KNOXVILLE — Once a year, missionaries gather from all corners of the world, and share their experiences with each other. This gathering, the International Conference on Missions, has been a staple in the missions community since 1954.
A regular attendee, Dean of Intercultural Studies, Linda Whitmer, has been going to ICOM since 1981.
“It was much, much, much smaller,” Whitmer said. “Somebody suggested that we go because we were thinking of doing mission work, and so we did, and by the end of the weekend we had made a full-time commitment to mission work.”
Whitmer and her husband had already known they wanted to go into missions, but the atmosphere, conversations with other missionaries and community provided by ICOM gave them the final confirmation they needed.
“One-on-one conversations with people,” Whitmer said. “That was the opportunity to talk with the people we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. That made all of the difference.”
A group of Johnson students will travel to Peoria, Illinois, to attend ICOM Nov. 16-19.
The theme for ICOM this year is “Together: God’s Plan to Redeem the World,” and will include workshops, mission booths and sermons on this topic.
Now that Whitmer works as a professor and dean in the School of Intercultural Studies, her reasons for going have changed. She now attends ICOM to pour into future, and current, missionaries.
“I will be representing the school,” Whitmer said. “I’ve already had quite a few people e-mail me asking for appointments or lunch meetings who have questions about the programs we have here.”
Whitmer said this is a great opportunity for Johnson students to acquire necessary connections and information if they wish to become involved with the work in missions.
“Johnson students should go if they have any interest in missions or cross-cultural work at all,” Whitmer said. “Because, this is the opportunity to build relationships, develop contacts, in a concentrated variety that they probably will not find anywhere else.”
Students may register for $10 at icom.com/register and should contact Sally Folden at Sfolden@johnsonu.edu to sign up for transportation and housing. Transportation is $30, and housing for students is free.