God is a good God. He brings people into our lives that matter and remain. 10 years ago I met one of these authors; the other I met 3 years ago. Both will be in my life in some way shape or form hopefully for as far as the future goes.
Dr. Shane Parker, who now teaches in Pennsylvania, and I were seminary students at SEBTS together. We worked DNOWs together and served as part of different Centrifuge staffs. I love his wife and kids are precious. I love Shane’s humility, heart for the church and missions, and his love for his family. Shane would clearly rank in the top 10 guys I know in my life. Thank you Shane.
Dr. Michael Wilder, associate Dean in the School of Church Ministries at Southern in Louisville, was one of my bosses while I worked there from 2007-2010. Couple things I appreciated about him: he treated me as an equal and not as a secretary – he cared about my opnions and believes in the gifts and talents God has given me. He loves his family. He loves to cook (and is a good one).
The only two things about either one of these guys that I don’t care for is their choice of college football teams: South Carolina and Georgia, respectively. But, we all have our faults.
This new book by both of them is not one of those faults. I loved hearing them talk about this book in the office and hear their passion for what they were learning. Now that you know a little about the authors – let’s work on the book.
TransforMission (great title by the way) is about the impact of short term mission trips on the lives of youth (student ministry) and how it can be a sanctifying agent in their lives and in the ministry as a whole. This title is seen clearly throughout the book as they keep their goal insight and never leave it behind.
If you aren’t a statistician (like me), I ask that you persevere through the first chapters. The authors do a skilled job at providing the reader with tons of research, well-done research, broad and indepth research on short term missions and churches.
Here is where I think Wilder and Parker excel:
1. My favorite part of the book is definitely the personal stories that each of them tell by some time each of them have spent on the mission field. I saw this book put in action by the telling of those stories. I had heard them both before – but seeing them written anchored that truth to me – the gospel is for the World – and these two men breathe this.
2. They keep their goal in mind. In all 200+ pages of TransforMission I never wonder why I am reading it. They know that mission trips, however long they might be, serve youth by changing their Americanized culture mindset and giving them a look at the world God created for His glory. They know that if youth pastors can give their students a view of the world – they will never be the same.
3. This book is filled with the Word. They don’t just rely on personal experience or research studies. They take it back to the infallible Word of God for the base of their study. They walk through the NT for its views and emphasis on sanctification. It was neat to see how different books of the NT had a different focus on sanctification. You can clearly see they hold the Word as their authority.
4. TransforMission has clear guidelines on how to do this. I think this book would be very useful in a seminary classroom or for a youth pastor who is fighting upstream at getting the other staff/parents at his church to see the importance of taking his students across the world. I once heard a seminary prof/pastor/friend say that it is not dangerous to send your kids overseas – it is dangerous not to. What he meant by that is it is harming your students if you allow them to stay chained to this weak American culture Christianity and never see what God is doing in the world. Videos and biographies can only do some much. My trip to SE Asia in 2005 helped shape me (you can read about it on page 64 in TransforMission, my first published writing). To see college students lives changed by seeing the devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami and the cold lies of the Islamic religion – and then to see some of those very students give their lives over the past years to serve over there – giving up (even for a short time) the American dream of getting a great job right out of college, getting married, owning their home…was humbling and causes me to praise Christ.
If you are involved at all in missions, discipleship, youth ministry, college ministry – you would be wise to pick up this book. This will help strengthen your argument for short term missions. My first one was in the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. I’m so thankful for Tommy Warnock at FBC Plant City who had a vision to take high school students to Gatlinburg TN and let us experience teaching kids the gospel. Then to Charleston, Costa Rica, Alaska, Russia, SE Asia, Thailand, New York City. Let me go back, Lord. Keep opening the doors.
I hope by reading this book you are compelled to proceed with getting your students and self overseas – no matter for what length of time.
So, when’s the next plane leave RDU?
“Firsthand exposures to the realities, people, and impact of a life lived on mission can enable the participant to get his hands dirty in genuine missions environments. In this way, contact through short-term mission is one gateway of seeing our world and our commission more clearly.” (p 46)
“We have realized that for students to become true disciples, they must themselves become concerned and active disciplers of the nations. If this generation will be influenced and developed toward, engaged in, and assessed for growth unto a global vision and life, God will raise them up to change the lives of whole tribes, communities, and nations.” (p 237)