A Week at CIU

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

We have just spent a delightful week at Columbia International University in South Carolina, primarily to teach a summer intensive course in the College of Inter-Cultural Studies and to convene a meeting of the Advisory Board of the Zwemer Center of Muslim Studies. My time on campus over the years has been to attend a CIU board of trustee meeting three times a year and drop in for occasional consultation with the Zwemer staff in the midst of other travel. It was a privilege to be the commencement speaker at graduation last year and to lead their missions emphasis week years ago.

Teaching this graduate level course on Spiritual Warfare and Missions was one of the most gratifying experiences since retiring almost two years ago. I thought these courses were called “intensives” because the 3-hour course was compressed into one week. However, I discovered teaching 40 hours from 8:00 to 5:00 each day was not only intensive but exhausting. The challenge of the demanding schedule was offset by the delightful interaction of missionaries, missionary candidates and other seminary students who were totally engaged in the learning process.

I continue to be impressed with the uniqueness of CIU, formerly Columbia Bible College and Seminary. The name was changed to better identify its university structure but also to give a more neutral identity of transcripts on behalf of the many graduates serving as missionaries around the world. In recent years as many as 40% of the graduates go into overseas missions and 30% more into various areas of mission work in the U.S. Degrees in education, counseling and business equip others from a biblical worldview for marketplace ministries.

The uniqueness of CIU is the focus on a passion for world evangelization and spiritual growth. The prayer towers in a wooded area of the campus (pictured) highlights the emphasis on prayer and faith. Nurture in victorious Christian living is thoroughly integrated in a high quality academic environment throughout the undergraduate, graduate and seminary curriculum. Visible around the campus, as inscribed on the prayer towers, is the motto “To Know Him and Make Him Known.”

CIU also has the foremost Muslim Studies program to be found in higher education. While there are other schools that offer courses and even a major in Muslim Studies, the Master of Arts degree at CIU is unique for equipping students to understand Islam and relate to diverse worldviews for Christian witness. It has been a privilege to step into the role of Director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies.

In addition to the degree program, the Zwemer Center houses thousands of books and archives for research and study. The Zwemer summer institute, which began this week, brings experts in ministry and witness among Muslims to campus for three weeks of seminars and special study opportunities. This was the first time to actually convene our advisory board (pictured) representing scholars and various mission agencies to plan programs for the future.

It was encouraging to see a synergy emerge in projecting training around the world for missionaries, missionary candidates, and serve a multitude of smaller and international agencies that don’t have the resources, expertise or capacity for this themselves. Online courses are rapidly developing to make the training accessible globally and modules are being constructed to equip local churches to understand and relate to Muslim in their community. The Muslim world is the cutting edge of completing the Great Commission; it is exciting to have the opportunity to be involved in contributing to the task.

2 Comments on “A Week at CIU”

  1. Paul Coleman

    Thank you Dr. Rankin for teaching and ministering to myself and the other students in the Spiritual Warfare & Missions class. I am a young (or relatively young, 31) Southern Baptist and having you as a professor at CIU opened my eyes to so much of what God is doing in the world. I have a renewed sense of the importance of sending missionaries all over the world and supporting the International Mission Board. Spending time with you has encouraged me and deepened my love for Jesus! CIU is blessed to have you as a part of their team.

  2. Bill Jones

    Jerry, thank you for the kind words about CIU. Glad you had a great experience teaching the course on spiritual warfare.

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