Learn how Global Outreach got started, how they are on mission today
by Alexandria Hentschel and Paolo Carrion
When Dr. Don Callan started his short-term missions program at Cedarville University 46 years ago, then called Missions Involvement Service (MIS), he was greeted with mixed responses.
“I’ve had a couple pastors buy me lunch to chew me out,” Callan said.
These pastors thought that the ministry was “stealing” money from full-time missionaries. What Callan knew, however, was that students who saw the mission field for themselves tended to come back with a new passion for missions.
“The best thing I did at Cedarville was to become involved, and to get people involved and thinking about missions,” Callan said.
When Callan earned his Ph.D. in 1968, he decided that the timing to start his own short-terms missions organization was perfect.
“My dream was to start an organization so we could channel people into missions,” Callan said.
Dr. Harold Green started working at Cedarville around the same time. Callan went to Green with the idea of creating a summer mission trip ministry on campus.
“We were of similar mind,” Callan said.
The two approached Dr. James T. Jeremiah, Cedarville’s president at the time, with the idea. Jeremiah liked the idea but was not sure he wanted it to be an official part of the school’s program. Callan and Green asked permission to start the program anyway, separate from the school. When Jeremiah saw the evidence that their program was working, and how quickly it was growing, he decided to integrate it as part of the school. Through this, the Missions Involvement Services was born.
MIS didn’t hire its first full-time director until 1992. When Callan and Green met Brian Nester while on a missions trip in Europe, Green told Callan, “I think we found our man.” After some convincing, Nester was hired as the new MIS director in 1994.
Missions at Cedarville has come a long way in the past half-century under the leadership of men like Callan.
Originally, there were two separate offices for missions at Cedarville: Missions Involvement Services, which orchestrated overseas missions, and Community Ministries, which orchestrated community outreach and ministry in the local church. It was the vision of Vice President for Student Life and Christian Ministries Jon Wood, as well as President Dr. Thomas White, that brought local ministry and global ministry together in one new, separate office in 2014. The result is what we now call Global Outreach.
Global Outreach, often abbreviated as an acronym that is also a directive — GO — fosters ministry all over the map. They coordinate missions in the local church, regionally, and across the globe, focusing on getting students out to serve wherever they are called.
At the local level, Global Outreach is involved in community ministries such as urban, prison, tutoring, special needs and crisis pregnancy counseling. At the global level, Global Outreach is sending out 23 teams this summer to serve on several continents doing various activities such as vacation Bible school, medical missions, sports, teaching English, refugee ministry and engineering. They also send teams out year-round.
Nester has been the director of Global Outreach at Cedarville for 23 years. While he has seen the name of the office and its structure change, he said that its central goal has remained the same.
“The heartbeat of Cedarville has always been the local church, evangelism and outreach — it’s just taken different forms over the
years,” Nester said.
The local missions has evolved to include many different outreach organizations around the community. Students are able to suggest ministries online using a form. The easy application process has become a way for the ministries to use student talents.
Nester said he believes the Global Outreach office serves several purposes. It not only spreads the Gospel but also gives college students an early foundation for future ministry by helping them become involved.
“Most people who are in ministry today, such as myself, got involved at a young age or in college — it really whetted our appetite and made us feel comfortable and called,” Nester said.
Callan was also first introduced to missions when he was in college. His coach took him to a church and asked him to share his testimony.
“He didn’t care what I said; he just wanted me involved,” Callan said. “He had a vision of reaching out to people, using people who weren’t trained.”
This vision of getting college students involved in ministry continues to shape Global Outreach today. A recent trip reached out to Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest Arab-American population in the U.S. according to Census.gov. Two students who went on the trip said they believe their experience was particularly impactful in sparking a passion for missions.
“I think it was more about exposure to the culture, and the different ways we can love the Muslims around us,” Elissa Uithol, a freshman linguistics major, said.
A team of 12 visited several ministries in the area and helped with an English as a second language class.
“I have a heart for Muslim missions,” said Carol Raquet, a freshman electrical engineering major who went on the trip. “I really want to see Muslims, especially women, come to Christ.”
Raquet has also served on CU Outreach trips in which GO sends students to nearby universities to talk with students. “It’s grown me a lot in sharing and articulating my faith,” she said.
Going forward, Nester said he sees the Global Outreach office as changing along with missions in the 21st century. Missions is becoming more non-traditional as missionaries often also have a career in a secular field. Nester said he believes that a nurse, an actor or a doctor can be just as effective at bringing the gospel as a career missionary. The Global Outreach office is focused on ensuring that students can use their specific gifting.
“It really is our dream that every student, regardless of their major, can be involved in ministry,” said Nester. “All of us are here to minister to people using our stories and our skills to reach people with the gospel.”
Another change that the Global Outreach office has seen is the greater cooperation with those already living in the country in order to ensure that the best people are sent and no harm is caused in the country. Nester sees the Global Outreach office continuing to send students all over the globe with cooperation and mindfulness in order to do the most good.
“Christ’s story is what we’re here to tell,” Nester said. “Because of students who are willing to go, people are coming to Christ.”
Alexandria Hentschel is a freshman International Studies major and an off-campus news writer for Cedars. She enjoys old books, strong coffee, and honest debate.
Paolo Carrion is a freshman journalism major and campus news writer for Cedars. He enjoys drinking hot chocolate, reading comic books and making animal crackers watch as he devours their family.