Another Road Trip

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

We are home after another road trip last week which included engagements in East Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. Now it is crunch time for getting the Christmas shopping done and and decorating the tree. We always have intentions of shopping early but usually are among those who wait until the final days.

Driving home westward on I-20 yesterday afternoon enabled us to enjoy a spectacular sunset along the way. This had been one of the occasions for traveling to Columbia International University to confer with administration and plan with the staff of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. In addition to efforts to increase enrollment in the Muslim Studies degree program in the College of Inter-cultural Studies, we anticipate developing practical forums and seminars for understanding and reaching Muslims, the current cutting-edge challenge of fulfilling the Great Commission overseas and witnessing in the context of growing pluralism in American society.

We began initiatives to digitize the more than 7,000 journals, papers and articles to enhance research and make these resources available electronically, and planned promotion for the the flagship of the Zwemer program, the Summer Institute. Three week-long intensive courses, featuring world-renown adjunct teachers will be offered for credit as well as for interested non-credit participants July 6-20, 2012. In addition to the courses the institute provides opportunity for missionary practitioners to dialogue and learn from each other. Courses next year include:

Islam through Christian and Muslim Eyes, July 2-6

The Spirit World of Islam, July 9-13

Approaches to Muslims, July 16-20

One of our primary initiatives is to develop training modules for local churches for understanding and building relationships with Muslims moving into our cities and communities. There is little understanding of Muslim worldviews and an unfortunate reticence for initiating relationships and ministries that can open the door to a positive sharing of our faith.

Our road trips in retirement provide the margin for visiting with friends and family along the way. It was a joy to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle, Jim and Virginia Taylor, and participate in a missions emphasis at their church, Parkway Baptist, in Auburn, Alabama. Virginia is the youngest sibling of my mother; since her age is closer to mine than my mother’s we have always been close and enjoyed our times together.

Enroute to South Carolina we enjoyed the afternoon with John and Glenn Ingouf in Decatur, Alabama. We met John and Glenn, veteran missionaries to Indonesia before we left for the field in 1970. They mentored us in those early years of adjustments and John later served as my associate area director when I moved into a field leadership role.

Each of their three children have served as missionaries. Julie is serving in Central Asia, and John David is now in the U.S. living nearby. Daughter Susan is married to Todd Lafferty, Strategy Leader for the South Asian Peoples affinity group; they are on stateside assignment in Decatur, so it was a joy to catch up with them and what God is doing in that part of the world where we served for many years.

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