Opportunities for Influence

Posted on May 14, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

In an eight-day period over the last two weeks we had gratifying opportunities for speaking and influence. The highlight was the privilege of being commencement speaker for the two of the Mississippi College spring graduation ceremonies. Since returning to Clinton we have been delighted to connect with our alma mater and participate in a number of programs, including teaching a missions class in the School of Christian Studies this semester.

Pictured in academic regalia with college president, Dr. Lee Royce, I reminded the graduates of the challenges they face in a changing and complex world. In spite of attaining academic credentials, the key to success would be whether or not they seized the opportunity in a Christian educational environment to formulate foundational values that would keep them focused and aligned with God and His will.

Just two days earlier, while attending a board meeting and conferring with the staff of the Zwemer Center for Muslims Studies, I had the opportunity to speak in the final student chapel of the semester at Columbia International University. Pictured is undergraduate dean and Hebrew scholar, Dr. Bryan Beyer preparing  to blow his shofar as students were recognized for end-of-the-year awards. I will be returning to the campus to teach a summer intensive course in the College of Inter-Cultural Studies on Spiritual Warfare and Missions.

The following week was the periodic trip back to Richmond, Virginia to participate in the training of new missionary personnel currently in orientation. My time at the International Learning Center coincided with a conference for Baptist State Executive Directors being hosted by the IMB. It was an unexpected pleasure to see these leaders with whom we had been engaged during the years of leading the mission board and enjoy meals and brief visits.

I have been asked to add a day of teaching on “Vision and Values”–presenting to these missionaries an historical overview of where we have come from, the rationale for changes over the years and the vision and values that have determined the strategy and organization of the IMB. It is always a reminder to me of God’s providence and that I had the blessing of serving in a leadership role when God chose to work in unprecedented ways to accelerate and expand our global impact for Christ.

Upon returning home I filled a commitment to take one morning to teach 100 Mississippi College students in campus leadership roles selected to attend a week-long program of leadership training. Launching the presentation from the context of my own campus activities–many, many years ago–in which I learned personal discipline, multi-tasking, commitment to excellence and the necessity of prioritizing, I stressed these and other leadership skills were equipping for life. Leading and influencing others toward an organizational objective was short-lived fulfillment if it did not contribute to the empowerment and growth of others.

After an exhausting but gratifying week in three states, Bobbye and I were ready for a long, relaxing weekend at home while preparing to travel to Denver next week for a mentoring workshop co-sponsored by World Venture and Operation Mobilization. Being at home we were able to attend the funeral of missionary colleage Fran Buckley in Picayune, MS. Fran was a colleague who, with her husband R. T. served many years in Bangladesh.

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