I teach in many settings, both in churches and classrooms. A new one for me this fall is the Wheaton College Graduate School, where I have become an adjunct professor of evangelism this year. It is an opportunity that I cherish and one that will challenge and inspire me I am quite sure.
I met my fall class in apologetics for evangelism for the first time on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. at the Billy Graham Center. The Wheaton M. A. program in evangelism has been recently redesigned and is thus being re-established this fall. For this reason I have only six students in this first class. This in itself will allow unusual opportunity for relationships and real learning. After meeting my students yesterday I believe I will be the one who is actually learning the most over the next few months.
My students come from Maine, Ohio, Washington, Connecticut, Chicago and the Bahamas. One student, perhaps two, intend to invest their lives in evangelizing Muslims. Another, a Haitian, is already a thirty-five year old full-time evangelist in Nassau who grew up in a home where both parents were evangelists! Another is the child of Korean missionaries to the United States who have served for many years in faithful witness to students at the University of Chicago. This particular student was preparing for medical school until God called her to evangelism, thus her new studies and pursuit. One student just completed a music degree from Wheaton College and is considering the next direction God has for her life. Still another student was converted at Dartmouth College, through studying the novels of the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), and is the only believer in her New England family. She has a passion to know Christ better and to make him known as widely as God will allow.
After introducing my course, giving an overview of what we are reading and studying together this quad (half term), I just listened to my students tell their story. I felt nothing but incredible joy that I, a baby boomer from a little town in Tennessee, get to know these serious Christians over the coming months. I asked one student to end our first class in prayer and my heart was again deeply moved as I reflected upon the joys that lie ahead for all of us. If you pray for me and this ministry please add this class to your prayer list for the next two and a half months. I think there are some serious kingdom builders in this group. I only hope I can be a small part of their learning curve and help them to develop a deeper love for Christ and his gospel.
I will write more about the content of my course in another entry. Our goal is to survey the field for a few weeks and then look at some basic workable models for "the defense and propogation of the faith" through contemporary writers, predominantly the late Lesslie Newbigin, truly one of the most important voices for mission and evangelism in our lifetime. I never get enough of Lesslie Newbigin. I hope my class falls in love with his work as he will give them serious fuel for passion and faithfulness that will last for a lifetime.