The Tide Begins to Turn
Reprinted by permission from Today's Mission, The World Christian Magazine, (March/April, 1982) Box 40010, Pasadena, CA 91104.
A 1980 editorial in Missiology asked the question, "where are student activists today?" The editor was concerned about the apparent complacency of our generation.
There has been an undeniable lull in student leadership over the past decades, but those days are now history. During January 1 3, 1982, seventy five students and student leaders, representing thirty nine fellowships, gathered to discuss how they might unify their efforts in calling their peers to commitment to taking the Gospel to the Frontiers. The "Frontiers" were defined as those people groups that currently have no indigenous church. This gathering was initiated thoroughly from the student level and points to a coming tide of mission fervor that has long been prayed for.
The impetus for the National Student Mission Consultation (NSMC), which later became the National Student Mission Coalition, is best traced back to the international Student Consultation on Frontier Missions (ISCFM) held in Edinburgh, Scotland November of 1980. This ten day gathering brought 150 students from forty seven countries with the same goal as the NSMC. During this consultation, an International Frontier Pledge was formulated which reads as follows:
By the grace of God and for His glory, I commit my entire life to obeying His commission or Matthew 28:18 20 whenever and however He leads me, giving priority to the peoples currently beyond the reach of the gospel (Romans 15:20 21). 1 will also endeavor to impart this vision to others.
The NSMC was called around this pledge. Many Frontier fellowships and Frontier organizations have been formed since the ISCFM; for example, the Theological Students for Frontier Missions and the Biola Frontier Fellowship. The first day of the NSMC included speeches by David Howard on "The History of Student Missions" and J.R. McQuilkin, president of Columbia Bible College of 'The Need for Laborers." John Kyle, Director of InterVarsity Missions, gave his assessment of where students are today and representatives of Campus Crusade for Christ, Navigators, International Students, Inc., and the (IS. Center for World Mission gave their assessments. Kyle threw the question to the students: "Why aren't your peers doing the job?" He described youth as being willing to go but not planning to. Students' insightful responses included:
- We make the challenge too easy;
- Our generation suffers from lack of commitment;
- We're bombarded with too many choices;
- Decisions for missions are sometimes made from group pressure and therefore may not be solid;
- We have too small a view of God; *There's a differentiation between the Christian career and the cause of Christ; Buttonholing God's will to preplanned vocations; Foggy leadership not a strong enough call to commitment nor creative, innovative thinking.
Kyle said he believes the call to missions is being watered down by leaders who need to have the stance that, "you ought to plan to go as a missionary unless specifically otherwise directed." David Bryant, a well known mission activist, challenged the students with his conviction that any movement of students aimed at the Frontiers needs to be grounded in a disciplined lifestyle of prayer and meditation on the Word. Bryant shared from the passage in Isaiah 62 where the watchmen on the tower were expressing that they would take no rest, nor would they give rest to God until He made Jerusalem the praise of the earth until His glory would be known throughout the world.
This talk by Biyant resulted in the students adopting the phrase "Take no rest give no rest" as a prayer watchword.
Throughout the next two days task forces met to discuss specific areas of concern. These subjects included:
Student and Missions Board Relationships, Keys to Student Involvement, New Approaches to Missions, Student and Local Church Relationships, Student and College Leadership Relationships
A planning committee was selected to articulate the overall purpose of the intended Coalition and to propose a basic structure on the national scale that could meet that purpose. It was decided that the Coalition should not appear as some new organization that was duplicating present efforts and thus simply taking members away from other groups, but that its members would have the task of infiltrating the Frontier vision inside their own groups.
Thus the coalition would, "Provide stimulus in the raising up of sufficient laborers who will go out to finish the task of reaching every tribe, tongue, people, and nation with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." It was also decided to adopt the Edinburgh '80 pledge and the Lausanne Covenant as the doctrinal stance. The planning committee was unable to suggest one specific structure the Coalition should take so the floor was left with that decision. The name, National Student Mission Coalition was adopted.
Three of the representatives were given the responsibility of ensuring that the coalition does serve the individual and group initiatives and fan the fires of frontier vision wherever possible. Those selected were Rob Larkin (Trinity Seminary), Robert Nachtigall (Wheaton College), and Cindy Smith. Direct correspondence to "National Student Mission Coalition", P.O. Box 96, Upper Darby, PA 19082.
The Student Mission Coalition of Southern California was formalized February 10, 1982 in Pasadena, CA with 50 people in attendance. It was decided to have a membership concept whereby people could identify with the Coalition. It was also affirmed very strongly that this Southern California Coalition will work through its members to spread frontier vision in the respective fellowships and organizations rather than replace present groups and organizational initiatives.
Six membership criterion were set:
- signing of the Edinburgh '80 pledge
- daily prayer for the frontier cause
- pursuing ongoing mission education with a plan to complete a frontier oriented mission course of approximately 150 study hours
- accepting a work assignment, coordinated by the coalition, aimed at spreading the vision
- reporting monthly to some other coalition member on progress of assignment and personal obedience to Christ's commission
- resolving, within two years of having become a member, to take definitive steps either towards going to the frontiers or significantly sending to the frontiers
For information write: SMCSC, P.O. Box 40010, Pasadena, CA 91104.