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Gen X sessions challenge students to evangelize unreached 2 billion

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Mission strategists challenged more than 400 university students from eight western states to invest their lives in the “10/40 Window” during Beyond ’98, the annual missions conference at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., Feb. 13-15.
With its highest attendance in recent years, the event aimed university students toward service in the 10/40 Window, an area that stretches from northern Africa, through the Middle East and across southern Asia. The 10/40 designation, referring to that land mass residing between 40 degrees and 10 degrees latitude above the equator, represents more than 2,100 people groups, totaling nearly 2 billion people who have little or no access to the message of Jesus Christ.
With resource help from the Southern Baptist International Mission Board and other Great Commission organizations, Tom Wolf, who occupies the Baker James Cauthen Chair of World Missions at Golden Gate, hoped the students would give their lives to serve in the vast region.
“Beyond is the only conference of its kind in the western United States for mobilizing university students to do this,” Wolf said. “The X Generation, I believe, is the first global generation because it’s the media generation, so this should connect with them.” Generation X is a designation used for people born between 1964 and 1981.
Exuberant worship, along with drama presentations and stories from people who have lived in the 10/40 Window, filled the general sessions of the conference. Speakers included Wolf; Phil Busbee, teaching pastor of Bible Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.; and several mission strategists who work in parts of Asia where their identity must not be revealed.
“It is our unabashed, unashamed bias to reach the more than 2 billion in the 62 countries in the 10/40 Window,” said one missions strategist. “Around 95 percent of all Christian resources go where the church and the people already have a chance to hear his message, so there’s a terribly unequal distribution of resources. We’re just trying to help the distribution become more equal.”
Dozens made decisions during a Saturday night worship rally at First Baptist Church, San Francisco, to commit to global service, particularly in the 10/40 Window. Even more students committed to becoming “advocates” for specific unreached people groups, committing to pray for the groups and learn about them. Names of the people groups hung all over the historic sanctuary, and Wolf challenged the students to walk over to one of the cards, as individuals or groups, and pray for that specific group. Most of the students took the names off the wall, committing to adopt the group in prayer and perhaps future service.
“We tried to provide tangible opportunities for God to speak to them,” one of the mission strategists said. “My hope is that the students got an idea of what their next step is. For some, it’s within the next year to go overseas, or get to know an international student or be an advocate for a people group. There were several times this weekend where they could seize an opportunity. We gave them a lot of information, but we made sure there were chances to respond before they left.”
One aspect of the conference that proved meaningful for many of the students attending was a chance to pass out Bibles and other literature around San Francisco. Under the guidance of Golden Gate students, most of the conference participants traveled to the city’s Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Haight-Asbury and Castro districts to conduct prayerwalks and pass out the material.
Ashley Parker, a semester worker at First Baptist Church, Tahoe City, Calif., said it was a great way to serve God at a conference where the focus was serving God in other countries.
“Walking by the stores in Chinatown and seeing the statues of all the gods, I got to see it rather than hear about it,” she said. “One of the Golden Gate students who works at a church in the area told me that half of the Chinese don’t know what the statues mean.”
Jason Ament, a student at Bellevue (Wash.) Community College, went to the Castro district.
“If you’re not doing something that’s beyond your limits, you’re not walking by faith,” he said. “I talked to a couple of transients and transvestites. It really challenged me because I’ve never reached out to people like that before.”
But the testimonies from the overseas workers themselves moved many to consider joining them in their respective countries. One worker in northern Thailand, through worship and prayer, told of witnessing the exhaustion of spiritual power from a shaman in his tribal village. Villagers said the power of Jesus Christ was too strong for him. Another worker spoke of Christians in a people group in China who hiked many miles into another country to spread their message to others belonging to their people group. A third spoke of her struggle of talking to an Afghan woman about Jesus, and a fourth expressed the need for workers in the hundreds of villages in southern China.
“Several students told me they were glad that we had real workers and not just recruiting or administrative staff,” Wolf said. “They were hands-on practitioners.”
The workers helped the students choose a world — Hindu, Muslim, or Chinese — where they might like to serve. Others helped them map out their lifelong goals and desires to serve overseas. Golden Gate students such as Alicia Wong, a first-year master of arts in intercultural studies student, helped facilitate the groups.
“We’re meeting them where they’re at,” she said. “Watching people struggle with the decision to go overseas, I find it easy to say that some of them are here because of God’s call. They’re seeking out where God is calling them.”
Kathleen Phipps, a student at Portland (Ore.) Community College, said she feels God wants her to work with Muslims.
“He has put a lot of Muslims in my path at school,” she said. “I used to say that I wouldn’t ever want to work with them, but you never want to say never to God because he may put you there.”
Phipps said she would like to be an interpreter or teach English in Asia in the future.
“Doing stuff like that teaches you how to see through other people’s eyes,” she said. “It helps you broaden your horizons and see God in the bigger picture. I had thought for a while that I’d like to do this kind of work. I feel I’ll definitely do it now. The first night I was so broken with God, I had tears running down my face. I was learning about all the things I needed to let go of. Just step out in faith, and God will be there. That’s my life.”

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