Touching the World

Posted on November 18, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Jesus had just commissioned His disciples to be witnesses to the ends of the earth 40 days earlier. The Bible tells us that on the day of Pentecost “men from every nation under heaven were gathered in Jerusalem” (Acts 2:5), and what happened? They heard the gospel in their own language. It was if Jesus was saying, “This is what I was talking about!” They had not yet gone to the nations, but Jesus was bringing the nations to them to hear the gospel.

TouchingWorld-SaudiStudentsWe are finding increasing numbers of opportunities to connect with people from around the world right where we live. We recently connected with a Palestinian Muslim family down the street as we chatted with the older of seven children waiting for the school bus and then went back to meet the mother and father. At the corner of our street is a house with bright red trim occupied by five Chinese students. In our small town are three Japanese restaurants, two Chinese buffets and six Mexican restaurants; many of the gas stations and convenience stores are managed by South Asian Indians.

TouchingWorld-Bobbye&PakistaniGirlsWe were amazed to find that 20 new students from Saudi Arabia have enrolled at Mississippi College. Some of them are pictured at at recent International Student Festival. Asked why they chose a small Baptist college in Mississippi they explained their parents thought it would be a good moral environment for study in America. Bobbye is pictured with two friends she met from Pakistan.

We are feeling a growing tension between the opportunities for witness and ministry at home and the significant invitations for preaching, teaching and mission consultation across the country that entail travel away. One of my retirement goals to learn Spanish is still unrealized, but the Rosetta Stone course sits waiting in my study. Having traveled to countries all over the world gives us a ready identity with many of the students, but it is frustrating not to be able to converse in the native language of many laborers and their families in our community.

TouchingWorld-Bobbye&friendsThe tall blond is Kayla, a student who lives in our neighborhood and is a zealous witness for Christ. She recently led to faith in Christ the two friends pictured with Bobbye from Nepal and China. There are international students from 40 nations at MC, including almost 300 from China. Chinese students make up most of the inter-collegiate table tennis team which is probably why we have finished in the top NCAA rankings each year. It was intriguing to watch a recent tournament–a faster brand of ping pong with constant sequences of slams that I every played!

TouchingWorld-PingPongIn the spring semester I will be teaching at the college which means the necessity of curtailing travel and being at home. We are praying this will give us time to nurture relationships with these students and neighbors and enable us to touch the world from down home in Mississippi.

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