Henderson, Tennessee – (Oct. 5, 2023) – Missionaries from across the globe became honored guest speakers at Freed-Hardeman University Sept. 13-14 for the school’s annual Missions Emphasis Days. A program that is held each fall semester, Missions Emphasis Days aim to expose the entire student body to the concept of missions and seek to develop interest and involvement in missionary work.
Dr. Richard England, who currently serves as the executive director of French African Christian Education (also known as F.A.C.E.), introduced one session with a plea for students to consider stepping out of their comfort zones and into the world. “If you’ve never traveled outside of the U.S., I encourage you to do so,” England said.
This year’s visiting missionaries were Wayne and Kristi Parker of the Pacific Islands of Micronesia, Les and Sara Taylor of Japan, Barry Baggott of French World Outreach and Inoussa Adjay of Benin, French Africa. FHU students had multiple opportunities to hear from speakers of their choice over the two-day period as they were offered various sessions in Ayers Auditorium (located in the Brown-Kopel Business Center building), chapel programs in Loyd Auditorium, special ladies’ sessions in the Gardner Center and even presentations at local congregations.
Baggott, a former missionary to Africa who now works with French World Outreach out of Nashville, told listening students that his goal was to “inspire [them] to take up missionary work.” He admitted that this kind of work is difficult, and taking it on is a decision that should not be taken lightly. But, despite the fears and hardships, such work is necessary and worthwhile. “Our job is to go and make disciples of all nations,” Baggott said. Learn more about French World Outreach at frenchworldoutreach.org.
Adjayi serves as the director of the Bible Training Center in Zinvie, Benin, and works in partnership with F.A.C.E. for the mission of winning French-speaking Africa for Christ. Adjayi and England informed students about the challenges and rewards of this work. The Benin Bible Training Center has been in operation since 1995 and has trained and graduated more than 200 aspiring evangelists. Their 18-acre campus is self-sustaining, with a garden for growing vegetables and facilities for raising pigs and chickens, and also contains student housing with running water and electricity.
The work in Benin has its own unique challenges, such as ministering to people who don’t read or write well, but it also has many advantages, such as a “government [who] understands the value of Christianity” and little-to-no religious persecution. Adjayi and England invited students to learn more about F.A.C.E. and to apply for internships if they have interest in getting involved. Learn more about F.A.C.E. at frenchafricanmissions.com.
FHU junior Makenna Minor, who is considering a minor in missions, was inspired to learn more about the work in Africa after these presentations. Besides leading a mission trip to Arizona over spring break of 2023, she has been on multiple foreign trips herself, most recently with her father to Durban, South Africa. Minor called this an “amazing” and “life-changing” experience.
Wayne and Kristi Parker, along with their four children, spent six years in the Federated States of Micronesia and Guam and are now serving as Missionaries in Residence on the FHU campus. In his session with students, Parker highlighted the passage from Romans 12:9-16 while sharing photos from his family’s work in the field. Parker’s message centered on how one can live out verses that ask us to “Love one another with brotherly affection,” “Rejoice in hope,” “Bless those who persecute you” and “Live in harmony with one another.”
The messages of the various speakers made a strong impact on many of their student listeners. Senior Shaun Smith left one session meaningfully considering his future. “I’ve always thought about going on a mission trip, so I’m going to keep the idea in prayer,” Smith said.
“Whether the work is done abroad or closer to home, Missions Emphasis Days aim to inspire all Christians to share God’s love with the world around them,” concluded Dr. Kevin Moore, director of missions studies.
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.