Giving up small ambitions for others

While in India on his way to Japan, new missionary Francis Xavier wrote back to his
fellow students: “Give up your small ambitions.”

Giving up one’s “small” ambitions and getting in tune with God’s heart for the world is usually what happens when one embraces SNU’s missions ethos. Sometimes, people are tempted to think that missions activity at SNU is a great -- but very much optional -- dessert. It’s not; missions involvement is part of SNU’s main course. For President Gresham, it’s such a crucial part of what we do that he talks of finding a way to make significant cross-cultural experience a graduation requirement.

A few semesters ago I was trying to talk an SNU student into going on “Commission Unto Mexico.” The more I pushed and cajoled, the more he backed away. Finally, in exasperation, he said to me, “Missions is your thing; it’s just not mine.”

He was wrong, of course. Missions isn’t “my” thing; it’s God’s thing. As Henry Martyn, a missionary to China, often said, “The nearer we get to Christ, the more intensely missionary we must become.”

This year SNU students have a variety of ways to get involved. October is recruitment
time for Youth in Mission, a summer-long ministry experience. For the last two summers, YIM has involved 30 of our students. In late December, Commission Unto Mexico, a mission trip that may have 175-200 participants, occupies the SNU calendar. We’ll leave Bethany the day after Christmas for a delightful week-long adventure in Monterrey, one of Mexico’s major northern cities.

During our March spring break there will be a mission trip to Sicily led by Larry Hess. At the same time, Dr. Doug Samples will lead one to Spain. After graduation next spring (as well as after winter graduation in December) some SNU students will leave for year-long volunteer assignments around the globe.

As new students arrive at SNU, I hope it quickly becomes clear to them that missions
involvement is not something expected only of the super-zealous or of the extraordinarily talented. In early July, Jessica Bohn e-mailed me from her Youth in Mission assignment in the Caribbean: “I don’t have much to offer, but God is taking my willingness and moving mightily.”

Don’t be one of those who get an SNU diploma and move into a career, graduate school or family life without ever participating in one of our missions thrusts. Don’t graduate from here without a photo album full of delightful pictures of little children whose language you do not know all crowded around you making faces at the camera. Don’t be content to graduate from here, having merely talked about the church’s responsibility for the poor and alienated. Get involved in doing something. Craig Sheppherd, who graduated from here and then gave a year of volunteer service to Croatia, recently wrote, “Don’t lose the [missions]
focus.”

SNU offers a variety of opportunities for you to “give up your small ambitions.” I hope you’ll take advantage of them.