Spreading God's Message Around The World
Although Baylor is the largest Baptist university in the world, it should not be assumed that all Baylor students are aware of the need for missionaries around the world. Begun in 1983 at Baylor, Missions Week continues to herald the message about missionaries to Baylor students, helping assure that many students are aware of the opportunity they have to minister through missions work.
According to Baylor's Baptist Student Ministries, missionary opportunities allow students to connect their faith with their academic studies: "The tangible opportunity to serve others through their academic discipline will allow students to reflect on how and where they will use the skills gained at Baylor and how God might use them to make a difference in the world."
Recently, Lynn A. and Jacqueline S. Harmon of Warrensburg, Mo., established a fund to permanently endow Missions Week at Baylor.
"I think this is one of the best investments we could make," Mrs. Harmon explained. "Missions Week is an opportunity to reach out into the campus community. There is an impact on the students and their decision to enter mission work."
Although both graduates of the University of Missouri, the Harmons came to love Baylor when their daughter, Shanna Harmon O'Donnell, attended the university and was actively involved in the Baptist Student Union during her time on campus. Shanna, who graduated from Baylor in 1990, served as chairman of Missions Emphasis Week one year and went on several mission trips while she was a student.
Shanna may have introduced her parents to Baylor's missions programs, but the Harmons were already familiar with both missions and giving back to important causes. The couple utilized a unique approach when deciding to endow Missions Week at Baylor -- they structured their large lead gift as a challenge grant intended to motivate the university to raise additional support to fully fund Missions Week.
"The challenge grant is a way to reach the objective of permanently endowing Missions Week while emphasizing an increased activity in the fundraising," Mr. Harmon explained. "We're very appreciative of Baylor accepting the challenge."
The lead gift from the Harmons will allow Baylor to increase the scope of Missions Week and have a profound impact on the entire campus through a variety of potential improvements, such as: increasing the event to include a fifth day, thus enlarging the week's influence; securing nationally recognized speakers in missions education and scholarship; and bringing to campus retired or furloughing missionaries to speak in classes, Chapel and at seminars.
Fittingly, the Harmons officially signed their endowment agreement on Oct. 8, 2004, right before the 2004 Missions Week began at Baylor on Oct. 11. The Harmons are hopeful that other Baylor alumni, friends and supporters will recognize the tremendous opportunity in Missions Week and contribute to the challenge fund.
"I hope that people can see the wealth of potential in the students," Mrs. Harmon said.
When asked why they feel it is important to give back, the Harmons expressed a sentiment that coincides well with the philosophy of missions work: "It's a matter of stewardship. As individuals, we are placed on earth for a finite period of time to do God's work, and the resources that we're allowed to work with are His," Mr. Harmon said.
"I feel that we're merely stewards of these resources to do God's work in a greater way, and that is part of our obligation."
For more information on ways you can support the endowed fund for Missions Week, contact Cathy Pleitz in Baylor University Development at 1-800-BAYLOR-U, option 4, or (254) 710-2561, or e-mail Cathy_Pleitz@baylor.edu.