This is an article from the November-December 2009 issue: Committed!

Perspectives & College Students

A Dynamic Combination

Perspectives & College Students

In 1974, a small class took place on the campus of Wheaton College that would eventually grow into one of the most effective and widely used mobilization tools in history. The words of that first professor, Arthur Glasser, characterized the path the Perspectives course would follow: “Who despises the day of small things?” (Zech 4:10). In the 35 years since, Perspectives has impacted over 80,000 North American believers from all walks of life, and thousands of others around the world.

Perspectives was originally designed as a course for college students following the 1973 Urbana Student Mission Convention. The unprecedented number of students there who pledged their lives to mission moved Dr. Ralph Winter to action. “God cannot lead you on the basis of information you do not have,” Winter famously said, as he crafted and launched the Summer Institute of International Studies (the original name of Perspectives).
In the early 1980s Perspectives coordinators were encouraged to get churches involved by hosting classes. This produced a strong shift in the demographics of Perspectives participants towards laypeople. Now, 25 years later, only 17% of those who take Perspectives are collegians. The exciting news, however, is that the pendulum is swinging back to a better balance, and students are enrolling in droves! Before Dr. Winter died earlier this year, he asked, “How do we get Perspectives back to the college campus where it started?” Well, Dr. Winter, we’re working on it!

Yes, our national staff team, regional directors, and 1000+ volunteers across the U.S. are vigorously pressing ahead in getting churches and lay people engaged in Perspectives. But, we also have renewed vision and goals to establish Perspectives courses on or near multiple college campuses in all 50 states. If you live anywhere near a college campus, will you help us?

One of our newest strategies for getting Perspectives back to the campus is the college mobilization ministry of Every Ethne. We have a growing band of seasoned staff who come alongside to serve the various campus ministries, provide a mission emphasis, and use Perspectives as one of their main mobilization tools. One of our Campus Mobilizers, Andy Kampman, lives in Iowa City (home of the University of Iowa) but is focused on engaging, equipping and connecting students (all over the state) to God’s heart for the nations. See Andy’s story in the sidebar.

A Bonus and a Warning

A huge bonus feature for students is the fact that Perspectives is available for college credit in dozens of universities and seminaries across the country—including Trinity International University. On most campuses, it usually takes just one determined student to spearhead getting Perspectives accepted for credit at his or her college, thus paving the way for perhaps hundreds of others who can also take it for credit. Contact our office for a complete packet on how to get your college (Christian or secular) to accept Perspectives for credit.

Still, hundreds of college students each year will choose not to take advantage of the credit option, but rather take Perspectives at (still demanding!) certificate level. This prompts the question: Why would a university student with a full academic load take an additional 3-hour college level course requiring 30+ pages reading per week, assignments, final paper, etc…without receiving credit? Could it be there is a movement of God underway, preparing the next generation of World Christians to pursue ambitions greater than the American Dream?

But beware: Of all the classes one may take in college, Perspectives may be the most significant in terms of putting all the rest of them in… well, perspective! Here’s how Alaina, a student involved with Chi Alpha at Oregon State, described her experience: “Coming into my senior year, I had passion but no direction. I signed up for Perspectives, thinking I’d learn a little more about the world. But God had more in store. He broke my heart for people He treasures whose physical and spiritual needs are overlooked, and He showed me what we could work together to do.”

The Vital Link

There are thousands of “Alainas” coming off the college campus each year who are ready and willing to serve God and extend the Kingdom anywhere He tells them. In addition, the Lord has seen fit to entrust us with one of the most potent and effective mobilization tools in modern history—the Perspectives course! And so we stay up late at night, brainstorming and praying about how our Perspectives team and course can be the vital link between the college campus and the unreached world. We feel a heavy burden and stewardship to provide whole new generations of goers to the myriad of excellent sending agencies spread out across the U.S. and beyond. If you are part of an agency, please help us to help you!—become a partner agency with us.

Dream with Me

Finally, I have to believe there is at least one evangelical church and/or ministry on or within driving distance of each of our nation’s 3,000+ institutions of higher education. What if just one of these fellowships near each of these schools committed to launch a Perspectives course and pull in other churches and para-church collegiate ministries in order to mobilize this next generation of students to complete the Great Commission? Will you take the challenge? With the resources to finish this task in our lifetime, it would seem the only reason for failing would be indifference, lack of vision… or just plain disobedience! As it was a century ago, pray with us that “the evangelization of the world in this generation” will once again be the rallying cry of thousands of today’s college students.


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