, educating, and providing skilled and spiritual services in local churches around the world. I believe in education of all kinds, and I have pursued (and still do pursue) studies online, but I would be much poorer in every sense today if I had not attended a college. Most of the relationships I enjoy today began in the classroom and the dormitory. I met my wife Shari on campus, of course. I became acquainted with Mike Randall, a psychology professor in my second year at BBC, and that same Mike Randall recruited me for the Tribune some 20 years later. I attended classes with Keith and Ken Gillming, dodged trouble in the dorms with, uh, some other guys (you will pardon me if I don’t mention names), and somehow received a pretty good undergrad education in Bible and theology, both systematic and practical (W. E. Dowell was my pastoral studies prof). Hardly any of this would have been possible without the on-campus experience of a BBFI Bible college.
So, our colleges are about to graduate the class of 2014. Attend the commencements. Rejoice with those rejoicing. Think about the people who made up your own personal network, and praise God for them. Finally, do what you can to make a BBFI college experience a reality for someone else.