Imagery of Regent people and campus

Missions Panel Addresses Global Concerns

By Amanda Morad | October 6, 2011

Doug Chandler and Dr. Clifton Clarke

Sponsored by Regent University's Center for Global Missions (CGM), a panel of distinguished professors, missionaries and church leaders discussed key topics on missions on Wednesday, Sept. 28 in the Library Auditorium.

The panel was led by Dr. Clifton Clarke, director of CGM and associate professor in the School of Divinity. His guests included Doug Chandler, director of missions at New Life Providence Church in Virginia Beach, Va.; Edith Prakash '03 (Divinity), co-founder of Prakash Ministries; Brian Weaver '08 (Divinity), founder of the missions organization Strategic Global Impact; Marcia Clarke, former missionary to Ghana; and Dr. Victor Cuartas, assistant professor in the School of Divinity.

Dr. Clarke pinpointed four topics that embody the Church's position in global missions in the 21st century. "We don't always have to have a lecture or write a paper," he said to the students in attendance, encouraging their participation. "Sometimes we just need to have a conversation."

The first topic was Christian missions in a pluralistic age and how missionaries can bring a message of absolute truth to a postmodern world. The panelists were positive about the outlook.

"Postmodernism offers a greater hunger for spirituality," said Weaver. "We need to view this as an opportunity."

"People today are looking for authenticity," said Cuartas. The panelists also mentioned society's bent toward social justice and the opportunity for Christians to model compassion and Christ-like love through social reform.

The second topic covered how Christians should approach Islam while recognizing the value of individual Muslims, and how to reach this faith group effectively.

"There is a lot of naivety about Islam in America," said Weaver. He encouraged the audience to not be afraid to engage the Muslims they encounter. "Muslims love to talk," he said.

Prakash noted that Muslim women are often the center of influence in their homes. "Change begins at home," she said. "The [women] know the Gospel; they need to see it lived out."

Chandler stressed that Muslims are converting to Christianity in large numbers. "More Muslims have come to know Jesus in the last 10 years than in the history of Islam," he said. The most important thing Christians can do regarding Islam, the panelists agreed, is to become educated about the faith and culture of Muslims.

The third topic addressed Christianity's migration toward the global south, particularly in Hispanic nations. Dr. Clarke cited the estimate that by 2050, 75 percent of Christians will live in the global south. The panels responses reflected a need for global perspective and support of this movement.

"Are we putting our resources toward people who look like us or are we supporting what God is actually doing?" Marcia asked.

"This is one of the most exciting things happening in our world today," said Chandler of the worldwide diversity that is developing in Christianity.

The final topic addressed women in missions. Marcia, taking issue with the question itself, said, "Why are we more specific than men? God has called people. We need to change our mind-set."

Cuartas brought a different perspective on the issue. "The lack of fatherhood in America is amazing," he said. "I am not concerned about the role of women. I'm concerned about the role of men."

Each panelist strongly advocated support of women in missions, particularly in culturally difficult situations. "The greatest challenge for women (in missions) didn't come from Hindus or Muslims. It came from the Church," said Prakash, whose mother was an evangelist.

The Center for Global Missions officially launches Nov. 16.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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