Nashville to the Nations
Perspectives Coordinator making an impact in Music City.
The city of Nashville, Tennes-see is known for music. It is the home for both country music and contemporary Christian music in America. If Nashville Perspectives and USCWM Regional Office Coordinator Yvonne Wood achieves her dream, Nashville will soon become known as a model for mobilizing churches and individuals to reach unreached peoples with the Gospel.
"The reason I'm involved with the U.S. Center for World Mission ministry here in Nashville is because the Lord impressed upon my heart that He was going to do a work here for the nations," said Wood. "God is working to raise awareness of missions and a stronger interest in partnership among the churches."
Wood was at a missions conference a few weeks ago and the largest Pentecostal church in Nashville, Christ Church, is now in covenant partnering with First Baptist Church of Franklin (a community just outside of Nashville) to work together to reach unreached people groups. Previously it was unheard of that a Southern Baptist church and a Pentecostal church would ever work together. One of the reasons this took place is that both churches have been active in the Nashville Perspectives course.
Yvonne has been building a network of relationships with leaders from Nashville area churches since 1990, and has made use of the media skills of many of her students to get the word out about the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class. Wood invested a thousand dollars into creating a very professional promotional video for her class. One of her previous students, a church media director, shot and edited the video; another student who does voice-overs narrated, and testimonies about how the Perspectives class changed their lives came from various students.
The video is so outstanding that at least three Nashville area churches have shown it at their morning services, and for the initial meeting for fall classes 240 students showed up with an interest in taking the 16-week class. There are 175 students who actually registered and stayed on for the fall '98 classes.
From 1990 through 1997, ten Perspectives classes were held in Nashville, with 474 people taking the course. Of that number 81 people either are on the mission field now or are in preparation for career missions or have served a minimum of two years in full-time missions. The class has been taken by 28 people who are now in pastoral ministries and dozens of alumni are actively mobilizing their churches, prayer groups and families for greater involvement in world evangelization.
Many of the other Nashville Perspectives alumni are developing strategic mission initiatives for their companies. Several of the students are combining their new zeal for world evangelization with their music or arts ministries.
One amazing success story is that of Ron Krueger, a producer for Word Music in Nashville. Krueger was so impacted by the message of the class that he donated time to create an interactive CD-Rom for Wycliffe Bible Translators, called the Explorer. This fascinating tool uses music, video, computer games and animation to inform people about the ministries of Wycliffe. Krueger also created interactive kiosks to attract technology-oriented high school and college age students to consider becoming Wycliffe missionaries.
The Wycliffe Explorer CD-Rom is now being given out at student and mission conferences to represent their ministry. All of this is happening because of the vision that Krueger received from Perspectives. "I think one of the things I saw through Perspectives was how strategic missions is," said Krueger. "God has a plan that's at work and it's not just a randomly scattered effort of individuals as part of the body of Christ, but as a whole. He has a place and a purpose and a strategy for each one of us. Whether we go out to the field or whether we stay here, we have a place in His purpose to touch the nations and to reach peoples all over the world," he said.
Another success story shown on the Nashville Perspectives promotion video is Josh Andersen: "I think the impact of the course has absolutely revolutionized my life. Even today I say that next to meeting Jesus, I think the Perspectives course has had more of an impact in my life than anything as far as change. After I took the class it revolutionized my life, the way I read the Bible, the way that I pray, the way that I wake up in the mornings and go to sleep at night. It really did affect everything in my life. Radical, I think is the word for Perspectives." Josh went on to work at the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena in the Serve Work Study program. Afterward, he became a team leader for a Teen Missions team in summer 1998.
The promotion video ends with a testimony and song from Perspectives alum and contemporary Christian musician Scott Wesley Brown, who says: "Perspectives ruined my plans, but actually it ruined them for the better. What it did was it took a self-absorbed career-oriented person and turned that person into a God-absorbed kingdom-bound person and on top of that added the incredible adventure of declaring His praises to every tribe and tongue and nation. That is what missions is all about and I'm glad I took Perspectives."
The video ends with Brown singing a song he wrote called "You Are Holy," with choirs from several different ethnic groups singing along and praising God.
For people who want to see greater results in mobilizing their churches and communities with the Perspectives class, Yvonne Wood has this advice: "Find out what is already happening in your city that brings churches together--prayer groups, city wide movements--and connect with those. That will help you get to know people from a variety of denominations and churches. Secondly be a servant to the churches, that's probably first. Become friends; don't push an agenda on them, but look for ways that you can serve them, love them and be friends with them. So much of Perspectives is relational. Build relationships and have your own passion for what you are doing and that begins to rub off. Finally, in everything you do, try to do it as excellently as possible."