It was Wednesday morning and Johnson University’s customary 9 a.m. chapel groups were beginning. A group of around 30 students had gathered in the Eubanks Activity Center’s lower level lounge area to hear Johnson Alumnus and long-term missionary to Jordan, Matt Nance speak about what personal qualities are necessary in intercultural ministry.
“If you don’t have healthy relationships with people here, you’re not going to have healthy relationships with people on the field,” Nance said, echoing a sentiment often emphasized by the Intercultural Studies program.
The day’s meeting consisted of two chapel groups: the campus chapter of the International Justice Mission, and the student-led, mission-focused Harvesters.
Several minutes into Nance’s talk, Harvesters president Tate Abernathy discreetly entered the room with boxes from Dunkin Donuts. He later thanked Nance for his presentation while inviting everyone present to partake in the breakfast pastries.
Following chapel, I sat and munched on a coconut-crusted donut while talking with Abernathy about Harvesters’ mission as a campus organization.
“The purpose of Harvesters is to promote awareness of, prayer for, connection to and partnership with global missions among the student body,” Abernathy said, listing the four major functions of the organization.
Harvesters emphasizes awareness, prayer, connection and partnership by sponsoring events and gatherings that place focus on these values.
Each year, Harvesters selects missionaries to receive Johnson’s chapel offering, emphasizing partnership, but exhibiting the other three functions as well. This year, students have raised over $9,000 in support of Nick and Amanda Dunn and their ministry in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through partnership with the Dunns, interaction takes place not only on a financial level, but on a spiritual and mental level as well. Students commit to pray for the couple and even send messages of encouragement. In return, the Dunns have recorded video updates on the progress of their ministry.
In addition to partnership Harvesters provides an opportunity for connection to those on the mission field by sponsoring trips to the International Conference on Missions, and hosting people like Matt Nance to speak in chapel. These interactions help students to gauge their own potential calling to ministry.
“It’s providing those kinds of opportunities where students can just have short-term, non-committal, face-to-face pouring into with current missionaries,” Abernathy said.
Harvesters also seeks to engage the student body in the prospect of missions by raising awareness at events like last semester’s Giant Paint by Numbers, which presented information about various mission fields, and by encouraging prayer at events like Ignite, an all-night prayer meeting that took place this semester.
As the Intercultural Studies program seeks to prepare students for missions, Harvesters supplements the program by immersing students in the concept of serving Christ through relationship.