10 Years in Print: Special Edition
Welch College, World Missions, and the WMO
By Matthew J. Pinson
I remember attending a seminar at the national convention about 13 years ago.
The discussion revolved around the large numbers of missionaries retiring over the next several years. This was compared with dwindling numbers of students answering the call to cross-cultural missionary service. I never would 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 around the globe 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 71-year drive to play its part in the fulfillment of the Great Commission—and equip our students to do the same. We strive to make global missions not only a career but also a lifestyle. We want Welch to produce graduates who are Great Commission Christians.
We believe every one of our students can play a special role in this mandate. Some students are called to career missionary service, and we are educating them for that role at Welch. Our excellent B.A. in Missions takes missions education seriously, for majors and non-majors alike.
Headed by veteran missionary-teacher Dr. 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.
Dr. Callaway is in an excellent position 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. His students describe him as a spiritual mentor who guides them in the way of Christ.
Welch College’s Great Commission emphasis impacts not only missions majors and minors, however, but also the entire student body. Students called into local church ministry—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. Ministry majors explore the Great Commission mandate in the required course “Local Church and World Missions.”
We recently opened an international business degree program because of the increasing numbers of creative access countries that need the gospel. Many students called to missions now major in international business to create access into closed and restricted access countries.
Other students major in business, teaching, counseling, or some other “secular” field. Many of them will become career tentmakers, working in restricted access countries. Others will surrender a period of 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 our graduates are taught to be involved in praying, giving, and sending.
Welch College’s Missions Program works hand-in-hand with Free Will Baptist International Missions to educate missionaries thoroughly prepared for cross-cultural ministry. Leaders from both International Missions and Home Missions have a presence on campus, and we are training students to support denominational missions efforts.
The college’s missions-as-lifestyle approach is probably the main reason that around 80% of all Free Will Baptist international missionaries have attended Welch College. We boldly continue our commitment to global missions, to being a Great Commission college for the glory of God in the 21st century.
Welch’s commitment to world missions is the reason we support the annual World Missions Offering for International Missions. I encourage every Free Will Baptist church and individual to give to the World Missions Offering on April 26, 2015. Please give sacrificially to the work of world missions through the WMO, to further the spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
About the Writer: J. Matthew Pinson became Welch College’s fifth president in 2002. He is author or editor of numerous articles and books, including Perspectives on Christian Worship (B&H), Four Views on Eternal Security (Zondervan), and A Free Will Baptist Handbook (Randall House). Learn more about Welch College at www.welch.edu.