Travel to the Windy City

Posted on September 24, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

The annual North American Mission Leaders conference and meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society is always a valuable occasion of networking with more than 300 leaders from a wide variety of institutions and mission agencies. This year’s conference being held in Chicago last week gave us the opportunity for a unique travel experience.

We often rode the train in Indonesia and other places overseas and decided the overnight Amtrak “City of New Orleans” from Jackson to Chicago would be a relaxing and nostalgic journey. The private compartment was cozy and comfortable, the elegant dinner delightful and enjoying an after-breakfast coffee in the observation car was pleasurable, but efforts to sleep made for a miserable night.

Turning the AC to the warmest setting did not change the frigid air blowing into our tiny enclave. Once the beds were turned down, totally occupying our space, claustrophobia set in. There was no room to undress except flat on your back. The constant rocking and jerking along with overnight stops defied all efforts to slip into snooze mode. I finally went to the neighboring coach, found an empty recliner in order to capture a few zzzz’s.

The conference in the Windy City (and it was, with morning temperatures in the 40s) was sponsored by EMS and Mission Nexus, a consolidation of the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies and IFMA. The program and break-out discussion groups focused on “adjusting missionary methods to today’s realities. An outstanding array of speakers included Patrick Fung, president of OMF from Singapore, Paul Nyquist, president of Moody Bible Institute and former head of Avant Ministries, and Patrick Johnstone (pictured). Patrick in the renowned researcher that periodically publishes “Operation World” and has worked closely over the years with the IMB’s Global Research Department.

It was also a delight to be present to witness my long-time friend, Dr. David Hesselgrave receive the lifetime achievement award. Hesselgrave, who is now 88, is a former missionary and head of missions at Trinity Divinity School, author, and founder of the Evangelical Missiological Society.

One of my primary purposes in going to Chicago, in addition to seeing friends and colleagues from other mission organizations, was to maintain the exhibit for the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies and acquaint mission leaders with the resources and training available for churches and missionaries committed to witness among Muslims. The Zwemer Center, started 35 years ago at the U.S. Center for Missions is Pasadena, California, is well known among mission leaders. Information about renewed programs and training was well-received and encouraging.

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