by Martin Surridge
College Place, Wash., July 3, 2012-
Students who grew up hearing stories of their grandparents sharing the gospel door to door now have an opportunity to follow in their footsteps and become evangelists and Bible workers in their own right when they enroll in leadership classes at the Northwest Mission Institute (NMI) on the campus of Walla Walla University (WWU) in College Place, Wash.
Funded separately from WWU, the NMI operates two training sessions, the most recent of which was the inaugural session, the NMI Boot Camp held in Pasco, Wash., on June 17. As part of the boot camp, NMI also offered some free health evangelism training at the Kennewick (Wash.) Church.
As a ministry of the North Pacific Union Conference and in partnership with WWU, the institute serves as a personal evangelism leadership training school with "a strong academic foundation, practical hands-on experience and nonstop mentorship." Graduates from the institute receive a Bible worker coordinator certificate that increases employment opportunities at the local church-leadership level.
According to NMI director Jason Worf, the mission of the training school is "to train a new generation of personal evangelism leaders who can not only give a Bible study or do health ministries, or do literature distribution, but are also able to provide leadership in all of those areas, motivating and training church members to be involved in personal evangelism."
Worf explains some of the ways that the institute hopes to fulfill that mission by attracting students to their program. "Our core classes are accredited through the university," he says, "and students can take our course without losing any scholarships or student aid. We also offer non-accredited enrollment options for non-WWU students, including significant tuition discounts."
Worf continues, "Our focus is on leadership development. This means that students will be expected to get church members involved, teaching them what they've recently learned in class. Students will also be given opportunities to exercise that leadership in the churches we partner with in a mentored setting."
Church placement for NMI students places a priority on one-on-one time with pastors and elders. There is also a plan being developed to allow third-year theology majors at WWU to enroll in the NMI program without having to reschedule classes or delay graduation.
David Thomas, WWU School of Theology dean, sits on the NMI board and shares the benefits of having an evangelism leadership training school on campus. Thomas says that Bible workers and evangelists are part of a "group of people that Adventism has lost over the past 20 to 30 years."
"I have been impressed. Enrollment in NMI is open to all interested people," Thomas says. "The goal of the institute is to develop a group of people who are out knocking on doors, doing what I like to call front-line work."
To learn more about the program, see http://missioninstitute.org/.