JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—Involvement in collegiate missions has come full circle for David and Tami Wood.
In the summer of 1988 just a few months before they were married he represented Florida Baptists as a summer missionary to Israel, while she served in Indiana. It was an experience they often would reflect upon when contemplating God’s call on their lives.
A few short years later the Woods were commissioned as International Board missionaries to West Africa. One of the first things they did after completing language study and orientation was to recruit collegiate missionaries to join them in their task.
During their almost 16 years of international service, hundreds of college students came alongside the Woods to assist them in their efforts to reach people for Christ.
“Many students who serve at home and abroad realize that God uses their willingness to serve to fulfill a variety of purposes,” said Tami Wood. “God often uses the experience to awaken a burden for the lost and sometimes to ignite or confirm a missionary calling.”
Many of the students who served with the two later went back to the mission field for longer-term commitments.
God also uses the energy and passion of college students to strengthen and encourage missionaries on the field,” Tami Wood said.
“Collegiate missions is not ‘religious tourism,’” Wood said. “It is an integral part of the strategic planning of missionaries both at home and abroad. Students are eager to go where no one has shared the Gospel before. They are quick to build relationships and quick to learn the local language.”
The students’ love for spiritually lost people does not go unnoticed. When the Woods made follow-up trips to villages where students served, the couple was often bombarded with questions concerning the well-being of students who had come and gone. “Collegiate missionaries leave a lasting imprint on the hearts and lives of those they meet,” she said.
Today, David Wood serves as the associate campus minister at University of Florida and Santa Fe College. His role has evolved from missionary to mentor, trainer and encourager. He has had the opportunity to lead students on mission trips to Peru, Alaska, Haiti, New Orleans, South Carolina and Japan and to participate in local Gainesville ministries. He has also helped train students at an annual missions training event at St. George Island and is continually amazed at the quality and commitment of those surrendering to God’s call.
“Collegiate missions is vital to the preparation for future missions; it is vital to bringing the lost to Christ,” Tami Wood said.
This summer, 142 students and leaders will represent Florida Baptists on short term and long-term mission trips, responding to a challenge by their Baptist Campus Ministers to explore avenues for sharing the Gospel.
In the effort coordinated by the Florida Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Ministries team, BCM recruits and enlists students to serve through the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board and International Mission Board.
Among the students and leaders serving this summer, 10 students will lead Vacation Bible Schools on the Florida mission field, helping churches unable to implement a VBS in their efforts to reach out to their community.
Funding for Florida’s students comes primarily from their participation in BCM fundraising efforts, scholarships from NAMB or IMB, and proceeds from the Maguire State Missions Offering.
All Florida Baptists are encouraged to pray for the summer missionaries listed below, along with their schools and places of service. Many of them are pictured in the photo above.
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