Missions Advance is a student organization at BJU that seeks to help students learn, pray and mobilize for missions.
When it began as the Mission Prayer Band as early as 1937, students met on Saturday mornings to learn about global missions. Groups within the band each presented once a semester on different areas of the mission field. The band also met daily to pray for missionaries. After the University moved to Greenville, meetings were held in War Memorial Chapel and guest speakers began to present in the meetings.
Changed from Mission Prayer Band in January 2011, Missions Advance still meets regularly, but now on Mondays and Thursdays at 9 p.m. in Alumni 217. Although the format has changed, the heart of the original Mission Prayer Band has not.
Snapshot of a Meeting
A typical meeting begins with announcements and songs. Then a guest speaker shares what he or she knows about the mission field. Hannah Moody, student director of Missions Advance, said, “We usually email mission boards (to) get lists of missionaries that (will) be in the area. … (We also find people) through connections—like through the friends of the students that we have.” After the speaker presents, there is a Q&A time and then the students split into groups to pray.
When there isn’t a speaker on the schedule, the students do other mission-related activities. “We’ll pray through missionary prayer letters or (for) unreached people groups. Sometimes we do activities, like a movie night,” said Moody. The films are usually Dispatches from the Front or related to people who suffer for Christ.
Why Is Missions Advance Important?
Missions Advance offers students a unique approach to learning, praying and mobilizing. The organization teaches students about the reality of missions.
“It opens our eyes up a lot to what (God is doing) around the world, in other countries and in other Christians’ lives,” said Moody. “(We are challenged to ask), ‘What can I be doing now as a Christian to be a better servant for the Lord in what he calls me to do?’ ”
Students learn from the missionaries’ personal examples as well. “(With a structure based on themes), students can learn practically from people who have a little bit more wisdom than we do,” Moody explained. “(Missions Advance) also helps us learn how to pray better.”
Praying at Missions Advance is valuable for students, even if they already go to their society prayer meeting. “Not many Christians take the time to pray for missions, I feel like,” Moody said. “Even I need to be better about that—and I’m a missionary kid myself.”
Ultimately, the goal is for students to apply what they learn by mobilizing. Moody said, “Now—(but especially) after graduation—we’re hoping that students will take what they learn … wherever God leads them. That’s really our heartbeat.”
Seeing It Grow
Missions Advance has room to grow and improve. Moody said she would love to see attendance grow. “I wish more people knew about it, so we are definitely trying harder to work on our promotions.” (They are on Instagram @missionsadvance.)
Not only does she want quantity to increase, but she also wants the quality to increase. “I want to see it grow in its practicality to students, which is something I’ve tried to change a little bit this year by having themes for each month,” Moody said.
Moody also wants the missionaries to focus on application more after they present. “(It would be great to) provide a time that they can challenge us (to) do something … that would prepare us for … whatever ministry God calls us into, whether or not that might be full time missions.” Hearing from more missionary kids is another potential addition. Said Moody: “I don’t think we have (MKs speak) as much, but I’m hoping to have that more this year.”
Students have opportunities to lead in Missions Advance. They can participate in leading the singing by playing instruments, or they can even run for offices. The director is like the president, and meeting and events coordinators are similar to vice presidents. The meeting coordinator contacts and schedules speakers, and the events coordinator schedules events outside of normal meeting times—such as a movie night, the Underground church experience during Go Week, or U.Day events. All three positions last for the entire academic year.
There are also three semesterly positions—the promotions manager, the chorister and the secretary. The promotions manager works under the events coordinator and uses social media to spread the word about Missions Advance. The chorister helps the meeting coordinator by scheduling songs for each meeting. And, in Moody’s words, the secretary “just kind of ties us together.”
Missions Advance meetings are open to everyone. “Come when you can. If you can’t, that’s OK—we understand people have lives,” said Moody. But whether or not you can make it to a missions meeting, every Christian should be committed to missions and prayer.