Briercrest College and Seminary is hoping a change in the format for its fall mission conference will enable more people to take in the event.
Instead of being condensed into a single weekend, the 2819 conference (named after the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19) will be spread out over the school week of September 24-28.
“The change of format is all about making this really important event accessible to all our students,” Briercrest President Dwayne Uglem said. “By weaving this into the ebb and flow of the week, I anticipate it will give all of us more opportunity to walk through what the Lord has for us together.”
Uglem is clear about the desired impact for the conference.
“To see God more clearly and then appreciate what He’s doing in our world,” the president explained. “And also confront the question of what it means to be available to participate in this work that’s happening all around. We’re always celebrating and anticipating that the Lord is going to use events like this to confirm calling and to confirm some of the work that He has for us to do.”
This year’s conference will also offer a wider array of speakers.
Briercrest alumnus Michael Hack and his wife Rosemary, who are both missionaries with Operation Mobilization (OM), will each be speaking several times at 2819.
It was during Michael’s time as a college student at Briercrest that he responded to a mission opportunity which led him to his life’s career.
“Having no talent in music, dance, drama or anything, I heard of OM where they would accept anyone,” Michael said. “I signed up for three months.”
Those three months ended up being over 30 years.
“Since then I have been to more than a hundred nations,” Michael explained. “I’ve testified in numerous mosques, temples and churches, slept in ditches and deserts. I’ve worked on a leper colony and sailed on luxury liners – stayed in mansions and mud huts. I’ve gone hungry, contracted sicknesses, been stoned, clubbed, arrested and interrogated. In this all I have received more than a hundred times in return blessings from God.”
Rosemary Hack has helped to launch AIDSLink which works to alleviate poverty and empower people. On Wednesday evening she will be facilitating an event called Poverty Camp, a role playing experience which is designed to explore and confront the dynamics of poverty.
“As a culture whose god is money, North Americans are great at throwing money at problems, believing that makes them go away,” Uglem explained. “I think we need to back away from that idolatry a little bit and wrestle to say ‘Let’s understand the issues of poverty a bit more. They’re not as simple as just the lack of money.’”
Gord Sawatzky, who has worked in a variety of ministries focusing on East Africa for the past 30 years, will share some of his own journey and some of the misconceptions that exist about missions in Africa.
“It is an amazing privilege to be invited by African leadership to walk with their champions as God raises up a whole new generation of African missionaries,” Sawatzky said. “It is refreshing and challenging to join Father in what He is doing as He reaches out to reconcile a broken African world to Himself. I can’t think of anything else that I would rather do with the rest of my life.”
Marie Ens, A retired missionary who is the founder of Place of Rescue Cambodia, will speak Friday morning about ministering to those without hope. Ens’ ministry cares for over 400 orphans (many orphaned due to AIDS) in addition to AIDS patients, elderly women who have been abandoned and unwed teens who need a safe environment to have their baby. Fourteen of the Cambodian children are currently travelling with Ens across Canada and will perform a cultural dance at the conference.
“Marie and her staff are living out James 1:27 every day in Cambodia as they “care for widows and orphans in their distress,” Uglem exclaimed.
Additional sessions during the week will provide time to focus on prayer for missions, interacting with the missionaries as well as hearing from Briercrest students about their own mission internship experiences.
September 29 and 30 will be dedicated to an Alumni Celebration.
More information about the week’s activities can be found at the 2819 website: www.briercrest.ca/2819