OTCS Course ‘Life and Theology of Influential Christian Missionaries’ Ignites Missionary Zeal Among Students

The spring quarter at Olivet Theological College & Seminary introduces the course “Life and Theology of Influential Christian Missionaries.” This course delves into the lives of missionaries who have left indelible marks on Christian missions from the 1700s to the late 1900s, and highlights the grace and sovereign work of God evident in the lives of missionaries, along with their character as godly men or women of faith.

Dr. Bethany Park, the primary instructor, provides contextual backgrounds and introductions to the missionaries. Each week focuses on a missionary from a specific era, accompanied by a biographical video. Students explore the mindset, strategies, successes, and failures of these missionaries by immersing themselves in their respective mission fields through readings and film screenings. The learning experience is further enriched with open discussions and sharing of reflections and questions.

By tracing the evolution of missions across different eras, students glean insights into the sovereignty of ‘Missio Dei,’ building a profound sense of hope and commitment toward fulfilling the Great Commission in contemporary times. They explore seminal works in missiology, such as “Mission Method: St. Paul’s or Ours,” fostering critical analysis and diverse perspectives on missionary endeavors. Moreover, students have access to writings and books authored by missionaries, empowering them to conduct further research on their chosen subjects.

One poignant figure explored in the course is William Carey, often referred to as ‘The Father of Modern Missions.’ Despite his renown, Carey’s life story reveals complex familial and personal struggles. Through candid discussions and reflections, students confronted Carey’s challenges and ultimately embraced a resolute dedication to mission work.

Beyond Carey, students continue to broaden their views through the lives of other missionaries, including female missionaries, who have left significant imprints on both Christian and secular spheres. Their mission work extended beyond traditional church planting to include translating for the government and more.

Dr. Park expresses her hope for this course to ignite a fervent passion for missions in each student, and for them to “open their eyes to the history of God’s kingdom in which people, cities, and countries are transformed through sacrifice.”

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