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Calvary Alum Directing Amazon Project in Brazil

Calvary Alum Directing Amazon Project in Brazil

Gary (back, center) and Sandy (front, second from left) serve with Word of Life Bible Institute in Brazil.

Calvary “Pushed” Him Toward Missions

Calvary alumnus Gary Parker serves with his wife, Sandy, with Word of Life Bible Institute (WOLBI) in Brazil, The Amazon Project. Parker said this ministry has three major foci. The first is “to evangelize and disciple young people,” by means of camping ministries, a K-12 Christian school, sports ministries, and teaching the Bible in public schools. Their second focus is the Missionary Training Institute, offering one-year, three-year, and five-year tracks. Parker said the three-year program is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in missiology, while the five-year program partners with online Brazilian universities to give students training in missiology and a university degree.

“The focus is to train Brazilian young people to be missionaries, to take the gospel to places where it’s never gone before around the world,” Parker said. The institute trains students in a variety of skills, including first aid, mechanics, agriculture, literacy, sanitation and water supply, and food preparation.

The third focus of WOLBI in Brazil is a church planting ministry on the Amazon River. WOLBI has a team of missionaries that go out on boats doing survey work to identify communities that are open to churches, then teams of church planters plant churches in the identified communities. Parker said, “As those churches begin to be established, of course, in all of these communities there are young people, so the cycle starts over.” All of the youth ministries are functional on the Amazon on a different scale, including camps, schools, and “floating seminary.”

Parker said, “I see God moving in the Brazilian church and in the hearts of Brazilian young people to not only take responsibility for finishing the job of reaching the nation of Brazil with the gospel, but also having more and more of a vision for reaching the world with the gospel.” He also mentioned how Brazil is uniquely positioned to reach the Muslim world, “because all the Muslim countries hate America, but they love Brazil because of soccer… And so Brazilians have open doors.”

Parker, who serves as Executive Director of The Amazon Project, discovered Calvary when their music team performed at his church in high school. He came to Calvary pursuing pastoral studies, but “a lot of things changed in my heart, and I ended up going back to Brazil where I was born to be a missionary.” While he was at Calvary, his parents returned to Brazil to start a new ministry with WOLBI. “They needed somebody to come with them,” Parker said, “to learn with them and grow with them… and I was looking for something to give my life to.” Now he oversees the various ministries in Brazil, raising funds, and representing the ministry in conferences and promotion. “Think what Dr. Cone does for Calvary, and that’s what I do for Word of Life.”

Parker said, “I believe we have one job description, and that’s making disciples in all nations. Whatever our occupation, we should have the nations in mind.” He looked to his time at Calvary as one of the factors that pushed him towards missions. “The time that you spend in college is a time where you begin to identify how you find your abilities, talents, and opportunities best aligning with that mission… so whatever you’re doing, whether you’re building widgets or preaching, the purpose behind that is the mission of making disciples globally.”

Calvary Preps for Global Engagement Think Tank

Calvary Preps for Global Engagement Think Tank

Josh Paxton teaching recently in an Intercultural Studies classroom.

Where is the School?

With Calvary’s Conference on Global Engagement just around the corner, Josh Paxton, Director of the Burnham Center for Global Engagement, is gearing up for the conference’s Think Tank. Scheduled for Friday the 31st, the Think Tank addresses the question of how the church, mission agency, and school work together in training missionaries for the field. Paxton said, “The conversation has generally centered around the mission agency and the church. And… as I’ve been in these conversations, the constant refrain in the back of my mind has been, where is the school?” He noted that, as Christian schools have closed over the past few years, mission agencies have turned their recruiting focus toward churches. While recognizing that “the church is God’s primary vehicle in the world today, and the local church bears responsibility for local missions,” Paxton said, “I think the school still very much has a role to play.”

Concurrent to the conversation is Calvary’s Synergy program that has already forged a stronger connection between the school and the mission agency. As the program grows and develops, leaders and students are finding ways to involve the church more in discipling the individuals preparing for the mission field. Paxton said an integral part of the Synergy program is “making sure that [the student’s] local church is behind them, and that they’re being mentored in the process.”

The Think Tank brings together local pastors, Calvary leadership, missions agency representatives, and students around the idea of, “how do we do this better together?” The format of the Think Tanks will be “Ted Talk style,” featuring 30-minute presentations followed by discussion times. Paxton is excited to bring students into these conversations, “because it strikes me it does no good for pastors and teachers and missions agency leaders to sit around and talk about students without students actually being there to give their input.”

Examining how the church, agency, and school work together to disciple and train leaders, Paxton said, “I think we need to take a real hard look at what are the roles of each: what’s the church good at? What’s the school good at? What’s the agency good at? What are our niches and how do we work better together?”

STEM head Chris Basel excited as program expands

STEM head Chris Basel excited as program expands

Calvary’s commitment to educating from the biblical worldview means Calvary’s program is rare.

With Calvary’s addition of a chemistry minor, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) head Chris Basel looks forward to further expansions of the program. He said, in long-term goals, Calvary looks to add other STEM minors, such as math and biology. “The goal is for the minors to partner with the Warrior’s Choice degree,” enabling students “to go on to any professional school.” This opens opportunities for Calvary graduates in graduate studies such as medical science, biology, and chemistry.

Basel highlighted the importance of Calvary’s first distinctive, standing firm on the Bible. With the opportunities Calvary offers, students “don’t have to go to a secular college that teaches from a naturalistic perspective… You can come to Calvary and you can get Education, Bible and Theology, and now you can get Science and Math, too.”

Calvary’s commitment to educating from the biblical worldview means Calvary’s program is rare. Basel said, “[Because] we hold the Bible to be true and authoritative from the very first word, we are a creationist college. You can go to Answers in Genesis and search creationist colleges; we’re on there.” This standing makes Calvary one of “a relatively small number.”

Basel pointed out that, while “there is quite a lot of good competition within that small number, this gives people another opportunity” as they pursue biblical higher education. Calvary is one of only seven creationist colleges listed for the central United States, and one of fourteen west of the Missouri River. This small number of options positions Calvary’s Missouri and Colorado campuses to fill a national need for biblical education in STEM fields.

Basel said, “My desire is to meet the needs of students who have a variety of needs,” and he already has students from a wide range of the Midwest enrolled in his science courses. The blended format of Calvary’s courses enables students across the country to take advantage of low cost, high quality education in biblical degree programs.

Students in a Biology lab extract DNA from strawberries.

Education Major Charissa Harwerth Sees God Working at the Calvary University Innovation Center

Education Major Charissa Harwerth Sees God Working at the Calvary University Innovation Center

CU student Charissa Harwerth, studies at Calvary’s Kansas City campus, but helped out at the Colorado site while home for the summer. (Her helpers were not identified.)

“People would come in on a weekly basis saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’”

Charissa Harwerth, spent her summer working at Calvary University’s Innovation Center (CUIC) in Fort Morgan, Colorado. A junior in Calvary’s Elementary Education degree program, Harwerth spent part of her childhood in Fort Morgan, and she was excited to partner with Calvary to impact her home community. Harwerth worked in admissions, contacting hundreds of prospective students and recruiting at local events.

She commented on her joy “to see the excitement in the community, especially with the Academy coming in.” Harwerth said the response to Calvary University Academy (CUA) has been especially strong. “They are doing so much. They’re instilling biblical values into these students… and students who have struggled in the public school being a light are getting training in that.”

CUIC’s presence in Fort Morgan creates opportunity to help the community and start a dialogue with its residents. Harwerth said, “God is working, and it’s coming out into the community through [God] allowing a lot of curiosity. People would come in on a weekly basis saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’” Harwerth was thrilled with how the CUIC team is striving for excellence. “They are actively seeking to enhance the Fort Morgan community and also actively seeking to [reach] the community with a biblical worldview.”

Looking towards CUIC’s growth and future, Harwerth says, “They’re sticking to the biblical worldview and encouraging the community because of it… I believe God has us there for a reason. And [CUIC] has a lot of potential to see the Colorado atmosphere change, especially in its view on Christianity and the Bible.”

Calvary donates to City Union Mission during 20 Days of Blessing

Calvary donates to City Union Mission during 20 Days of Blessing

Randy Grimm (left) and Cory Trowbridge (right) with City Union Mission’s Development Director, Dennis Chapman (center).

Nothing says “Christmas” like . . . toilet paper?!

Through the month of December, Calvary faculty and staff conducted the 20 Days of Blessing. Prompted by Chief Operations Officer Randy Grimm, the 20 Days of Blessing encourages the Calvary body to engage in serving the local community. After hearing a local businessman express frustration at the number of unmet needs in the community, Grimm brought the dilemma to Calvary’s faculty, staff, and student body, urging them to step up “and be a blessing to others.”

The Calvary community quickly rose to the challenge. Departments worked together to acquire and organize donations, partnering to bless six different ministries: KC Rescue, Global FC, KC Refuge, Heart in Hand, Stockings for Soldiers, and City Union Mission.

During the last week of class, Grimm and Dean of Students, Cory Trowbridge, delivered one of the blessings to City Union Mission: over 2000 rolls of toilet paper donated by faculty, staff and the student body. Dennis Chapman, City Union Mission’s Development Director, said the mission’s various sites go through at least 3,600 rolls of toilet paper per month.

Grimm said Calvary looks forward to making 20 Days of Blessing an annual campaign to bless others in our communities.