Penn State IIS Extension
Last February 2 and 3 at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, more than 400 students, representing four major campus organizations, participated in a Student Conference on World Evangelization (SCOWE). Now 100 of these students have signed up for the first extension course of the Institute of International Studies, a program normally offered only in Pasadena. (This coming summer a sister program, the SIIS, will be offered in Grand Rapids, Michigan.)
'9t was very significant that 400 students came to a missions conference. Christians often flock to seminars and such where they may receive a personal blessing. But it requires a somewhat higher level of commitment for them to go to one which stresses not how they can be blessed themselves, but how they can be used by God to bless people very different from themselves,' Dr. Winter said on returning to Pasadena.
Even more exciting however, to those watching from a distance is the emergence of "the Penn State IOU.
'After the conference I couldn't eat nor sleep, I was so moved by what I had heard," one said.Others indicated a desire to have their vision expanded, to learn what God is doing in our world today and to find out how God perhaps wants to use them in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Jay Gary, Personnel Director of the U.S. Center for World Mission and a former Campus Crusade staffer on the Penn State campus, is enthusiastic about the response of those students. "These 'Penn State 100' are the future of the world in a world without a future,' he said. Gary was instrumental in the organization of the SCOWE conference and has now been released from his duties in Pasadena for three months in order to administrate the program at Penn State. Even this early this has not been an easy job. Negotiations with the three campus Christian groups have been underway for over a year. Working out the accrediting process and the sensitive negotiations with the university was both time consuming and an education in itself. "But it was worth it. Think what would happen if 20,000 students per year were exposed to 140 hours of detailed information about what God is doing in the world," envisioned Dr. Winter.
Many all over the U.S. are doing precisely that. Inter Varsity is thinking of a massive new student missions movement, as is Campus Crusade, Navigators, and Young Life. Robert Coleman, chairman of the Training Division of the USCWM, views IIS and programs like it elsewhere, as an essential part of the process. He harks back to the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions begun in the late 1800s by praying students who caught a vision for the evangelization of the world in their generation. The movement eventually resulted in 20,000 young people going overseas during a period of 30 years, with 80, 000 others staying home to support them with prayer and finances.
"It can happen again," insists Coleman, "but only if we again bring about a wedding between the university and the missionary tradition.
"The Training Division of the USCWM through its Institute of International Studies program seeks to bring about that "wedding." Coleman went on to speak of the 1.2 million committed evangelical students on secular college campuses and said that only in programs such as IIS would such students ever hear about the 2. 5 billion Hidden Peoples still beyond the reach of all mission agencies and all churches. "The beautiful thing about llS' he said, "is that these students can get academic credit anywhere for these studies. The program utilizes as many as 30 college professors, all specialists in missions and all wellknown."
"We do have a problem, however," added Dr. Winter. "There is no way that our one little campus in Pasadena will be large enough to help 20,000 or more students to get this kind of perspective. At best we can house and feed 2000 per year, or 500 each quarter, year round. The amazing thing is that 70 years ago there were 40,000 students studying such courses at any given time. When you consider that there are 37 times as many students in college today as then, that figure is incredible. It really puts us to shame today."
"Well, we have three other colleges asking for courses like this right now, and another three campuses where students are investigating the possibilities, added Coleman. The way I see it, we should take advantage of modern technology and videotape all our professors so that the courses can be given anywhere, with credit. Videotape is relatively inexpensive (It takes the tuition of only 7 students to fund one program!), and it can be edited to make maximum use of the professor's expertise and the student's time in class. Because the lectures are identical, the same tests given on the Pasadena campus are useful anywhere. Moreover, the students are able to stay within their already formed fellowship groups and there work and share the challenges they receive from these video lectures. And since they stay right where they are, they are able to bring new vision to the larger campus groups, eventually leading them also into these courses."
"The main thing stopping IIS from expanding thus right now is the need for video equipment, Coleman concluded. "Negotiations for the rental or purchase of such equipment are underway now and may be finalized within the next few months. Once the equipment is available, the wedding between university and the missionary tradition may very well come about. Penn State in the meantime is a very important experiment. The students will learn a lot., and so will we," he added.