“Christmas in October!” That is how missions students at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville refer to the college’s annual on-campus missions conference.
Held Oct. 10-12, the theme for this year's conference was "One Heart. One Goal. One Mission." The heart of missions was definitely on display as more than 30 missions agency representatives were in attendance. Agencies represented included various Southern Baptist entities, as well as other Great Commission partners. The guest list included agencies like Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Student Life, IMB Students, Fuge, Christian Light School, Global Outreach Mission, GAP Missions, Child Evangelism Fellowship and many more.
In addition to the open exhibit area in the BCF Wellness Center, there were various activities inviting student participation throughout the week. The keynote speaker was International Mission Board Senior Ambassador Gordon Fort, who delivered challenging and encouraging messages during the week’s chapel services. On Oct. 11, more than 55 students and guests gathered for a meet and greet and missions roundtable discussion covering topics like methodology, ministry progress and missional communities. BCF Freshman Holly Anne Noegel said, “It encouraged me, as someone who feels called to missions, to know that there is a place for me to serve.”
Faculty also invited missions representatives to share their visions and ministries in many of their classes throughout the week. Theology Professor Mark Rathel said, “To me, the missions conference is the highlight of the fall semester each year. I will gladly give up a class hour or two for our missionary guests. Their experiences and expertise can’t be found in a book or taught in a lecture. It’s a great week for everybody involved.”
As the conference drew to a close, lots of positive feedback drifted in from all corners of the campus. According to Theology Division Chair and Missions Conference Director Rich Elligson, students always enjoy the opportunity to interact with the missionaries, hear their stories and learn how they can be involved. As always, the missions representatives were very excited to be on campus and were very appreciative. According to Elligson, the representatives said that BCF sets the standard for missions fairs and conferences by offering unmatched access to students, unmatched fellowship among agencies, unmatched atmosphere and unmatched student quality.
“That’s the kind of conference we want,” Elligson said. “We want everyone to leave with something. Agency reps leave with plenty of contacts and potential workers and interns. Students leave with their own contacts and a renewed awareness of the tremendous needs around the world. And our administration, faculty and staff all leave knowing they had a part in helping to equip workers for the Kingdom.”
Elligson was quick to add that substantial student involvement helped to make the conference what it was, not only in participation, demonstrations and discussions, but also in setup and cleanup. As the decorations, world flags and displays were being dismantled, senior Missions Major Jennifer Duncan said, “This makes me sad. It feels like it does when we take down the Christmas decorations each year.” Fortunately, like Christmas, there is next year.
To learn more about the missions program or special events and conferences at The Baptist College of Florida, call 800-328-2660 or visit the website www.baptistcollege.edu.
Sandra Richards is director of enrollment management and marketing at The Baptist College of Florida.