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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Workshop to have impact on community

Friday, September 7, 2007  
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By Ryan Holly

Oklahoma Christian University students have a unique opportunity this to participate in hosting this year's World Mission Workshop. The theme, "Every Tribe, Every Tongue," will be part of every activity throughout the three-day event.

"For the theme "Every Tribe, Every Tongue," we will emphasize three things: the gospel call is universal and the church today should reflect the scene described in Revelation, that missions is a global effort, and victory through sacrifice," WMW Programs and Class Coordinator Curt Niccum said. "Certain areas of the world desperately need Christ, but those who will accept the call to those fields will risk everything. We will especially highlight the needs of the Sudan and Darfur in particular."

The 2007 WMW launches on Oct. 25 at 7:00. Although listed to run until the following Saturday, the WMW will continue through midnight on Sunday in order to host a communion service.

"This communion service is a tradition that actually started when OC hosted (the workshop), and every school has followed this tradition since then. Before this tradition, the communion service was held at 7:00 Sunday morning, but that was a problem because the groups who had long distances to travel usually left Saturday night so that they could get back to their houses," WMW Director Bob Carpenter said.

Preparations for this year's WMW began in December of 2005 after an unexpected personnel change at Pepperdine University caused the university to back out of the yearly rotation between Church of Christ affiliated colleges and universities.

Leading these preparations is the WMW Steering Committee which consists of dedicated members of the Oklahoma Christian community who meet together once a week.

"The steering committee should definitely be commended for their dedication to meet every Thursday at 7:00 in the morning," Carpenter said.

The four keynote speakers are: Michael Mazzalongo, the former Dean of Students at Oklahoma Christian, currently preaching in Montreal, Canada; missionary Ben Langford, currently serving in Uganda; Gordon Dabbs, who earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma and is a prominent leader in Brazilian missions; and Yuki Obata, who preaches in Mito, Japan. Obata continues to strengthen ties with Oklahoma Christian through a relationship with Ibaraki Christian University, the Pacific Rim study abroad students and the long-term Ibaraki exchange students.

"All four of these men are excellent missionaries, godly men and very competent at what they do," Carpenter said.

The workshop will include four keynote speeches, specialized mid-sized group sessions and a diverse array of intimate classroom settings. Class topics include missions preparation, site selection, field needs, re-entry into the home culture after mission work and missions and family dynamics. In addition to these opportunities, OC will be adding another opportunity for those attending the workshop.

"A new addition to the workshop is what we are calling 'smorgasbord.' We will have a number of tables arranged in the conservatory where students can roam from table to table and hear very short presentations about a number of specific ministries or mission areas. This will allow for a broad dissemination of important information and also help students decide which classes on Saturday they might want to attend to find out more," Niccum said.

The WMW can open doors for Oklahoma Christian students who choose to take part in the workshop. Students can expect to hear about new mission efforts and progress in efforts in which they were already involved. One of these is a focus on Third Culture Kids.

"I'm really excited about the continual focus on Third Culture Kids like the last few WMWs have done. Most people don't know yet what TCKs are, but the word is getting out and more and more TCKs are realizing that they are not alone in their 'cultural identity crisis.,'" WMW Steering Committee student representative Miranda Brazle said. "A TCK is an individual who spent a significant amount of their developing years in a culture that is not that of their parents. The WMW will focus on this, not just for current TCKs, but also for anyone who is a missionary or hopes to be a missionary so they can be prepared with the knowledge of what their children might be like growing up in different cultures. I believe that Cherry Hart will be doing a class on this: raising children on the mission field."

The success of the WMW relies on participation from the Oklahoma Christian student body. A unified effort from the entire Oklahoma Christian campus community can inspire visitors and encourage Christians from around the world.

"Having great participation from the student body will be crucial for the World Mission Workshop to go smoothly and make an impact on both the student body and off-campus visitors," advisor WMW Steering Committee student secretary and financial Chad Lukkason said.

The 60 days of prayer initiative, begun Aug. 26, continues in its purpose to unite congregations, communities and students in prayer for guidance over the WMW.

Students can help in the preparation process in many ways, including being a part of the prayer effort. Another opportunity is in housing help.

"We need to be prepared to house over 1,000 students, so it is critical that people volunteer their space. Also very important is people volunteering during the actual workshop just to be available to direct people to appropriate buildings. Students can pray for this endeavor. None of this is possible without God, and we need to be thanking Him and involving Him in every step," WMW Steering Committee Campus Environment Representative Jamie Canham said.

One goal of the 2007 WMW is to involve as many campus ministries at public colleges and universities as possible.

"The campus ministries at OU, OSU and SWOSU have shown a lot of support for the World Mission Workshop in the past. We're really hoping to get the students at the University of Central Oklahoma involved this year, too," WMW Advertising Coordinator Erik Tryggestad said. "The Westwood Church of Christ has a tremendous outreach to UCO students, and we'd love to see a bunch of them at the workshop. UCO has a great, diverse student body from across the globe. The school itself is a mission field too often neglected by our congregations."

Although the theme of this WMW is international, there is also an acknowledgment of the need for local missionary activity.

"I hope that the WMW will have a profound impact on the way the members of the OC community view our place in the world. The workshop is titled 'world' mission workshop, but I hope it helps people realize that missions really begins right here at home. Missionaries are important in following the Lord's great commission, but they can't do it alone," WMW Steering Committee student multimedia coordinator Spencer Goad said.

The mission efforts are truly world-wide and reaching more and more people every day.

"The Christian world is changing rapidly. Recent research shows that Africa has more Churches of Christ than the U.S. I've seen similar estimates from India. That means that two-thirds of the membership of Churches of Christ is outside the U.S. – and that's not even counting Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Christianity is a global phenomenon, and I really hope that this workshop will give all of us a better sense of what God is doing in our world. It's an exciting time," Tryggestad said.

The 2007 WMW may be the first and last time Oklahoma Christian students will host and be active in such a worldwide event.

"We need to get the word out and raise awareness so that people can understand what this is. This is an incredible opportunity that the OC community has and it is right on our doorstep. This probably will not happen again for ten years because more schools are getting in the rotation. Our last time to host was in 1999; now it is 2007. We probably will not host this again until around 2020. People must realize how rare this opportunity is," Carpenter said.

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