like peas and carrots!
Free Will Baptist Bible College and International Missions work together for worldwide outreach.
By David Williford
Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist International Missions by visiting their website: www.fwbgo.com.
Early Missions Impact
Missions and world evangelism were ingrained in me at an early age. As a child, I remember our church making preparation for the annual Foreign (now international) Missions Offering. The church set a goal and monitored progress for a month. Sunday School classes were challenged to set and meet goals so missionaries could take the gospel to a world that did not know Christ.
As a pastor, for 27 years I kept the cause of world evangelism before my people, scheduling missionary speakers on a regular basis. I traveled the state of Florida five years promoting our missions program. Missions has been a vital part of my Christian experience.
The denomination gave me one of the highest honors of my life in 1996 by electing me to the Foreign Missions Board. Later, when President Matt Pinson asked me to join him at Free Will Baptist Bible College, I requested (and received) permission to finish my second term on the (renamed) International Missions Board.
FWBBC and Missions
The college has impacted the international community through its commitment to world evangelism and its heart for missions. That’s why I feel at home on the FWBBC campus. You may remember a line from a recent film in which the lead character said, “some things go together like peas and carrots.” When you think about FWBBC and missions, they go together like peas and carrots. They are inseparable.
Every Wednesday during chapel, we observe a “Missions Moment.” A student or faculty member will take three to five minutes to share information about a missions need around the world. The brief time concludes with prayer for that specific need.
On one occasion, President Pinson was asked, “Why don’t we have business moments or history moments or pastoral ministry moments? We offer degrees in those areas too.”
Dr. Pinson replied, “Supporting missions is the duty of all Christians. Not every one is called to pastoral ministry. Business and history are not the purpose of the church. We want every student to accept responsibility for carrying out the Great Commission.”
That’s why FWBBC students are involved in short-term mission projects. For a number of years, students and faculty or staff have traveled overseas during Spring Break. Two years ago, the Student Body raised $10,000 to build a church in Tajikistan. A group of students then journeyed to Tajikistan to help construct the church.
FWBBC and FWBIM
Our biggest impact is and has been in partnership with Free Will Baptist International Missions. In her 1985 book, Touching the Untouchables, Miss Laura Belle Barnard (the first Free Will Baptist foreign missionary) wrote about the vital role of prayer in her ministry. “…we depended on continual prayer support. Missionary Prayer Band proved to be our inestimable asset in this vital aspect of our outreach. Originating on the Free Will Baptist Bible College campus during the school’s first year of existence (1942), the prayer band has met daily, uninterrupted through the years.”
When World War II prevented Laura Belle from returning to India, Dr. L.C. Johnson invited her to teach missions at the denomination’s new college. Those early students still recount her prayers for the lost, and how she urged a generation of college students to develop a passion for world evangelism.
That passion spilled over into the lives of Dan and Trula Cronk and Carlisle and Marie Hanna, two couples among many who caught a vision for the lost and dedicated their lives to carrying the gospel to people trapped in spiritual darkness. Like many who would follow, the two couples enlisted for world evangelization under the auspices of Free Will Baptist Foreign Missions.
What began in those early years continues today. In September 2007, I wrote the following to our donors: What Miss Barnard wrote in 1985 continues to be true today. Each day at 1:00 p.m., FWBBC students, faculty, and staff gather for a time of prayer for specific missions needs around the world. The meeting is short, but as Miss Barnard testified, it still impacts the work of God around the globe.
FWBBC has always been about missions, partnering with Free Will Baptist International Missions (FWBIM) throughout the years. The college serves as the primary training facility for our International Missions force. Eighty percent of FWBIM missionaries received all or part of their training here. The current general director, director of field operations, communications director, mobilization director, director of member care, and director of development all attended or graduated from FWBBC.
Over the years, missionaries like Eddie Payne, Clint Morgan, Tom McCullough, Bobby Aycock, and Ron Callaway have served as missions professors after distinguished service on the field. One FWBBC professor left his position at the college to serve on foreign soil—Dr. LaVerne Miley. Long-time theology professor Leroy Forlines has partnered with FWBIM Missions in recent years, making numerous trips to Russia and Central Asia lecturing and teaching believers in those countries, preparing them to reach their own nation.
Each year FWBIM provides a Missionary-In-Residence (MIR) for FWBBC by designating a missionary on stateside assignment to the college. The MIR (or missionary couple) live in the Laura Belle Barnard House on campus, interact with students, teach missions classes, and make themselves available to the college family. Their presence fans the flame for world evangelism among students, faculty, and staff.
FWBBC hosts E-Team members and the FWBIM staff for training sessions each summer before teens and sponsors circle the globe with the message of Christ. Many FWBBC students spend seven weeks in cross-cultural ministry as Overseas Apprentices during summer vacation. You guessed it; they serve under the guidance of Free Will Baptist International Missions.
Yes, our commitment to missions runs deep at FWBBC.
Future of International Missions and FWBBC
For the past six years, I’ve seen both sides of the equation as an FWBBC employee and International Missions Board member. The administrations of both ministries work together to craft a curriculum for the changing face of missions around the world.
A few weeks ago, at the invitation of Ron Callaway (FWBBC Missions Program Coordinator), the FWBIM staff and several former and retired missionaries met in the college conference room. We served as a mock “mission board” as members of Callaway’s class appeared before us with results of intense studies they had done about a people group they desired to reach. They were expected to know information about the place they wanted to go and the people they wanted to reach, and present a plan to share the gospel with them.
It was gratifying to observe the students’ level of commitment and hearts of passion. The experience was good training, since many of them will appear before a mission board at some point in the future. The quality of young people preparing to spend their lives in cross-cultural ministry encouraged us all.
So that’s where we are. Where do we go from here? Frankly, none of us know. The world changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and the face of missions changed with it. Areas have opened today that no one could have imagined in 1988, and only God knows what will happen during the next two decades. I am confident, however, that whatever happens, FWBBC and FWBIM will cooperate in carrying the gospel to a world that has not heard.
The words of an old gospel hymn fit the ministry of both departments:
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right
A story of truth and sweetness
A story of peace and light
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noon-day bright
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.
I plan to be part of making that happen. Missions will not vanish from my life when my term on the FWBIM Board expires. It is the core of my being. It is the essence of my alma mater and employer, FWBBC. It is the soul of FWBIM. We all fit together…like peas and carrots.
ABOUT THE WRITER: David Williford is vice president for institutional advancement at Free Will Baptist Bible College.