From CIU to the Nations

February 27, 2015

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

Columbia International University students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to find their unique place in God’s mission during World Christian Week, Feb. 23-26.  The week featured special chapel services, visits from missionary representatives, international-themed events for students, and a day of prayer, all designed to help students understand and pursue their place in God’s mission.

The week began with a chapel message from CIU alumnus David Gentino, who now pastors Columbia Presbyterian Church after serving as missionary to India for 18 months.  Gentino encouraged students to pursue Christ before vocation, and to spread the gospel wherever they may be.

“The idols of vocation and reputation, and where I’ve been, and what I’ve done become idols that threaten to strangle me to death,” Gentino said.  “The question of what I do takes a huge backseat to the question of Who I serve.”

Tuesday’s chapel featured Kevin King, who is the president of New York City International Project.  King spoke on how the global migration of peoples has affected the spread of the gospel: because people from many nations are migrating to America, many nations can be reached locally.

“I loved all of the different chapels,” freshman Heather Hoopes said.  “The speakers had some really neat backgrounds, and were able to remind me of some information related to missions, such as the fact that the nations are coming to us.”

Matt Thompson, who owns and operates a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Duncan, South Carolina, spoke Wednesday and encouraged students to pursue vocational ministry, whether in the marketplace or a Christian ministry.

International students led worship music throughout the week, singing songs in their own languages.  Students enjoyed worship in Spanish, French, and Swahili in addition to English. 

World Christian Week also featured two “Global Connect Nights,” where students and visiting missionary representatives came together to enjoy international food, fellowship, and international-themed games.

“One thing that I enjoyed about World Christian Week was the global connects,” graduate student Zac Seymour said.  “I was able to interact and converse with a host of mission reps and get to know them and pray with them during those times of fun and fellowship.”

The week concluded on Thursday with a prayer day.  CIU alumnus Robbie McAlister, who pastors Riverbend Community Church in Lexington, South Carolina, began the day with a message titled “Serving Christ Over a Lifetime,” and encouraged students to pursue Christ, who is supremely valuable.

 “Jesus Christ is worth everything over a lifetime, and even more,” McAlister said.

Prayer day continued as students hosted themed prayer stations in Moore Fitness Center, where students, faculty, and staff prayed over various topics, including sports ministry, the persecuted church, and unsaved friends and family members.

“[One] thing that I enjoyed about this week was the prayer session in the gym where students, faculty and staff alike were joined together before the throne of God in intercession,” Seymour said.  “Observing the plethora of individuals join together in prayer over different topics, passions, and needs was super exciting and thrilling.”

The week concluded with a panel discussion and a time for prayer and worship on Thursday afternoon.  The chapel speakers, as well as CIU Intercultural Studies professor Dr. David Cashin, answered students’ questions delivered via text messages regarding their place in the mission of God.

“Not everybody follows the same path,” McAlister said during the discussion. “You really need to seek the Lord and hear from him clearly.”

As World Christian Week came to a close, CIU students were able to reflect on the week and on their place in the mission of God.

“I think that the biggest takeaway was the reminder that we can still share God's love here in Columbia, too, not just across the ocean!” Hoopes said.

Hear the World Christian Week Chapel messages at: http://podcast.ciu.edu/.

See photos from World Christian Week at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciuimpact/sets/72157648749989733/