How “Out-of-State” Cooperative Program Missions Dollars Are Connecting Arkansas College Students to the World
By Lynn Loyd, Missions Consultant for the ABSC Collegiate + Young Leaders Team
I love the Olympics! The competition, the drama, the sportsmanship and the back stories of the athletes keep me up too late at night. The symbol of the Olympics is the image of the five interlocking rings, which represent the five inhabited continents, on a white background. These six colors are present on the national flags of all the world.
Just like the symbol of the interlocking rings, not one of these national athletes has made it to this level of competition by themselves. It has been a cooperative effort of family, communities, coaches, and governments. No successful global effort can be reached without cooperative sacrifice and effort.
There’s a lesson here for missions efforts. Out-of-state missions dollars refers to funds which are used by Arkansas Baptists to connect Arkansas college students and churches with International Mission Board missionaries in foreign countries. This connection results in partnerships to unreached people groups, greater giving to missions needs both directly and to the state through Lottie Moon offerings, and many students going back to serve short term or career. All this missions effort is made possible through the Cooperative Program, the pooled resources of Southern Baptists giving to missions though their local churches.
Here are five interlocking rings which enable the College + Young Leaders Team to help college students to go out of state to all the world.
Ring one is through Cooperative Program (CP) education.
Prior to each international missions trip, Ryan Scantling, Baptist Collegiate Minister for University of Central Arkansas in Conway, conducts a CP training seminar. Each student is challenged to know how much their church gives to the CP. Ryan helps them calculate and map where their church is giving, and in addition, their personal giving goes through cooperative ministries in Arkansas and across the world.
Ryan tells his students, “You only get to go because there are missionaries there. This is how we support them and provide ministry for their needs.” CP training before a student leaves on his or her trip builds a greater appreciation and awareness of how we Baptists work together for all the world.
Ring two is through short-term trips.
These trips could be from four days to three weeks in length during Christmas break, spring break, and early summer. Christmas in China (CIC) is an example of a short-term trip with long-term results. Each Christmas break nearly 200 college students from across the country give up their Christmas to tell other college students the real meaning of Christmas.
Josh Mauldin at FBC Fayetteville has helped mobilize CIC teams for the past six years. Josh says, “When students take part in (something like) CIC, they experience God's global purpose for the Gospel in unique ways, and that often leads to lifelong change that impacts not only short-term trips overseas, but everyday missions right where they live.”
Ring three is Nehemiah Teams.
Nehemiah Teams are eight- to 10-week experiences in discipleship, church planting, and evangelism. This year, 177 college students, 16 from Arkansas, were spread over the vast expanse of southeast Asia and east Asia. Nehemiah Team students are called to go to the hard-to-reach and the unreached peoples. Jess Jennings, Director of Nehemiah Teams, says, “We want to pass down to the next generation that geography is not and should not be a barrier to the Gospel.” C.J., a Nehemiah Team member from south Arkansas, expressed his experience this way: “The biggest thing that God showed me this summer was through the missionary I worked with. He showed us how to make disciples and plant churches!”
Ring four is global partnerships with the Arkansas Baptist Missions Team.
For the past eight years, Bob Fielding, ABSC Mission Team staff, has provided college students the opportunity to connect in ministry to IMB families overseas. Some of these connections are resulting in long-term partnerships. Mike Sandusky, BCM Campus Minister at Southern Arkansas University, says, “We had a great connection with the missionaries that we worked with. We are planning on sending a team of college students just to work with them. Now this couple is on stateside assignment, and they are coming to speak at our church. I am hoping that my church will also partner with them.”
Ring five is International Student Ministry (ISM) leaders in Arkansas.
There are over 5,100 international students studying in the state of Arkansas. Several churches, associations, and Baptist Collegiate Ministries are engaged in the task of welcoming and serving these visitors. The world is at our doorstep, and so many of these students are from the hard-to-reach and unreached peoples of the world and could return to their countries as ambassadors for Christ.
Bit Stephens, BCM Metro in Little Rock, shares this story of one of her former students who became a believer after four years of college in Arkansas. “After J moved back to his home country, he was able to be an interpreter for a team that I led to his country. J not only was able to assist us, but we connected him with IMB personnel in his country. He helped us share the Gospel with a different people group in his home country.”
Out of state to all the world.
The Cooperative Program has an amazing reach and impact. It personally connects our college students with missionaries. It changes lives and world perspectives. CP is helping complete the Great Commission with this generation.