DAVIS-Jerry Rankin said it is hard to believe there are still places in this world where people have no Bibles and have never heard of Jesus Christ, yet the communication message of Coca Cola has reached most every place on Earth.
But if Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, and Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center leaders have their way, that may soon change.
With the new Missions Center opening this summer, there has been an added emphasis on sending both short, long-term and career missionaries from Falls Creek, which has long been known as the place where more missionaries have been called to service than any other location on Earth.
Rankin, speaking to students at the Morning Experience during the final week of Falls Creek youth camp, said there are 1.3 billion people who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
“To put that into perspective, there have not been 1.3 billion minutes since Jesus walked on this Earth, but that many people have not heard His Name.”
Rankin was speaking to Falls Creek campers for the fourth time this summer, as much of the camp’s focus has been on missions. The other four weeks, Tom Elliff, former pastor of Del City, First Southern, and senior vice president of spiritual nurture and church growth for the IMB, represented the Board.
Rankin, who has seen an unprecedented number of students serving around the world under his watch, said many in the world are like those 80,000 who died in an earthquake in China or the 250,000 who died in the Tsunami in Asia.
“Now they are in a Christless eternity; the opportunity is gone,” he said.
He asked the students why they thought God allowed them to live in America where they can go to church and hear about Jesus when most of the world doesn’t have that opportunity.
“Does He love you more?” he asked. “Are you more deserving? Why has He allowed us to have access to the Gospel? Why has He chosen to bless us? I don’t have the answers, but because He has, we have responsibility to tell a lost world about Jesus.”
Rankin’s remarks were the closing to a service that began with the questions: Why did God bring you here, and what is He trying to accomplish in your life? And what is God’s will for your life?
“Right now, the world doesn’t know and understand who He is,” said James Lankford, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma student ministry and evangelism specialist. “They make up a God of their own, or hope He will notice what they are doing.”
Andy Harrison, BGCO student ministries/education specialist, said God’s will is that “we take His message to the ends of the Earth.” And that starts right where we are now.
Harrison said a high school teacher once gave his class the assignment of filling 34 blank pages with symbols of Greek and Roman mythology.
“I didn’t think I could do that in a week, but in three days, I had the pages filled with symbols I had not noticed before,” he said. “You don’t ever see what you aren’t looking for.”
Harrison said there are 347,000 students, ages 12-17, in Oklahoma, and 44,083 of them are on our church rolls.
“We minister to less than 20,000 on Sundays,” he said. “That’s less than 6 percent of the student population. Maybe God is calling you to look around your campus and begin to minister to those not involved in any church. Maybe that’s God’s plan for your life-to reach your campus.”
Lankford reminded the students that God has been calling people out from Falls Creek for years.
He told about GO Students, who will minister again in the United Kingdom next summer, and had the first four rows of people in the center section of the tabernacle stand up.
“If this tabernacle were the region in the U.K., these students standing would be the only Christians-just 4 percent of the population. If God calls you to be a GO Student, take a deep breath, and go. God has a specific plan for your life, and this may be a part of it.”
Several of those called to missions at Falls Creek gave testimonies, some in person, some through video.
Joe Hall, from Shawnee, has served as a journeyman in Indonesia for three years, arriving just after the Tsunami.
“There has never been a missionary in the region I served,” he said. “More than 98 percent of those who died in the Tsunami had never heard the gospel message.”
Hall challenged the students to be a part of the generation God is raising up to take His Name to the ends of the Earth.
“When I was your age, that wasn’t my goal,” he admitted. “I was striving to make much of Joe Hall, but my name can’t give anyone eternal life, but Jesus can, and that is why we are on this Earth. Don’t waste your life. Don’t miss the opportunity to live for Christ. People all over the world are waiting to hear the name of Jesus.”
Daniel, an Oklahoma City graduate of Oklahoma State University, spent summers at Falls Creek, and there met a couple from East Asia. He is now working in Thailand with 22 million people, of whom less that 1/2 percent have heard of Jesus.
Andrea, an OBU graduate, spent two summers on the Falls Creek staff, and felt a call to missions there. She is going overseas as a career missionary.
“Leaving family, friends and everything comfortable to go to a people I’ve never met is worth it to be obedient to Him,” she said. “There is no greater satisfaction in life than to follow Him and be obedient.”
Following a prayer of commitment, Lankford asked all the students to stand who had heard God speak to them about GO Students, going overseas or in another state to minister or who had been convicted to speak to family members or friends about Jesus. Nearly half of the 7,000 students rose to their feet.
Rankin, who noted he heard of Falls Creek many years before he set foot on the campus, said it is an encouragement to see young people dedicating themselves to missions.
“Falls Creek is a unique experience,” he said. “To see such a massive group of kids who know God has a plan for them and then to connect that with missions is tremendous.”
He said the next generation of missionaries are making life decisions, and if they can be confronted with missions when they are susceptible for finding God’s plan for their lives, they are open to His call.
“The response here is amazing, but not surprising,” Rankin said. “By Friday morning, they are primed because of all that has been imparted into their lives during the week.”
Rankin said he was grateful to have the opportunity to talk with campers at Falls Creek.
“Where else would we ever have the opportunity to talk to 6,000-7,000 young people at one time?”