“…to the ends of the earth.” (Wayne Schmidt)

I have a friend, Richard Waugh, who serves as the National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand, and President of the South Pacific Regional Conference of The Wesleyan Church.  Richard regularly reminds me that New Zealand is in the Bible, and then cites Acts 1:8 – “the ends of the earth.”

I’ve been to New Zealand three times, and every time I finish the long flight there or back I can’t help but agree that it feels as if I’ve traveled to the ends of the earth.  I’m not sure Jesus had New Zealand in mind when He made the statement (sorry, Richard), but am certain He commissioning His witnesses to receive His empowerment to spread the Gospel globally.

Our Seminary Board has identified one of our five signature ways of serving the Church as equipping leaders “to the ends of the earth.”  Wesley Seminary at IWU will engage in international theological education so that the emerging (and in many cases, exploding) Church around the world might have the quantity and quality of leadership this is needed.

I’m in one of my most intense travel seasons, and the last three trips have been related to exploring how we might serve the world as part of the vision of IWU to be a global Christian university.

  • In January Jan and I traveled to Australia (almost to the ends of the earth!) to engage in strategic planning with Wesleyan church leaders and speak at the National Conference of The Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia.  Australia, in partnership with New Zealand, along with their mission areas (South Pacific islands), just took the historic step of forming the South Pacific Regional Conference.  Our longer-term goal is to have a site there, most likely in Auckland, but are planning to start a cohort there this Spring that will then join with North American-based students.  In that cohort is an Aussie, some Kiwis, a Tongan and a Fijian church leaders.
  • I also traveled to Panama, where the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church was held. ..a great chance to connect with church leaders spanning the globe.  While there I continued our conversations with Benjamin Galarce, District Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Puerto Rico, about our growing partnership (there may be a cohort beginning there in 2013).  I also had very preliminary discussions with leaders from South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Egypt… to give you a sampler.  It was a privilege to connect with two of our current students – Jose McKella (National Superintendent of Panama and host of the conference) and Usman Fornah (National Superintendent of Sierra Leone and a keynote speaker).
  • I just returned from Florida where I attended the EQUIP Global 2020 Conference.  This international leadership development movement was launched by John Maxwell a decade ago and has trained 5 million leaders worldwide.  They will soon be based at the John Maxwell Leadership Center at 12Stone Church in Atlanta, GA…where we are included in a developing partnership.

Now some of you are thinking that Wayne’s travels all took him to wonderfully warm and beautiful places, and are beginning to question whether my motives were truly serving international leaders.  Don’t surrender to that cynicism!

I believe that the approach of Wesley Seminary at IWU to theological education is ideally suited to serve the needs of international leaders.  We are committed to the contextualization of our practice-oriented curriculum, and our on-site intensives could occur anywhere in the world, along with our online courses being available anywhere broadband internet exists.

The vision is both energizing and exhausting.  The complexities stretch our capacity to serve, and while we feel a strong sense of urgency we’re also committed to sustainability.  This endeavor is truly a BHAG – what Jim Collins calls a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” but as a Seminary we try to be more spiritual so we call it a “Big HOLY Audacious Goal.”  It drives us to depend upon God and to discern whether we are joining Him where He is already working.  Please join us in prayer and partnership to this “ends of the earth” endeavor!