Criswell College affirms missions emphasis with Great Commission Week

DALLAS—Criswell College hosted 37 representatives of 17 missions organizations on campus during Great Commission Days, March 24-25, part of the school’s annual Great Commission Week.

Missions organizations set up booths and representatives spoke in classes, said Bobby Worthington, Criswell professor and director of applied ministry.

Great Commission chapel services enriched the weeklong event. On Tuesday, March 25, Daniel Punnose, vice president of Gospel for Asia, was the featured chapel speaker. Aaron Meraz, Criswell assistant professor of church planting and revitalization, addressed students and faculty at Thursday’s chapel service, March 27. A luncheon with students and faculty followed.

Criswell connections with Gospel for Asia are long standing. Punnose is the son of Gospel for Asia founder K.P. Yohannan, the first international student to attend and graduate from Criswell College. Invited to the school by W.A. Criswell himself, Yohannan was also ordained by Criswell at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Worthington said.

“Both Dr. Yohannan and I remember the profound effect Dr. Criswell had upon our lives and ministries during our student days at Criswell College,” Worthington said.

In addition to Gospel for Asia, missions organizations represented this year at Criswell’s Great Commission Days included: Camino Global, Child Evangelism Fellowship of Dallas, East-West Ministries International,  Global English Institute, Gospel for Muslims, NEXT Worldwide, Our Calling, SIM USA, SBTC church planting team, Time to Revive, InFaith, Young Life, Reconciliation Outreach, SBTC student evangelism, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement and the IMB/NAMB/SBTC for unreached people groups.

As with Punnose and Yohannan, Criswell relationships with mission groups abound and graduates were represented at the Great Commission Days. “Warren Samuels, founder of NEXT Worldwide is a Criswell graduate, as is Stan Britton of NEXT. Criswell graduate Joe Anderson serves as state director of InFaith and area director of Young Life,” Worthington said.

Missions emphasis is a Criswell hallmark.

“Criswell College has been at the forefront of providing students with training, education and experience in missions, both domestic and international,” said Scott Bridger, Criswell assistant professor of world Christianity.

The college has participated in the IMB’s initiative to embrace unengaged and unreached people groups by sending students and faculty to minister in two locations in the Middle East over the past 18 months, said Bridger.

“This summer, Criswell students will be engaging this people group firsthand by providing pastor training and counsel to believers from a Muslim background. They will also conduct VBS style camps for another Muslim people group in the Middle East,” Bridger added.

The college has also sponsored mission trips to Cuba and engages in ongoing outreach activities among unreached people groups in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Bridger said.

Of the latter, Meraz noted, “Dallas-Fort Worth has become a microcosm of the world; thus it is a great training ground for world evangelization.”

Meraz will serve as director of  the new Criswell Church Planting and Revitalization Center (CPRC), an institution made possible by gifts from the SBTC, North Texas Baptist Association, NAMB and local churches.

“The CPRC will connect students to local SBTC churches and church plants, providing scholarship funds for such students as well as stipends when the students intern in the churches,” Meraz explained.

“In addition to academic training of church planting and revitalization, our students will graduate with at least two years of practical training,” Meraz said.

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