Great Commission Congress to Praise 'Boundless Salvation'

Asbury University’s annual Great Commission Congress will begin Nov. 4 and feature Salvation Army majors Stephen Court and Danielle Strickland, a husband-and-wife team with a passion for the Gospel and Asbury.

The services will be held during Chapel on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Nov. 4-8, with evening services at 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Additionally, there will be a reception with mission agencies at 8 p.m. on Nov. 6 and a service opportunity from 7-10 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Major Danielle Strickland
Major Danielle Strickland

Court and Strickland lead a Salvation Army corps in Edmonton, Canada. Their work centers on evangelism in their community, and their approach to ministry mirrors the series theme this year: “Boundless,” based on a hymn by William Booth called “O Boundless Salvation.” In addition to leading their corps, Court and Strickland have also published widely. Court has written 16 books, and Strickland has written six. Strickland is also an international communicator, having spoken in 20 countries.

Major Stephen Court
Major Stephen Court

Though not directly connected to Asbury University, Court and Strickland did host a cross-cultural event at Asbury a few years ago, and they feel a strong affection for the school.

“We're fans,” Court said. “Asbury is legendary in The Salvation Army.”

Court says he has been praying for the Great Commission Congress ever since the details were finalized.

“I’m excited to see God at work,” he said. “I'm looking forward to the supernatural electricity of joining heaps of Asbury in worshiping our spectacular King and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The major objective of Great Commission Congress is “motivating, equipping and mobilizing” young people to share the Gospel in an increasingly connected world. The globalization of the 21st century poses some new challenges to those desiring to share the Gospel, according to Dr. Lynn Shmidt, professor of mission at Asbury. He says though the Great Commission itself will never change, Christian methods of evangelism have to embrace global growth in some ways, while affirming the cultural and ethnic distinctive of all people.

“Making use of modern technologies has drastically changed the way we recruit for missions, the way we keep people informed about missions, and the way we do ministry and mission,” he said. “There has to be an internet presence that is up to date an informative for every viable mission agency.”

While the world is becoming more globalized, Shmidt says that there is a balancing anti-globalization reaction that seeks to preserve cultural and ethnic identities.

“Overall, it shows that every cultural and linguistic context must be taken seriously,” Shmidt said. “The gospel is true and unchangeable, but to be understood it must be dressed in a particular cultural context just like it was originally clothed in Hebrew culture. The challenge today is to see that the gospel is presented meaningfully in each context.”

Campus Chaplain Greg Haseloff says that one of the ways Asbury seeks to prepare students for mission through the Great Commission Congress is by challenging them to live every day as witnesses for Christ.

“Motivating our students to live a ‘great commission lifestyle’ is one of the first ways we tackle some of these issues,” Haseloff said. “We do this by challenging the myth of missions requiring you to leave the country, and the myth that being a witness for Christ is something you ‘do later, after leaving college.’”

Additionally, Haseloff says that students are taught to “think theologically about missions and explore the social, spiritual and cultural implications connected to living out the Great Commission.”

Kesley Boyle ’16, a missions major, says that she has been learning that the Great Commission has larger implications than just foreign evangelism.

“The great commission is a call for us as believers as we’re doing anything, going anywhere, encountering any people, to show them that love of Christ as we’re going about our lives,” she said. “Great Commission Congress is important because we need a reminder. Sometimes we might get caught up in schoolwork, or relationships, or just our lives, and we need to stop and be reminded of the whole reasons we’re here on earth and here at Asbury.”

--Joel Sams ‘15

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