Alumni with a Mission: The Need is the Call

Over the past 75 years the institution that is today Fresno Pacific University, including Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, has been committed to helping students discern their gifts for service to match them with the needs of others...

President Joseph Jones, Ph.D.We are living in a world with unprecedented occurrences. Widespread poverty, famine, war, terrorism, destruction and environmental anomalies have become the norm. COVID-19 has awakened so many of us to how connected we are through health, well-being, economics and physical survival. Before the virus we were aware of these disruptions across our world, but they did not become relevant until they stopped at our doors. As a Christian community we assumed we had a global worldview; we thought we saw but did not see until we became personally impacted.

I have always been impressed by the good Samaritan parable of Jesus. Three individuals saw a need, two who were very religious, one who was considered a second- class citizen of low status. All had the ability to assist someone Jesus calls a neighbor, but only one could see beyond his comfort zone. You might say he had a Christ-centered worldview.

Over the past 75 years the institution that is today Fresno Pacific University, including Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, has nurtured students in a Kingdom worldview which reaches beyond the borders of their existence to discern service to their neighbors. Even in a time when their own needs were great their hearts were set afire to the needs of others. Some students were awakened through foreign students or former missionaries; many were inspired through participation in mission.

These opportunities set fire in their hearts, brought light into their eyes and removed scales of complacency concerning the needs of others. Jesus said: “If anyone would follow me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me.” Following entailed seeing where Jesus would go. Sometimes that is just around the corner to a neighbor’s home, or other times around the world.

Jesus commanded his disciples to go into the world and preach the Good News. When we discover the Good News, we cannot help but find ways to communicate it. The more treasured the news, the more compelled we are to share. Seeing all the devastation through the lenses of COVID-19, we can all agree on the greater need for the Good News of Jesus Christ, where we are and abroad. This issue features those who accepted a vision beyond themselves; a global vision to share Good News in places of strife and devastation.

It is my hope that as you read these stories of alumni that you are encouraged by the Samaritan’s spirit. Many will ignore or reason away their lack of sight—like the Levite or the priest in Jesus’ story. But these FPU and seminary graduates followed the Samaritan’s response: others’ need became their call.