Spiritual Dynamics and Foreign Missions are Emphasized at Columbia Bible College
A visitor driving onto the campus of Columbia Bible College and Columbia Graduate School of bible arid Missions might mistake the beautiful, lush tree lined campus as just another of the many small private colleges which dot the Southern States. . But that would be wrong. For 61 years, this campus has produced hundreds of warriors In the battle for world evangelIzation.
"To know Christ and to make Him known' has been the motto of the school from Its founding In 1923 by Dr. Robert C. McQuilkin, a missionary volunteer in the Student Volunteer Movement who couldn't go.
Dr. McQullkln's son, Robertson McQuilkln, today serves as the school's third president. He came to the school in 1958 after twelve years as a church planting missionary in Japan.
Almost 1,000 students study each year on the school's campus just north of Columbia. Thousands more study the Bible in Columbia's extension centers throughout the U.S. and in many foreign countries.
What makes Columbia, ("CBC', as it Is affectionately called) able to maintain its priority focus on world evangelization?
Mission Frontiers' consulting editor, David Dougherty, recently visited with President McQulikin to discover the answer to that question. He found him soft spoken, a true Southern gentleman, but more than all else a man with a passion to communicate the truth of God's word to people without an opportunity to hear the Gospel.
Dr. McQuiIkln loves students and manages to add a classroom schedule to his other leadership and administrative responsibilities. He has authored a hermeneutics textbook, as well as the recent book on missions The Great Omission, featured elsewhere in this issue. But his interests always center around the heart of a loving heavenly Father for a lost creation.
The World View of CBC
Q. DR. MCQUILKIN. YOU'VE BEEN QUOTED AS SAYING THAT THE GREATEST ISSUE OF OUR DAY IS THE QUESTION OF THE UNREACHED PEOPLES. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
A. Well, I would say that the greatest Issue of any day Is to do God's will. He has clearly given us the command to disciple all the nations and to proclaim the gospel to every person. When we contemplate the tremendous number of people who have yet to hear the gospel, I can't perceive of anything being a higher priority for the church or for the individual Christian.
Q: DR. MCQUILKIN, LET ME REPEAT A QUESTION THAT A STUDENT ASKED YOU SOME YEARS AGO. WITH SO MANY UNREACHED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD TODAY, WHY ARE SO FEW CHRISTIANS GOING'
A. Well, I wrote a little book to try and answer that question. I hope It will be used of God to help people go. (See chapter 2 reprinted In this issue). The book Is based on my own Biblical studies, and much of It has grown Inductively from my dealings with young adults through the years. I've tried to look at what the non motivating factors are. I think that the basic motivation is primarily what is missing today, and if that is cared for; the other things will tend to fall in line.
One primary factor today is self orientation. I think Christians have always struggled with the temptation to be self centered. But at least in other eras, we were ashamed of it, felt guilty about it. tried to compensate for it, or at least cover it up. Today, we defend it.
At the conscious level we reject this as a philosophy. Nevertheless, I think it rubs off on us and is seen In all sorts of attitudes. Take for example the attitude, 'I've got to be fulfilled. I must realize fully all of the potential that is within me." instead of having life consumed with a desire to find God's fulfillment to do His we have turned it around the other ways to make ourselves the¬central factor in our motivation.
I'm afraid another factor Is simply our abysmal ignorance of what the Bible really says about world evangelism's centrality in God's purpose. We hold Great Commission Workshops in a number of churches. Only the most mission minded churches usually schedule these because they require an intensive time and work commitment on the part of the church's leadership.
But I discovered that even in these churches, pastors and mission leaders do not really understand that from the beginning of the Bible God is a missionary God. They don't know that the Old Testament is a missionary book.
And of course, in many of our churches, there isn't much familiarity with the basic theology and strategy of missions in the New Testament either. I guess we got our motivation In the old days from the inspiration of exciting stories and exciting people. Today, with our emphasis on logistics and strategic concerns, we need to learn the Biblical basis of missions. I think this is the problem.
I am greatly encouraged by the new student (mission) movements, that there is some real activity and enthusiasm among young people here and there. But more than that, they seem to be a praying people and I think that Is good.
(Yet) I don't think preaching the lordship of Christ Is the only answer to our dilemma. i think there Is a great ignorance of what the Lord wants done. Preaching the lordship of Christ must occur in the context of preaching what the Lord wants done in the world.
How CBC Faces The Challenge
Q. DR. MCQUILKIN, ONE OF THE OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF CBC HAS BEEN ITS CONTINUING EMPHASIS ON BOTH A FAITHFUL WALK WITH THE LORD AND ALSO A STRONG EMPHASIS ON FOREIGN MISSIONS. WHAT HAS BEEN THE STUDENT RESPONSE TO THIS CHALLENGE OVER THE YEARS?
A. Each year we ask our graduating seniors to Indicate their future vocational plans. Through the years about 50% of them have indicated plans for some form of foreign missionary service. Now the actual percentage of those serving is not quite that high. Still it represents a substantial number.
I think when we get all the facts together, it's safe to say that I!? of those from the graduate school and 114 of those from the undergraduate school have gone into missions. Now another thing that you can say is that 1/2 of those who have gone into Christian service have gone into missions. Bible colleges in general quote that about 10% of their graduates have gone Into missions and I to 2% Into seminary. This past year of the 102 we graduated from the seminary program 70% were headed toward missions, We also graduated 150 from the undergraduate level, 60% of whom
were headed towards missions. Those are probably the highest proportions in years. We would like to see up to one half the graduates from our Graduate School program and up to one third of the graduates from our Bible College program moving toward the mission field. That would seem to be a healthy proportion. The need is so vast. The laborers are so few.
Q. WHAT HAPPENS AT CBC TO CREATE ITS UNUSUAL SENSE OF AWARENESS OF AND MOTIVATION FOR THE TASK OF TAKING THE GOSPEL TO EVERY PEOPLE, TRIBE AND NATION?
A. I think the commitment of our entire administration, faculty and staff is solidly a commitment to the task of world evangelization. We see it as the central focus of our program. Both our faculty who have returned from the mission field to teach in our program, and those who have never been on the field share this commitment equally. For example, in the Graduate school, we have a New Testament professor who has never been to the mission field, but who teaches a course on missions In the book of Acts that Is one of the most dynamic courses on mission, that we have. He Is completely committed to this.
I suppose the Student Foreign Fellowship, born here on our campus, is another significant factor. They have the responsibility to present a chapel program two to three times each month. They sponsor a 'World Christian Week" here in the winter quarter each year.
As far as active and dynamic leadership, it is the strongest organization on campus, and they provide leadership not only here but for the whole Southeastern region (for an) annual meeting of 6DO or 700 students in Atlanta from IS to 20 schools. It's more than that now since the secular campuses are being represented. They meet annually for inspiration and to strategize (for mission mobilization) for their own campuses
Q. WHAT ABOUT MISSIONARIES VISITING ON CAMPUS?
A: I would guess that we average 10 visitors a week who come to talk with students about serving overseas.
Q: EVERYDAY AS STUDENTS FILE INTO CHAPEL, ON THE WALL BEFORE THEM THEY SEE THE SCHOOL'S MOTTO AND THE MAP OF THE WORLD. THOSE ARE DIFFICULT TO IGNORE OVER THE COURSE OF THREL OR FOUR YEARS. WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESULT?
A: These two bed rock commitments have been the foundation of CBC from the beginning in 1923. The motto "To Know Him and to Make Him Known" has always been more a purpose statement than Just a motto. It has meant knowing Christ in the sense of victorious triumphant. Spirit filled Christian living. And "making Him Known" has had the sense of world evangelization.
Our hope is not that every graduate would become a missionary. We need a strong support base here at home. Think that a 3 to 1 ratio of support personnel to overseas workers would be a good support base. Our prayer is that the homemakers, the lay people, the pastor, the school teacher will all be Great Commission pastors, Great Commission homemakers, Great Commission teachers, and that they will provide the support base for reaching the world for Christ in this century.
Q. I KNOW THAT CBC'S MAJOR MESSAGE IS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ADEOUATE, SUFFICIENT SOURCE OF LIFE AND HIS GREAT COMMISSION IS THE OBJECIIVE TOWARD WHICH HIS LIFE IN US IS TO BE DIRECTED. EVERYTHING HERE SEEMS TO WORK IN HARMONY WITH THAT OVERWHELMING EMPHASIS. THERE IS A COHESIVENESS AND UNITY HERE THAT IS UNUSUAL IN CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION.
A. Well, that is the objective we hold. We have had a number of evaluations and examinations and visits over the past five years in connection with our accreditation. They always seem astounded at the cohesiveness of faculty and staff, whoever they talk to, wherever they go. Each one knows what we are about and they are committed to It. Apparently, from the surprise of the evaluators, that is not a common experience. But what you say is true. To know Him and to make Him known Is not just a motto here. And the emphasis doesn't come automatically. We are working on it all the time.