This year’s Global Mission Week hosted three keynote speakers in chapel sessions. Dr. Coz Crosscombe, director of the Urban Ministry First Year Program; Gabriel Wang Herrera, lead pastor of By Grace Alone Church in Philadelphia; and Susan Post, executive director of Esperanza Health Center in North Philadelphia.
Cairn University held its annual Global Mission Week from January 29–February 2, 2018. This ongoing tradition, rooted in the University’s mission statement, continues to transform how students view the world and serve the people in it according to biblical principles. This year’s theme was “The World at Our Doorstep.” Often, Global Mission Week focuses on foreign continents and cultures quite different from Southeastern Pennsylvania. This year, however, focused on a place closer to the Cairn community that is integral to our history as an institution: the city of Philadelphia.
The week started with a chapel keynote from Dr. Coz Crosscombe. Dr. Crosscombe, an Australian native, immigrated to the United States and felt compelled to stay in the city of Philadelphia. Now living there for over 25 years, he has vast urban ministry training and experience. He spoke on the barriers that prevent American believers from successfully engaging with the city of Philadelphia and other urban communities around the world. “Philadelphia is not great because of the buildings, economics, arts, or the universities,” he said, “It’s great because of the people, and God is passionately in love with them.”
Drawing from the book of Jonah, Dr. Crosscombe pointed out that although God chose Jonah to minister to the wicked city of Nineveh, he harbored a deep enmity toward the people. Dr. Crosscombe contrasts Jonah’s attitude with God’s desire to see the Ninevites repent: “Jonah’s framework is a you-get-what-you-deserve, but God’s framework is a framework of grace.”
He asserted that Jonah’s attitude is still held by many people in the present-day United States, even the church. In Jonah’s mind, and in the minds of many contemporary Americans, “people get what they deserve.” Dr. Crosscombe explained that Americans often think people are poor or don’t receive the same quality of education and healthcare as others because they simply don’t work hard enough. Dr. Crosscombe argues that this mindset is American but not biblical. More importantly, Jonah’s “you get what you deserve” mentality is the barrier for the contemporary American church. Dr. Crosscombe then concluded his keynote with a passage from Jonah in which God responds to Jonah’s hatred when the city of Nineveh repented.
Jonah 4:10-11 reads, “But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
Global Mission Week continued with two additional keynotes in the chapel series on Jonah. The second keynote, “Effective Ministry in the City,” was delivered on Wednesday by Gabriel Wang Herrera, the lead pastor of By Grace Alone Church in Philadelphia. Pastor Herrera defined effective engagement in the city as hearing and faithfully listening to God’s word and consequently loving people around us with grace and faith. The final keynote on Friday, “Beautiful Partnership with God,” was delivered by Susan Post, the executive director of Esperanza Health Center in North Philadelphia. Post shared her experiences of serving the people of Philadelphia. She highlights God’s love for the people of Nineveh in Jonah 4:2, in which Jonah declares, “. . . I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness.”
Throughout the week, ministry ambassadors and students interacted in the MAC lobby and in the classroom. Other highlights included a Tuesday movie night on the film “In America,” which tells the story of an Irish immigrant family moving to the United States and a Q&A panel with church leaders in the Highlander Cafe on Wednesday. In addition, Ellen Livingood delivered a brief lecture on Thursday afternoon called, “How Churches Can Learn to Love Immigrants.” The Student Missionary Fellowship club also hosted a global feast the following evening in Heritage Hall, where students were encouraged to create and serve international foods.
Cairn has, and always will be, for the Great Commission. Whether God calls us halfway across the globe or to our next-door neighbor’s back porch, Cairn prepares its students and supports countless others in the pursuit of bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.