By Amy Robertson
ozens of Briercrest College and Seminary students committed their lives to missions at 28:19, Briercrest College and Seminary’s annual missions conference, held on campus September 30-October 2.
They were responding to an impassioned invitation from Dr. Solomon Aryeetey, the conference’s plenary speaker. Aryeetey, a medical doctor, spent eight years as a missionary in the desert of Mali before founding Pioneers – Africa and serving as the organization’s director.
He began the conference Thursday morning by emphasizing the immediate relevance of missions.
According to Aryeetey, some believe we are in a “post-Christian era”—but “there is nothing ‘post’ about our Jesus,” he said.
“Yesterday, today, and forever, Jesus Christ remains the same.”
We are, however, post legacy, he said—that is, we’ve denied the legacy of prayer and revival our ancestors left us.
Aryeetey called the North American missionaries who travelled to West Africa in the19th and 20th centuries his “heroes.”
Why? Because West Africa used to be known as the “White Man’s Grave,” he said. Missionaries were told they would die of AIDS and malaria (many of them did)—and they went anyway. Aryeetey credits them with the birth of the African church—and he believes that Christians today must renew their commitment to missions and be willing to deny themselves just like the missionaries who went before them.
“God wants to be the only thing that matters in your entire life,” he said, his loud, rich baritone echoing throughout the Hildebrand Chapel.
“We can’t live on the glories of the past.”
“If we are looking for a goal to attain ... I suggest that that goal is becoming like Jesus.”
Aryeetey pointed to Matthew 9:35, in which Jesus went through the towns teaching and healing.
“We cannot enjoy the Christian life until we give our lives away so others can enjoy Christ,” he said.
“Briercrest College and Seminary: If you don’t have missions in your DNA, you have no right to call yourselves a Christian institution.”
“If we really understood our mission, we would be transforming our churches into hospitals for sin-sick souls.”
That mission? Working with God to reconcile the world back to Him. Aryeetey then issued his invitation to listeners to commit themselves to missions—and dozens streamed to the front of the chapel.
Conference attendees heard about the importance of missions in several other ways throughout the weekend.
Missions representatives from WEC International, Cross Training, Pioneers, and Canadian Revival Fellowship shared about their ministries. Briercrest’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages faculty did a presentation on missions and English teaching, and several Briercrest students shared reports about recent mission-oriented trips they’d taken to the Congo, China, Afghanistan, the Pacific Rim, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan, Central Asia, and Regina (Sask.).
“It’s been really good,” said Chelsea Kooistra, a college student who attended the conference.
“It’s been challenging and been really good to be reminded by the various speakers about the importance of missions and why we do missions and how that could be part of my interactions with people while I’m (at Briercrest).”
Kooistra said she’d particularly appreciated a presentation by Dr. Jean Barsness, a former Briercrest professor who currently works for CrossTraining.
Barsness was a missionary in Panama in the 1970s before rebels murdered her husband in 1974. She came to Briercrest shortly afterward and stayed to teach for 26 years.
Her seminar was called “Why Should We Care?”
Kooistra said she was struck by the fact that Barsness called Christians “debtors.” She explained that Christians have a responsibility to share the Gospel because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
For more news about this year’s 28:19, visit our campus news archives.